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October 12, 2006


our single-member districts will inevitably fall short of the "ideal" proportional representation outcome regardless of whether gerrymandering has taken place.

Never moreso do we fall short than DC, the last bastion of taxation without voting representation in the US.

Wyoming = 1 congressman, 2 Senators. Population 500,000
DC = 1 congresswoman (non-voting), no Senators. Population 550,000

Where in the Constitution does it say anything about single member districts? All it says are that Congressmen are selected by the states, right? So there's no reason a state couldn't have proportional representation for its Congresspeople, or multi-member districts, or any number of other potentially interesting voting mechanisms.

Good point - the requirement for single-member districts is statutory and not in the Constitution, but Madison did write in the Federalist Papers about single-member districts (see here for more).

Delay apparently got what he wanted in Texas by redistricting. Would he have got it without redistricting? Doubtful.

Moreover, even though Madison wrote about single member districts, and even if he had managed to enshrine them in the Constitution itself instead of in his "users manual"... that doesn't mean the effects of districting and redistricting are overstated. It suggests instead those effects are a feature, not a bug. And it would suggest to at least some that such "features" are at odds with what they want from their political system. Just because the Founders had something in mind doesn't prove it's a good thing they had in mind.

Of course reality will always fall short of the ideal. The question is, how far can it fall short before setting off alarm bells? It's a political choice to say "really, really far" (or worse yet to just redefine the ideal), and it's not one that's very complimentary to or solicitous of your fellow citizens.

Re statistical evidence on gerrymandering: the key, I think, is comparing the Senate (States can't be gerrymandered) to the House (CDs can be gerrymandered). Of late, the Senate is actually less friendly to incumbents than the House, IIRC.

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