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tv   Washington Journal Aaron Bycoffe David Wasserman  CSPAN  February 1, 2018 1:25pm-2:05pm EST

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and the media that enables the audience, the system that involves the republican donors, the traditional parts of the republican party that have succumbed to him, and that core group within the republican party that enabled him to win the republican nomination and go on to the presidency. >> sunday night at 9:00 eastern on book tv. news from the republican retreat coming up at two: theater -- 2:30. head of that, this morning's washington journal. inues. host: we are back to talk about gerrymandering. we have aaron bycoffe with fivethirtyeight and david wasserman with cook political report. you joined in on a project to look at gerrymandering. david wasserman, what is gerrymandering? guest: the manipulation of
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boundaries to benefit one political group. sometimes it serves to create a majority and minority district, for example. it has become a catchall for what is broken in washington. there is talk about how gerrymandering has created and dysfunction. the main driver of what has polarized congress is the voters themselves sorting and like-minded places that has made it easier for and dysfunction. the partisans drawing the map to create highly democratic or republican seats. host: is it still happening? guest: of course. it is happening at a dizzying pace. in the last round, republicans benefited from the fact that they won the midterm elections timese power to redraw 4 as many districts as democrats on the state level. most is done by state legislatures. if you have commissions.
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that has been the subject of debate. should we move to a commission process in more states and take the power out of the hands of the people who are drawing lines for themselves and members of congress? what is happening in pennsylvania? we had a ruling about the maps the republicans came up with. guest: it has a slight democratic majority. they rolled that pennsylvania's republican-drawn map was an unconstitutional gerrymandering. one for maryland and one from wisconsin are on the ity.nstitutional it is like of sanity. where do -- it is like o obscenity. where do you draw the line? how do you define that? we are
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waiting to see if the supreme andt's will issue a stay folded in with other cases. host: you're calling it the atlas of redistricting. what were you trying to accomplish? wanted to show there are trade-offs when you draw districts. you can maximize certain things and in turn lose out on other things. one example is one of our maps tried to do nothing else but make districts compact. they are pleasant looking, but the outcomes, especially in minority-majority representation , it hurts a lot of people. you can see similar trade-offs with our other comparisons. there is no perfect way to draw a map that will please everyone and will be completely fair. host: more compact, what do you mean? guest: there are different ways to measure it.
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one measure is the length of the lines between districts. others try to see how close a district's shape is to a circle. about 18 states have standards and their laws, but they do not define what that means. givenp drawers are not rules to follow as far as making them compact. host: what is the impact? guest: a lot of states have the criteria, but they do not define it well. that has been a struggle for reformers who say why cannot we have -- why can't we have normal -shaped districts? it is easy to poke fun at some of the shapes. on ave had the rapid skateboard district in illinois, the upside down chinese dragon in pennsylvania. it is easy to poke fun, but harder to say here is a shape
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that districts should adhere to. there are all kinds of natural geographic boundaries that are oddly shaped. ss itself doesne not guarantee fairness. often they are drawn to make the map fair or give minorities more of a voice. host: you wrote the accompanying to "hating gerrymandering is easy, fixing it is harder." we talked about the results. what is the other approach to take? guest: rita took ava writing. we featured seven -- we took a variety. we featured seven different ways to draw a map. for the districts to be competitive it would be possible withinte 242 house seats
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the national average, fitting our definition of competitive here that would be tripling the number of current competitive seats which is 72. an interesting lesson from the exercise is that the bias is not so much pro-republican as it is anti-competitive. , 70 twourrent map competitive districts is lower than what we have found in maps that we drew with an out rhythm following -- with an algorithm following borders. the anti-competitiveness helps republicans because they have a natural geographic advantage because democratic voters are austered so they need to win lower share to get majority. that itu are saying does not necessarily benefit republicans. there is a lot of red on the current map.
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guest: there is a lot of red, but looking at a map is not necessarily the best way to judge how evenly split congress is. many of the red areas are bigger than democratic areas which are clustered in cities. a map can give not necessarily the full texture of things. democrats tend to benefit from high density areas in cities? guest: democrats are inhabiting a lot of urban districts where they are winning 90% to 10%. republicans have a lot of districts in rural areas they are winning 60% to 40%. there ist a deficiency for apublicans -- there is deficiency for republicans that is benefiting them. one of the old sayings is that thing to help democrats
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win a majority might to be a resettlement of their voters. host: how would the current map and howproportionality you define that for the criteria? guest: proportionality, we look at how the state as a whole voted in the last elections and came up with a number from that. be used that to figure out how many congressional seats that would result in for each party in the state. what were the results? yeah, we came up with a proportional map that allocated seats according to the party's share of the vote. the house came out pretty close to evenly split. the only map that we drew that house wasemocratic our democratic gerrymander of the country, which shows that even if you are not paying
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attention to party, you will probably end up with more republican seats because of the alignment of the electorate. host: what does that say about 2018 midterm elections and ' chance of taking back the house? are the favorites. republicans are having a good couple of months, but there is a of vulnerable republican districts. lot ofseeing a retirements. democrats have a good shot. the interesting question will be do democrats remain as in favor of districting reform if they are able to overcome the republican gerrymander from 2011 and win? host: what are their efforts like now? what are they doing to overturn the redistricting that happened in 2010 or 2011? guest: they are excited about the case before the supreme court. they believe the efficiency gap
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standard being proposed by the plaintiffs in the wisconsin case is a tool for detecting partisan gerrymandering and will lead to ofrer maps in a variety states. even if the supreme court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it would be a long process to overturn a lot of the current maps that we have. i think that democrats are benefiting in some places from republicans' decision to spread their voters thinly. there is a misconception that parties create state seats for themselves. in pennsylvania, there are 6 republican seats that are from before the map is redrawn. redrawing a map could enhance opportunities for democrats and weaken some others. lois.hi,
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lewis. caller: i have been a longtime democrat. i asked my father, who do i vote for? he said to vote democrat. don't worry about nothing. i have been voting democrat. i watched the democrats and the republicans on tv. years ago whenry she told a friend of mine, don't worry. if you tell me what is going on where they have all of the chemicals and everything, your job will be safe with me. the next thing you know, she ,oes in the next day and says what are you doing here? you are fired. she is corrupted. i tried talking to people, and
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we finally got rid of her. it is a disgrace that the democratic party stooped so low in the last election. even with bernie sanders, i'm not in favor of bernie but -- lost it. as far as i'm concerned the democratic party is a disgrace to the country. host: robert in baton rouge, louisiana. independent. caller: i wanted to ask your guests, are there considerations when they redistrict for a third party or independent voters? not just democratic and republican? louisiana. guest: a valid question. a lot of the arguments before the supreme court now are that we should have maps that for proportionately represent democrats and republicans, but
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what about third-party voters? we have had a robust discussion ourhe facebook -- on facebook page on proposals. would we hear from some people is it is time for a more radical approach like proportional representation or multimember districts. if we got rid of districts, there would be more of an opportunity for third parties to be represented in the system. i do not think we are headed in that direction. .ost: let's takeif we got louisa when you look at that state, what is happening? guest: across the deep south, we have noticed that the voting rights act has created a lot of majority-minority seats. you can see the one blue seat from new orleans to baton rouge, a majority african-american district. it also helped to make surrounding seats whiter and
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more republican. we are seeing the pattern where in southern states you will have seat andity-majority republican seats surrounding it. craig in maryland. caller: it is like elijah cummings. he is from baltimore city, but he goes all the way to anne ,rundel county, into laurel places he should not be representing. that is wrong to the people around us. host: what do you make of the state of maryland and that comment? of maryland's districts are sprawling and oddly shaped. one in particular, the sixth district, it is held by a republican where democrats were able to redrawone in particular.
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they redrew it to favor democrats and got an extra seat. host: how did we get to the point that maryland looks like this? really wantedts to preserve their advantage. by drawing atch it seat from western maryland into the d.c. suburbs. you have a state with a logical breakdown of the delegation might be five-three for democrats. instead they have a 7-1 advantage using creative cartography. host: hi, dan. your thoughts on gerrymandering. caller: thank you for taking my call. i wanted to point out that many years ago republicans made an effort to focus on state level politics, putting money towards electing candidates at the state level. i think that that is very
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impactful on the discussion about gerrymandering, since democrats are trying to catch up at the state level putting money towards state-level candidates not justgislatures, the governorship. host: talk about the history there. guest: republicans did make an effort to take control of a lot of state legislatures. there was a lot of money put into that effort. democrats, a number of them, believe there was some involved in the way republicans gained the advantage. i think it was winning electio ns. democrats have learned that lesson and are making an effort to win back it governorship, because they will have veto powe r. host: in the special elections? guest: we have seen democrats in
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the past congressional elections in districts that hillary won. republicans are not showing up for candidates not named trump. host: good morning. ander: i was listening on this conversation and got the tail end of things. my issue is that i do not think it makes a difference if you are democrat or republican. , bothk, at this point parties need to work together better in order to get things accomplished. i am not going to lie, i am not a huge fan of donald trump because of the epa rollbacks. i am for the protection of the environment. as far as republicans or democrats, i am a democrat of
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course, but i do have candidates that were republicans in the past that i have liked. time,ng is, at this everyone needs to work together to get things done. the divide in this country right now is her renders. isis ridiculous -- horrendous. it is ridiculous. host: what would be considered fair for a bipartisan map? guest: we took election data for the past two presidential elections and compressed it to as small of an area as we could based onnew districts that. we were able to see the district.ip of a if we wanted to drop a heavily democratic map we could draw districts that were heavily democratic. that is similar -- that is a simplified version of the process that many state legislatures used to draw their
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maps. host: the project is called the atlas of redistricting. you can find it on their website . if our viewers want to play along, it is very interactive and you can see how your own state is drawn and how it would look under different scenarios. let's hear from frank. republican. caller: good morning. i was wondering what the effect would be if the supreme court mandated that district lines could only go down as far as county line boundaries. guest: one of our maps was designed to follow existing borders like counties and cities . a lot of people would say that is a logical approach. i agree. getink that the best way to politics out of the process would be blind to partisanship
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when drawing districts and arrange them logically around existing borders. the problem is that districts have to be equally populated. an current district has average of 750,000 people. if you stack counties together you are probably not going to get to that exact population. you have to split some of them. following borders is a reasonable approach. guest: there are some states, like the compactness requirements, some encourage map drawers to follow county and governmental borders. to do it is impossible that in every case and they are not extremely strict. host: impossible? why? guest: most cities are too big to make a district by themselves. in order to make them -- host: the population
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requirement. guest: the supreme court has been strict about one man, one vote. they have interpreted it that districts must be equally populated within a person, unless you are a state like iowa or west virginia, which are the only 2 that do not split counties at all. in most cases it has been a rigid interpretation. if we allowed more population variance we might have more regularly shaped districts. host: pennsylvania, democrat. hi, dennis. caller: thank you for taking my call. you mentioned pennsylvania. pennsylvania is rated the second-most gerrymandered state in the country. i live in the 10th district. is slightlytrict down along the pennsylvania-new jersey porter, a narrow strip
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across the top of the state, then angles down to the central part of the state. in threesentatives election cycles have been 13 republicans and five democrats. the state legislature, the house and the senate, have huge republican majorities. pennsylvania is certainly not a 75% or 80% republican state. it shows how they gerrymander. in fact, republicans only hold one statewide option and that is pat toomey. yet state. it shows how they gerrymander. , they have huge advantages in the house of representatives on the federal level, and in the house and senate at the state level. host: can you explain? guest: the caller is right. it was very close to the , yet it has level
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13 republicans and five democrats. there is one district outside of philadelphia that has been called the bullwinkle district because it reaches to lancaster county and parts of montgomery morey to take in republican voters. part of the reason for that advantage is the map. some of it is the natural geography. democrats of pennsylvania predominantly live in pittsburgh and philadelphia. drawresult, it is hard to nine out of 18 districts to be .emocrat-leaning seats we tried in our simulations to achieve more of a proportional breakdown and it required conscious gerrymandering. , talk aboutbycoffe your work coming up with the map that you see. guest: it is possible to draw
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the map that -- two draw a map that favors democrats. all of the purple districts outside of philadelphia. in an election where democrats do really well across the country in house elections, they will pick up a lot of those seats and have that advantage. host: independent. caller: the map that you show us, it would be a good representation of the american financial federation. it is a foundational element. we no longer have a republic. amendment one says speech is free. the supreme court and citizens united says that speech can be bought.
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speech has been bought. we now have, not a republic, but anbought. entirely financialized environment in our country. host: special interests play a role in redistricting and gerrymandering? guest: absolutely. are a lot of interest groups with a stake in the redistricting process. we'll see that again in 2020. that one of the reasons it is so hard to solve t, ismandering, to cure i that reformers have a hard time agreeing on how districts should be drawn. that is what we are trying to drive home. host: talk about that, aaron bycoffe. for you.cult was it talk about being a computational journalist, what does that mean? how are you gathering data and using it?
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guest: using data and computers to investigate a lot of these problems. that.can talk more about as far as analyzing with the districts look like and the votes that went into them, it is hard to get that data. even in pennsylvania now, one of the issues with the map is is that -- the map is that the supreme court asked for boundaries for the local precincts, and there is no central repository for everything. even the state has trouble putting that together. david can talk more about drawing the maps. host: i want to know how you gathered your data. you said it was difficult. precinct level data that we have we purchased from a private group. that is available in many cases. states do not necessarily have the ability to do that or have
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access to that. in pennsylvania, for example, charge ofty is in their own election and sets their own precinct boundaries. often, the maps are not available at all to the public. you have to get it on paper. it is a difficult process. host: this took six months. we are starting to understand why. guest: it was a massive data undertaking. would not have been possible without a free online app we use. it is a guy named dave bradley who is a programmer who developed this 12 that anyone can use to redraw their own district. andcan totally nerd out test different scenarios. we might have a few nerds watching c-span. guest: we have published the m
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aps in a format that you can use. and i mean that in a loving way. caller: good morning. thank you for this topic. my question goes like this. in redistricting, how is it determined from citizens who are allowed to vote rather than just population areas? i live in california. we have a lot of folks that may not be allowed to vote, but how do you count or discount them in the district? guest: when we draw districts, and i'm referring to the constitutional guidelines, reuse the total population. this has been a contentious issue. it was the subject of a supreme court case several years ago if districts should be based on citizen population or total population. of equallyr purposes
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populous districts. minors who are not eligible to vote, the supreme court ruled in favor of keeping the current guidelines, which is the total population. there is certainly a lot of concerns, particularly on the conservative right, about exactly who should count. guest: there is concern the justice department is pushing for the census bureau to ask about citizenship on their questionnaire. the concern is that that would cause a lot of noncitizens to not participate at all. host: what would happen then, david wasserman, during an election? guest: it could lead to a loss of representation for high populated areas with noncitizens if they are more reluctant to answer the census. theoretically, you could end up
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with slightly fewer citizens -- slightly fewer respondents who would count for the purposes of forming a district. host: maryland, democrat. caller: good morning. you answered my question already because you asked how you would set up gerrymandering. are you related to debbie wasserman? guest: no relation. host: good morning. i am in atually, suburb of st. louis. i live in a very gerrymandered district. i live in a district where the gerrymandering looks like a w prongs around the
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city of st. louis and a handle that goes to the lake of the ozarks. it is very, very gerrymandered in favor of the republicans. on a want to comment definition for gerrymandering given by josh stein, the ag of north carolina, on one of your other programs. that politicians choose their voters rather than voters choosing their politicians. i wanted to agree with the gentleman that we need to get united.itizens it is ruining our republic. i wanted to recommend a book that i saw on united. c-span about why your vote does not count by david daley. host: let's talk about missouri.
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guest: it is true that in a lot of cases politicians are choosing their voters rather than the other way around. that is why a lot of states, more and more states, are pushing towards forming these commissions to draw boundaries instead of having legislatures do it. is when someone is in congress they want to protect seat. they encourage the legislature to draw boundaries that will do that. host: is there a grassroots effort in multiple states pushing legislatures to resist that pressure and instead higher commissions, some sort of independent body, to draw the map? guest: the dilemma is it is hard to convince politicians to give up power willingly. there has been a referendum that.s that has led to
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for example, the commission that we have seen take power in california was a ballot initiative that was championed by arnold schwarzenegger. there are several other states in advance of 2020 there are robust reform movements. hawaii is one of them. we will see if that puts new rules in place for the next census. this has been higher profile this decade than last. host: louisiana, republican. caller: i would like to use that as an example redistricting is only a problem since democrats have been in control, or lost control, of the state legislatures. had 55% andublicans
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democrats 45%. democrats won 17 states and the republicans 14. hadin 2000, after the republics gained control of the texas and theure redistricting, all hell broke loose. the justice department sued. the democratic legislatures left on thete to avoid voting new districts. has only become a problem since the democrats lost so many elections. host: is it sour grapes by democrats? reason thisof the has risen to consciousness, particularly on the left, the last caller alluded to a book that has been high-ranking on charts.ymandering
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the theory is that republicans have rigged the elections. democrats have engaged in gerrymandering, not only currently in maryland, but in the past in states like georgia and texas. republicans have not necessarily gerrymandered more aggressively than democrats in the past. they have just had more power to theo because they won election before the last process. if democrats win a larger seat at the table in 2020, i wonder if democrats will be as strongly in favor of reform. s hate the way this is done, but the challenge is agreeing on a solution. host: good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i was wondering, what do you
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think, what do your guests think about getting rid of districting altogether and having representatives -- may be taking five representative statewide? -- statesdistricting like texas have 36 and georgia has 12, or whatever. it seems like they should have the same amount of representatives for their population and state in washington. maybe you could have one republican, one democrat, one , andendent or green party they run statewide instead of districts. host: david wasserman? have had proposals for radical changes on how we elect members of congress. the supreme court has held for many years that districts should
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be single-member districts. if we had statewide proportional representation, theoretically we would have republicans from massachusetts, democrats from utah, and perhaps more regional diversity, which is lacking now we could move to multimember districts or an algorithmic process for drawing the lines. there are many radical reforms that are a ways off from being realistic or feasible, but could present interesting outcomes. guest: there was a time when members fort-large multidistrict states. they do not exist anymore and i do not see us going back. host: james, massachusetts, independent. morning.ood thank you for c-span. my question was raised by your previous caller. at largept of
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representation throughout the state. i think it is fairly obvious that districts are a historical atcuriosity. why should we have representatives based on districts when we live in the , andnications age virtually every representative is concerned about issues all over the states? we need to take a fresh look at this and consider at-large representation for each of the states. thank you, very much. guest: the idea is that members of those districts will represent the people of those districts. a representative for philadelphia will have different priorities than a representative from pittsburgh. that is the case. if we went to multimember states
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where we only had at-large members you would lose -- you would see a lot of the local concerns go unheeded. that is the case. guest: there are also concerns about minority representation. whitelvania is largely a state, but you do have an african american majority district in philadelphia. how can you ensure that minorities have the ability to elect a candidate of choice? websiteease go to the aaron bycoffe -- to the website >> in about 25 minutes we will take you to the republican retreat to hear from paul ryan and mitch


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