Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just a tiny bit more on partisan gerrymandering

One argument for courts not adjudicating partisan gerrymandering cases is that the phenomenon is inherently self-limiting: A party that seeks to maximize its seats in Congress will create as many districts as possible in which its partisans outnumber the opposition, but the more such districts it creates, the thinner it must spread its supporters. That makes these seats less safe. Leading up to Tuesday's elections, some observers said that Republicans were likely to fall victim to this phenomenon and there is undoubtedly something to this point, but it ignores the irreducible advantage a party can obtain by "packing" supporters of the other party into a small number of districts in which they have overwhelming majorities. So yes, the phenomenon is self-limiting, but the limit is a rather loose one.