UPDATED As the party that practices the cult of victimhood, it is not surprising that Wisconsin Democrats play the victim themselves.
Democrats — as they never tire of pleading — are victims of Republican gerrymandering most foul. That can be the only explanation why once bright-blue Wisconsin has turned deep red in the span of six years. Can’t be anything wrong with the liberal-progressive-socialist message.
The Wisconsin State Journal, which seems to get bluer with every State Street protest march, is all in on the We Wuz Robbed narrative. Columnist Chris Rickert repeated John Nichols’ talking point — that voters got the shaft because Democrats got 174,000 more votes than Republicans in 2012 — the first election after redistricting — but won only 39 of the 99 seats in the State Assembly.
Your Humble Squire thanks the State Journal for printing his postulation (“Don’t blame the maps“) that Republicans aggrandized fewer overall votes because they made the race in only 78 Assembly districts— meaning they received zero votes in 21 districts.
That prompted this response from one William Hartje of Evansville: Pshaw and harrumph! Of course Republicans didn’t contest those 21 districts, he writes:
That is how gerrymandering works. They had constructed districts with as many Democratic-leaning voters as possible in just a few areas. And don’t blame this on Democrats living in cities, as he tried to do.
An arguable point but not dispositive. Democrats make the race in 95 of 99 districts — even in deep red Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee Counties. They’re just a different breed of cat. Government is their life. Republicans tend to wear the green eye shade — unless they have a reasonable chance of winning, they’ve got better things to do than run for office.
Stung by the Policy Werkes’ incontrovertible evidence, Sunday (02-19-17) Mr. Rickert works his abacus to conjecture what might have happened if as many Democrats stayed out of the same number of Assembly races in 2012 as the 21 districts Republicans left uncontested. He finds that Republicans would have garnered up to 2.5% more votes than Democrats in the statewide aggregate. But, Mr. Rickert cavils, that doesn’t account for the 60-39 edge Republicans enjoyed.
The point, Chris, is that Wisconsin does not elect its representatives proportionately but by district. Every state does that. So does Congress. Otherwise, we’d have a multi-party system like Italy and changes of government every 16 months or so.
Let’s all play The Blame Game
I don’t know if The Squire “blamed” Democrats for living in the cities. I merely stated that Republican map makers did not “pack” Democrats into the cities, as Rickert had alleged. Two men and a Truck did that.
Retired UW Law Prof Ann of Althouse employed the Socratic method::
But isn’t that because Democrats have gerrymandered themselves by living in Madison and Milwaukee? I can believe we are the most sharply geographically partisan state in the union. It didn’t take power-grabbing legislators drawing new and devious lines to make that so. It can be partly or mostly the behavior of people choosing where to live and being like-minded with our neighbors.
I have no doubt that where there was opportunity, Republicans plucked a choice township here and discarded a troublesome village there. But just try to find even two districts in either Dane or Waukesha Counties where Republicans and Democrats have an equal shot, never mind 99.
So, let’s try our hand at drawing a competitive district. Junior Map Makers, let’s assemble in front of the statue to the well known Communist, Clarence Kailin, erected by the People’s Republic in James Madison Park on the shores of Lake Mendota. You are standing in the heart of the 76th Assembly District, represented by Rep. Chris Taylor, formerly an abortion rights lobbyist. She succeeded Mark Pocan who succeeded Tammy Baldwin. Willy Street, Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, you get the picture. Overwhelmingly Leftist.
To draw a competitive 76th District, one would have to:
• Snake along the median strip of East Washington Avenue, tunneling through the 48th, represented by Melissa Sargent, D-Madison
• Continue past East Towne Mall through the Town of Burke, represented by represented by Diane Hesselbine, D-79th
• Continue past the city of Sun Prairie, represented by Democrat Gary Hebl of the 46th, before emerging into the outskirts of Columbus and the bracing, fresh air of a Republican Assembly district.
Mr. Hartje ignores entirely the bottom line question. We repeat it here:
What great advantage did this supposed gerrymandering provide? Before redistricting, Republicans controlled the State Assembly 59 to 39 (with 1 independent who voted with Republicans) in 2010. The so-called gerrymandering rendered their advantage in the next election to 60-39 — a pickup of one seat.
Mr. Rickert’s newspaper crabs about Republicans sticking taxpayers with the bill to defend against the Democrats lawsuit. Can we pause to absorb that for a minute?
Democrats are the ones bringing suit. They’re blaming their failures on The Other Guy. Do you expect Republicans to roll over and say “our maps are bad.”
The State Journal promotes the Iowa system whereby a supposedly non-partisan panel draws the maps. We’re leery of “non-partisan” bodies. Was the Government Accountability Board non-partisan when it green lighted the armed, pre-dawn speech police raids on conservative activists? For that matter, is the state supreme court non-partisan? The U.S. high court? (And Iowa had no more competitive races — within 10 percentage points — in 2012 than Wisconsin.)
Democrats lost their first federal court appeal of the 2010 legislative maps but won a separate case at the appellate level by a 2 to 1 decision. The maps will be upheld when the case gets to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ann of Althouse says so her ownself.
One more point, the appellate court could have directed the courts to redraw the legislative maps. Instead, it sent the job back to Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald. It is a legislative function.