Monday, August 15, 2011

Four Things To Know About Redistricting

The boys and girls are back at the Gold Dome for their once a decade (if all goes well) redistricting party. Redistricting is so inside baseball, it should have its own clubhouse personnel. But it is the only thing that can radically change the political landscape for years if not decades, so it behooves us to pay some mind to what the yahoos have planned.

Here's four things to note in the coming weeks.

1. The Maps - You can find them here. I would advise using the Google Maps plug-in. Otherwise you may embarrass yourself as I did when I misread a squiggly line and thought I had been thrust into a Gwinnett County district.

2. The Democrats Will Whine - One person's whine is another person's positioning. Democratic caucus leader Stacy Abrams started the whining/positioning last week by pointing out 10 districts where Democrats are "paired" against each other. In other words, two incumbents will face each other in the primary.

The whining will ignore two salient facts: arguably the Democrats did much worse to the Republicans in 2002 and the recent electoral routs have left the Democratic caucus with such a striking low membership that it may not have been possible for the Republicans to do any worse.

3. The Republican Will Rub It In - Payback is hell and the Republicans have been waiting a long time for this one. In 2002, in a last ditch effort to stave off what everyone knew was going to be a series of wave elections, the Democrats drew up maps that were at times so absurd one district was called "a squashed daddy long legs". Elephants have long memories and their crowing at sticking it back to their opponents will be loud.

But they need to be careful of the over reach.The obvious goal of the majority party is to reach a super-majority that will have the votes to pass any Constitutional amendment. There are Republicans who privately say that may be too much power, even if it is in the "right hands". If they succeed and we see endless streams of "Bobby Franklin" style bills, the electorate will wake up and the reckoning may shut down the party early.

4. None of It Matters Because We're All Going To Court - Bottom line is Georgia is still under the aegis of the Voting Rights Act. This fact means our maps will be reviewed by the feds. One of two paths will be taken, either the Justice Department steps in to tinker or Secretary of State Brian Kemp takes the case directly to court. Either way, a panel of judges will ultimately decide the final lines on the map. And that's what Stacy Abrams statements are really about. And that's what GOP Chair Sue Everhart's press releases are really about. Positioning for the final act.

A prediction sure to be wrong: The judges will not alter the maps greatly for two reasons: The Republicans have been very clever is disguising their gerrymandering. Oh, it's there. It's just hard to see and what you do see looks mostly political, not illegal. Also, as I said before; with this few Democrats, there's just really not that many places you can put them.

So, let the curtain rise and the actors trod the stage. But remember, despite the cry and hew you hear from Capitol Avenue, we are only  in the first act.


Steve Perkins said...

A very well-reasoned and well-written post... right up until the last two paragraphs. *You* are able to spot the super-secret illegal gerrymandering, cleverly disguised as politics, yet federal judges are too dumb to make the same catch? I dunno... that conclusion comes across a bit thin. Why not go into specifics?

griftdrift said...

It's a question of politcal vs. legal. Squashing the Democrats does not equal VRA violation. They may have a problem with "packing" under section 2 but I could easily see a conservative court interpreting that as a matter of politics. The court doesn't get involved in "politics".

And I did say it's sure to be wrong. ;)

More detail later if I have time.