Senate The Future of the Republican Party

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. LandoThe CapeCalrissian Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2012
    star 3
    well I also feelt hat a lot of the people who vote democrat are from densely populated urban cities and these republicans are scattered all down south. This also factors into a GOP run congress.

    I made many posts on these republican congress members, the vast majority are the dumbest people who could ever hold an elected seat. These anti science hillbillies destroying our country and trying to bring us back to the late 1800's.
  2. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    the divide is, more particularly, rural vs urban, with suburban areas being the battleground. However, fivethirtyeight, a few months back, talked about how one factor in all this really is that the areas Democrats represent are simply high portions of democratic voters to begin with. In other words, you don't see the rural areas being won by republicans with margins on the same scales that you see urban areas being won by democrats. Or at least, that this represents enough of an issue to potentially skew.

    There is also that plenty of people vote for divided tickets. Example, while I think my dad has been voting for Republican presidents for the last 15 years or so, he's also been voting against the Republican representative for our district for the same time.
    From the standpoint more of data, looking at all the Senate races in 2012 compared to the presidential results, there were 6 out of 31 Senate races where one party one the presidential race, and the other party won the Senate race. 3 of them were not a close race in either case. The median change in the spread was just shy of 8%. And that's without addressing any other variables that would be introduced from urban vs rural distinctions.
  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    In North Carolina, the urban areas (Mecklenburg, Guilford, Durham and Wake Counties) and the college towns (especially Asheville and Chapel Hill) generally vote Democrat, whereas every other county generally goes Republican. The biggest problem is that the population of our urban areas only represents about 1/3 of the state's total population.

    [/proud Mecklenburg County resident]
  4. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Oh, I'd say in most states that holds true.

    Here's the map for 2012 broken up by county:
    http://freedomslighthouse.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2012electoralcountybycountymap111612web.jpg

    In Nevada, you see Las Vegas and Reno in blue. In Tennessee, it's Nashville. In Texas, you can see where Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston are (4 of the blue counties surrounded by red). In Missouri, you can spot Kansas City on the left, St Louis on the right, and I think that's Jefferson City in the middle. In Pennsylvania, you can see Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and I believe two of the other spots are around Harrisburg and Allentown. Even in relatively blue states like Illinois, Washington, Oregon, and California, you can see where the more rural areas are of those states by looking for where the counties are red (and then there's Orange County, California).

    The distinction very much is urban vs rural rather than north vs south or some dynamic like that. But that's a much harder distinction to make and is usually skipped over.
  5. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    The problem is that the claims of "gerrymandering" betray an assumption that people tend to be partisans, rather than voting for individuals.

    Let's look at one of those states you mentioned. For convenience, I'm picking Virginia (since I live there and am most familiar with it).

    In the 2008 elections, Obama won Virginia by a margin of 52.63% to 46.33%. Mark Warner won the Senate race with 65% of the vote (about 12 points higher than Obama). At the same time, Virginia's 11 congressional districts split 5 to Republicans and 6 to Democrats (where before it had been 8R and 3D). Of those 11 elections, 2 incumbents lost, 8 incumbents won, and there was 1 open seat (won by a Democrat). Two of those incumbents ran unopposed (1 R and 1 D).

    In 2010, two of those freshman Democrats lost to Republican challengers. (A third Democrat incumbent lost in the 9th district. Rep. Boucher had represented the district since 1983, and had won reelection in 2008 even as the district voted 59% for McCain that year.) In 2012 (using the new districts), no incumbents lost in Virginia (and there were no open seats).

    Contrast that with 2009's statewide races. the GOP swept the statewide offices with more than 56% of the vote. The House of Delegates went from being 55 R (including 2 independents who caucus with them) and 43 D (with 2 vacant seats previously held by Ds) to being 61 R (including the independents) and 39 D. The 2011 statewide races had the State Senate shift from 22 D and 18 R to a 20/20 split (with the R Lt Gov swinging it to Republican control). The House of Delegates shifted to 68 R (including 1 independent) and 32 D. With the redistricting, 3 new districts were created in Democrat-heavy Northern Virginia, and 3 districts were eliminated in more rural areas.

    When you look at the totality of the situation, it's fairly clear that neither party really has a strong advantage, and none of it can really be explained by gerrymandering. (If gerrymandering were the source of the Republican majority in the House delegation, you would expect there would have been a change in 2012, when in reality all incumbents from both parties won re-election.)
  6. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    I said all politics is local, and many of the races can be attributed to the individuals running. However, I find it rather a stretch to say it's a convenience that Republicans dominate all but 2 of the swing states because they fielded better local candidates that often.

    Taken PA for example. Corbett redrew the lines to force to suburban Pittsburgh seats that go Democrat, Critz and Altmire, into one district and, after adding in some rural pockets, allowed a Republican to win in that area in 2012. A full 12 out of 18 of our Congressional districts are reliably Republican and more conservative than the state - and country - as a whole. And we're a centre-left state.

    Also, KK, you seem to have said that Democrats were the beneficiaries of gerrymandering in the second half of the 20th Century but that Republicans aren't using it to their benefit now. Am I reading that right?

    Again, I'm not saying it's something to deplore. Democrats are currently using it to get maximum seats in Maryland and Massachusetts and most other liberal states.
    Last edited by shinjo_jedi, May 9, 2013
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    My point is that that claim that the Republicans only have control of the House is because of gerrymandering is at best a red herring.

    I think gerrymandering in general is an abominable idea, but it's also a fact of life as long as we have politicians deciding what district boundaries are. Like I said before, I would prefer a clearly defined algorithm that divides each state up into the appropriate number of districts while making each district as compact as possible. The only exceptions I would make are minor changes to allow boundaries to follow geographical features, where possible (such as a river or mountain range, etc) to minimize travel time between precincts in the same district. I also would support requiring that algorithm be used in every state (although that would require an Amendment).

    Until then, I personally see a lot of the complaints about gerrymandering to be more of a complaint that "the other guy" is doing it.
  8. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    I never said "only" but that it's a large contributing factor. And it's not a complaint about the Republicans because, again, I noted that the Democrats have done it in the past as well and, again as I've said, it's a part of politics.

    I also said it's not something to deplore as both sides do currently and have benefited from it, but that in the present Congress it's helping to keep many seats red.

    Again, as I said, all politics is local but I find it a stretch to attribute local politics to Republicans winning 67% of the seats in states that Obama won twice.

    I guess I am wrong. It must not be because of how the lines are drawn, but the great governance shown by the House GOP. I mean, they're voting for, what, their 39th time to repeal Obamacare this week? What class.

    Until then, I personally see a lot of complaining that I'm simply being a blind partisan and your reactionary defense of anything by the GOP.
    Last edited by shinjo_jedi, May 9, 2013
  9. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    How do you attribute Republicans sweeping the statewide offices in a series of landslides in Virginia only a year after Obama took the state in 2008 (and Warner won with 65% of the vote)? Both years they were statewide races, and Obama won the state twice. Or is it a stretch to believe that a significant portion of the population votes differently for different offices?
  10. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    I've said people vote differently, just that the disproportion between Republican seats and their share of the vote simply does not match up.

    In PA, Republicans hold 13 of the 18 Congressional seats. Yet they only won 48.7% of the popular vote for House seats to the Democrats 50.3%.

    In your VA, Republicans hold 8 of the 11 seats. Yet they won 50.4% of the popular vote for House seats to 48.5% of the Democrats.

    In MI, Republicans hold 9 of the 14 seats. Yet they received only 45.6% of the House votes to 50.9% by the Democrats.

    In WI, Republicans hold 5 of the 8 yet trailed in popular House votes 48.9% to 50.4%.
    Last edited by shinjo_jedi, May 9, 2013
  11. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    By the same token, you could say that Obama's electoral victories in 2008 and 2012 don't match his popular vote totals. After all, he got 67.8% of the electoral vote, but only won 52.9% of the popular vote in 2008. In 2012, he won 61.7 of the electoral vote, but only 51.1% of the popular vote.

    The reason for both of those is the same. In a specific House district, all a person has to do is win the most votes. If a Republican wins 51% of the vote in one district, and a Democrat wins 70% of the vote in another district, the each win. In the same way, Obama won quite a few states by a razor-thin margin in 2012 (a total of 500000 votes in 4 states could have thrown the Electoral vote to Romney), but because he won the popular vote in those states, he got all of the electoral votes.

    If members of political parties were evenly distributed across the state, you might have a point. But they aren't. Democratic voters tend to cluster in the urban areas and Republican voters tend to cluster in the more rural areas (making the suburban areas competitive). Since it's simply not feasible to make every district evenly distribute urban and rural voters, you will get some lopsided districts on each side.
  12. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    I don't see how the electoral college vs. popular vote example is relevant. Yes, Obama (and most presidential candidates) do not see their share of the popular vote match their electoral vote. But switching systems would not alter the outcome (except 2000). In just the above states, Republicans lost the popular vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin but gained a significantly higher number of seats.

    I'm completely aware of the imperfect logistics of the situation and the rural v. urban split. That still doesn't change the numbers that are currently favoring the GOP.
    Last edited by shinjo_jedi, May 9, 2013
  13. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    It's relevant because it's the same basic principle at work. It's the effect of a winner-takes-all system in each district.

    Because of demographics and geography, you are going to get some districts that are heavily weighted to one side or the other. This is especially true in urban areas, where it is easier to create small on compact districts. More than anything, that simple fact alone accounts for why the most Democrat-leaning districts are far more out of balance than the most Republican-leaning ones. In many cases, it is almost impossible to create a more "balanced" district without gerrymandering.

    You claim that the numbers are currently favoring the GOP, but I would argue that if it favors them at all, it's only by a slim margin (as the 2006 and 2008 elections showed). In contrast, the Democrats gain significant advantages because of their reliance on urban voters (where, for example, GOTV efforts are easier to run).

    Gerrymandering is something I'd love to see done away with, but as things stand right now, it is at best a minor contributing factor to why either party gains or keeps control of Congress.
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    this census report is great:
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p20-568.pdf

    The white non Hispanic vote dropped by 2 million in 2012 from 08.
    black vote up by 1.7 million
    Hispanic vote up by 1.4 million
    blacks had the highest overall voting rate in 2012

    white non hispanics went from 82% of the voting population in 1996 to 73.7% in 2012
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    It is probably also worth keeping in mind that it's not exactly unheard of for incumbents, as a group, to push policies to keep them in power, even in bipartisan efforts. (though more at the state election level, where they can draw the lines that will keep them in office rather directly)

    That said, I think this should be a testable claim. If the reason for the total vote count being led by Democrats, but Republicans winning more seats, is gerrymandering, then you would further predict that you should find that most of this comes from states that are Republican-controlled that were able to design redistricting having Democrats with high percentages because they've tried to put as many Democrats as possible in as few districts as possible, but conversely, we would NOT expect the same to hold in Democrat-controlled states. However, if the issue is that certain areas are naturally a high ratio of Democrats to Republicans, then there should be more Democrats winning with large shares, but across the board, not just in red states.

    Looking at 2012 results, this can be tested. I used a cutoff of 70% of the vote, and only if they didn't run unopposed or just against third party candidates. When you do this, 28 of the 234 Republicans won at least 70% of the vote in a contested seat. However, 65 of the 201 Democrats did the same. So winning Democrats were around 2.5x more likely to have had more than 70% of the vote in their race. So, there is something very real, statistically, that Democrats tend to be very highly concentrated in some districts. This can also be thought of that almost 70% of the districts where someone won by greater than 70% went to Democrats, even though they only won around 45% of the total seats.

    From here, then, it's to look at what states these happened in. The number of Republicans winning by greater than 70%, per state: Alabama -2, Arkansas -1, Florida -2, Georgia -2, Illinois -1, Kentucky -1, Louisiana -3, Mississippi -1, Missouri -1, Nebraska -1, Oklahoma -1, Tennessee -4, Texas -6, Utah -2
    The number of Democrats winning by greater than 70% per state: Alabama -1, California -13, Connecticut -1, Florida -2, Georgia -3, Hawaii -1, Illinois -3, Maryland -2, Massachusetts -2, Michigan -2, Minnesota -1, Missouri -1, New Jersey -3, New York -11, North Carolina -3, Ohio -1, Oregon -1, Pennsylvania -3, Tennessee -1, Texas -4, Vermont, Virginia -1, Washington -3, Wisconsin -1

    I'll note now that California was redistricted by a panel that was intended to be non-partisan on average (with some allegations that a few of the non-partisans had strong ties to Democrats) so that may even be close to something of an uncontaminated sample. But if you group these by party control in 2010 as a proxy for what party would have been in control leading up to 2012 with the ability to redistrict, then we can see how that changes things. In states where both bodies of the legislature were controlled by Republicans, there were 23 Democrats that won by >70% and 20 Republicans that did so. In states where the legislature control was split, there were 13 Democrats that won by >70% and 4 Republicans. Finally, in states that had legislatures with Democratic control, 29 Democrats won by >70% and 3 Republicans that did.

    This pattern, that Democrats winning with large shares vs Republicans winning with large shares, is something that would be presumed to be highest in states with Republican legislatures trying to consolidate Democratic voters and spread out Republicans, while it would be lowest when the reverse would be the case in states controlled by Democrats. We don't see that pattern present, however.

    The incident rate can also be broken down. Overall, 6.4% of House seats were won by Republicans with >70% shares, and 14.9% were won by Democrats with >70% shares. In Republican-controlled states, those numbers were 10.1% and 8.8%, respectively. In divided-control states, those numbers were 19.4% and 6.0%, respectively. Finally, in Democrat-controlled states, those numbers were 21.5% and 2.2%, respectively.

    Overall, this just doesn't seem consistent with the expected results for the reason the House is controlled by Democrats being that Republicans have drawn the boundaries. Were that the case, we'd expect to see that Republican-controlled states would have many Democrats winning by large amounts and few Republicans winning by large amounts so that Democratic votes are wasted on large margins and Republican votes are better utilized to secure multiple seats. However, that's not what seems to come from the data.

    I think, with that all in mind, it does seem as far more reasonable that much of this is tied to something other than who drew the boundaries, particularly as many of the districts that are large wins for Democrats are urban areas and relatively small districts. There are some districts in here that have had accusations of gerrymandering, such as North Carolina's 12th district, but they don't appear to be an explanation for the overall trend. The patterning that districts with large Democrat shares tend to include larger urban areas, while large Republican shares tend to be very large rural areas without any major cities appears to be the dominant factor, no matter which party would have the ability to influence how boundaries are drawn, and points to that the excess in Democrat votes is not from how districts are drawn, but the natural distributions of populations.
  16. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Guys. Why are you debating this so hard. People have already admitted redistricting helps a lot.

  17. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Hasn't the whole gerrymandering problem been circumvented in some states by giving the responsibility of drawing districts to nonpartisan commissions?
    Summer Dreamer likes this.
  18. Emperor_Billy_Bob Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 7
    Don't forget voter suppression

  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Yes, it has. This is the ideal solution.
  20. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    Additing on...The Republican State Leadership Committee even admits it was part of their strategy:

    "The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is releasing this review of its strategy and execution of its efforts in the 2010 election cycle to erect a Republican firewall through the redistricting process that paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.

    ...

    The rationale was straightforward: Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn. Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade."
  21. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    So I'm not sure if we're still discussing if the Republicans are actually gerrymandering or not... so....

    I'm about two months late on this, but this Peggy Noonan column is astounding. These two quotes I'll just highlight:

    It’s not a debt and deficit crisis, it’s a jobs crisis.

    He should have seen unemployment entering a crisis stage four years ago, and he did not. At that time I was certain he’d go for public-works projects, which could give training to the young and jobs to the experienced underemployed, would create jobs in the private sector and, in the end, yield up something needed—a bridge, a strengthened power grid. He instead gave his first term to health care.

    So I don't have to type out my thoughts for why I think these two quotes are unbelievable, here's the New Yorker tearing it apart.
  22. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    On another note, I think a large part of the rebranding the GOP needs to do is to stop throwing temper tantrums over every issue and attacking Obama over petty, childish things. I'm currently referring to that he had a marine hold an umbrella for him in the rain.

    You had the Daily Caller report that he breached marine 'protocol', the tweet/Facebook post from that Alaskan governor who quit her job, a Republican fundraising email, a Facebook meme that I had to see too many times, Lou Dobbs calling it 'classless', Sean Hannity and his faux outrage, and the list goes on and on and on and on. All of this despite that a simple Google image search can give you endless photos of Reagan and both Bushes standing under an umbrella held by a marine.

    Come off it. It's absurd at this point. The birth certificate, the teleprompter, "communism" and "socialism" charges, "death panels," he misspoke on his swearing in, he's a Muslim...
    Juliet316 likes this.
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, the New Yorker stated Noonan and the president were in agreement. The columnist didn't exactly tear it apart. He just thought it was unbelievable that Noonan was thinking the president didn't do the things Noonan was suggesting he should have done. He then said the president did just what she was suggesting. Baloney. This president didn't advocate a New-New Deal. Instead, he equivocated. He tried a compromise that didn't satisfy the infrastructure and employment needs like a vigorous public spending vision would have provided and he extended the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax holiday.He watered it down. And the GOP still largely voted against it. Great leadership Obama.

    So Obama didn't go far enough. He lacked the necessary vision, instead opting to try watered down legislation in order to get something passed on a bipartisan basis. And the opposition still voted against it.

    It was his failure of vision and lack of leadership at play right out of the gate. He could've come in with a massive New-New Deal and negotiated from that higher starting point. Ask for everything you need and then some. But, he started from a much lesser position and so ended up with even less than that weakened position.
  24. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    This again, Shane? He didn't start his term with 60 sitting Democratic senators, as Al Franken's seat was still being contested. He needed Republican support to pass the measure. He barely got through the present stimulus, and only then by shaving money off his initial public proposal. The idea that he could have gotten something by proposing a substantially larger sum is just facially stupid and ignores the actual history of what happened.
  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Effective negotiators and salesmen aim high. He aimed too low. In negotiations you always start high and slide. The agreeable middle will always end up closer to your goal than if you start under your desired goal. That's stupid and he paid for it. You dont start low and under your goal and then slide from there. You can tell he never sold a thing in his life.