Does Redistricting Make a Difference?

Does Redistricting Make a Difference? : Partisan Representation and Electoral Behavior

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In 1812 the Jeffersonian-dominated Massachusetts legislature, with the approval of Governor Elbridge Gerry, split Essex County in an effort to dilute the strength of the Federalists. Noting the resemblance of the new, oddly shaped district to a well-known amphibian, a local newspaper dubbed the creation a "gerrymander." Less well known about this oft-recounted episode of American history, writes political scientist Mark Rush, is its outcome: in the ensuing election, the Federalists won the district anyway. Today, politically divisive redistricting-gerrymandering to some-still causes bitter reapportionment disputes, renewed threats of class action lawsuits, and legislative wrangling. In Does Redistricting Make a Difference? Rush offers a skeptical inquiry into this controversy and a critical assessment of the assumptions underlying current analyses of the redistricting process. He focuses on long-term voting results in redrawn districts and concludes that redistricting-at least given present criteria and guidelines-has little impact.
By showing how difficult it is to perpetrate a successful partisan gerrymander, Rush challenges the notion that an electorate can be organized into Democratic and Republican "groups." He further questions the validity of current political research-and highly paid political consulting-undertaken on the assumption that such organization is feasible. Certain to provoke discussion and debate, Does Redistricting make a Difference? is a timely look at a topic as controversial today as it was in the days of Elbridge Gerry.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 149.6 x 227.6 x 10.2mm | 288.64g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739101927
  • 9780739101926
  • 1,825,175

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Defining the Gerrymander Chapter 2 The Court's Approach to Gerrymandering and Representation Chapter 3 The Political Science Model of Voting Behavior and Its Importance for Redistricting Analysis Chapter 4 Theories and Methods of Gerrymandering Analysis Chapter 5 The States as Political Units Chapter 6 The Impact of Redistricting and Incumbency on Voting Behavior Chapter 7 Conclusion: Political Science, Representation, and Politics
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Review quote

Does Redistricting Make a Difference?... provides evidence that the assumptions made by legal experts and political scientists regarding the possibility of, and the consequences from, partisan gerrymandering may be faulty. It raises serious theoretical questions about concepts such as "fair representation" and "politically relevant groups." American Political Science Review
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About Mark E. Rush

Mark E. Rush is Associate Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University.
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