Category Archives: Elections

Can Geometry Help Fix Our Political System? Mathematicians Invite Public To Fight Gerrymandering

Source: Carol Zall, WBUR, August 4, 2017

A group of Boston-based mathematicians calling themselves the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group are using their math superpowers to fight back against gerrymandering.

They’re holding a public event, the Geometry of Redistricting workshop, which begins on Monday. The workshop will feature lectures on legal and mathematical topics related to gerrymandering, as well as hands-on sessions on how to use open-source mapping software to redraw voting districts.

The connection between math and gerrymandering may not be obvious at first, but gerrymandering is (in part) about manipulating the shapes of voting districts — and who knows more about shapes than geometry experts? ….

The Congressional Map Is Historically Biased Against Democrats

Source: David Wasserman, FiveThirtyEight, August 7, 2017

When Democrats think about their party’s problems on the political map, they tend to think of President Trump’s ability to win the White House despite losing the popular vote and Republicans’ potent efforts to gerrymander congressional districts. But their problems extend beyond the Electoral College and the House: The Senate hasn’t had such a strong pro-GOP bias since the ratification of direct Senate elections in 1913.

Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.

This is partly attributable to the nature of House districts: GOP gerrymandering and Democratic voters’ clustering in urban districts has moved the median House seat well to the right of the nation. Part of it is bad timing. Democrats have been cursed by a terrible Senate map in 2018: They must defend 25 of their 48 seats1 while Republicans must defend just eight of their 52. ….

For First Time, Millennials And Gen X Were A Majority Of Electorate In 2016

Source: Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR, July 31, 2017

Political strategists, take note: For the first time, millennials and Gen Xers outvoted their elders in 2016, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Fully 69.6 million millennials (defined as people who were 18 to 35 in 2016) and members of Generation X (ages 36 to 51) cast votes in 2016, according to a Pew analysis of data from the Census Bureau. By comparison, 67.9 million baby boomers and members of older generations voted. This is the culmination of a steady march of the young electorate slowly catching up to the middle-aged and elderly electorates in terms of size.

Related:
Millennials and Gen Xers outvoted Boomers and older generations in 2016 election
Source: Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, July 31, 2017

Comparing the Voting Electorate in 2012-2016 and Predicting 2018 Drop-off: How the Electorate has Changed Over the Years and How that Informs the 2018 Cycle

Source: Celinda Lake and Joshua E. Ulibarri, Voter Participation Center, July 20, 2017

As part of our ongoing efforts to understand the voting patterns of the Rising American Electorate, we’ve worked with Lake Research Partners to produce this report, which catalogues the changes in voting turnout for the Rising American Electorate between 2012 and 2016 – and makes projections for voter drop-off in 2018.

The projections are sobering and troubling to everyone who cares about increasing participation in our great democracy. Our prediction is that 40 million Americans who voted in 2016 won’t cast a ballot in the 2018 midterms — and to make matters worse, 2/3 of those drop-off voters will be members of the Rising American Electorate. The RAE dropoff is projected to be particularly pronounced in key 2018 battleground states, such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Ohio …..

…. Add in the effects of ongoing vote suppression efforts and the implication is clear: Democracy is facing a headwind in 2018. We need to double down on voter registration, mobilization and turnout efforts, and fighting for voting rights in order to make sure that every American has the opportunity to raise their voice at the ballot box. ….

Securing Elections From Foreign Interference

Source: Lawrence Norden, Ian Vandewalker, Brennan Center for Justice, 2017

From the summary:
Amid ongoing investigations into Russia’s unprecedented cyberattacks around the 2016 election, this report outlines specific actions Congress and local election officials can quickly take to insulate voting technology from continued foreign interference. The authors focus on assessing and securing two of the most vulnerable points in the system: voting machines, which could be hacked to cast doubt on or change vote totals; and voter registration databases, which could be manipulated in an attempt to block voters, cause disruption, and undermine confidence when citizens vote.

Democrats Are Trying to Win the 2018 Midterms in All the Wrong Ways

Source: Steve Phillips, The Nation, July 18, 2017

If there are 7 million Obama-to-Trump voters, why didn’t Trump’s vote total increase by 7 million? …. It is quite possible that Democrats are going to spend nearly $1 billion trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. By buying into a myth about why they lost in 2016, they are ignoring the underlying math about what really happened—misspending huge amounts of money, while setting themselves up to lose again in the critical contests to come. ….

Related:
The Circular Firing Squad Isn’t Amusing Anymore
Source: Danny Goldberg, The Nation, July 19, 2017

The left is tearing itself apart. …. In order to have any chance of reversing the right-wing trends that began in the Reagan years, mainstream Democrats and progressives have to find ways to disagree without destroying the ability to accomplish their shared goals. Theories and tribalism must be subordinate to knowable or probable policy effects on the most vulnerable, on the 99%, and on the planet. …. False choices are a luxury that must be jettisoned. It is neither rational nor helpful to ignore misogyny as a factor in the demonization of Hillary Clinton (and for that matter Nancy Pelosi). Sexism is still a thing. On the other hand, Obama and Clinton partisans need to acknowledge that the vast majority of Bernie Sanders voters were not motivated by his gender but by his articulation of positions that they felt were an inspiring departure from the constricted political playing field of recent years. ….