IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The making of red America

Click for full map.
Click for full map.National Conference on State Legislatures

In Morning Maddow today, Tricia points to new Republican hopes for restrictions on abortion, in Arkansas and Wisconsin. Those headlines are the direct result of what happened in the states' legislative races, where Republicans now control both chambers. It may be that our national experiment with bipartisan government is over, or at least on hold, with one party having full control in a minimum of 37 states. That includes 24 states under GOP control and 13 states under Democrats.

We got here partly because of gerrymandering. Republicans got to draw most state legislative maps after 2010, including the twisted one now in place in Pennsylvania. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In Pennsylvania, Republicans took hold of 13 of 18 congressional seats while being outpaced by 75,000 total votes. Mr. Obama won 53 percent of the state's vote, but Democratic candidates won 28 percent of the seats. . . .

The same kind of results were repeated in the Obama states of Ohio (where Democrats won 25 percent of seats), Michigan (36 percent) and Wisconsin (38 percent), where the GOP also controlled redistricting. But in states where Democrats controlled the maps (such as Illinois and Massachusetts), Democrats didn't win congressional seats at the same rates as in GOP-run states, nor did they run up the score in states where maps are drawn by nonpartisan commissions or courts, such as New Jersey or Colorado.

Democrats benefit less from gerrymandering because their voters live in densely populated cities (see Mother Jones' charts on this), so they're much harder to divide into favorable districts. Now we get to see what Democrats will try to do in the fewer states they control (like Maryland and California) and what Republicans will try to do in theirs. This morning in Maine, where voters gave Democrats control of the legislature, incoming Democratic leaders are reconsidering Republican policies like tax cuts that drained the treasury and cuts to Medicaid. In Wisconsin, an Obama state with a Republican government, lawmakers are talking about forcing women to view ultrasounds. Elections have consequences, sometimes far down the road.