Dishonorable Mention: Ten More Notable Gerrymandered Districts
I hereby nominate the nickname “Isadora Duncan’s scarf fluttering dangerously close to the back wheel” to decribe TN-7′s shape.
Yes, a gerrymandered district even surrounds Washington, DC itself. It’d be ironic if it wasn’t so predictable.
Barney Frank’s MA-4 wins the award for District That Most Resembles the Original Gerry-Mander.
Spanish gold from shipwrecked 18th-century galleons isn’t the only treasure to be found in Florida; gerrymander-hunters know that Florida is the Mother Lode for ridiculous congressional districts, with glittering examples to be found all across the state. A prime example is Florida-16, perhaps one of the ugliest districts in the nation. It starts on Florida’s west coast with a series of soulless rectangles, traverses the entire peninsula and seems to peter out at the Atlantic shoreline…until you notice that the district seems to be leaking out of a tiny fissure on the beach and then drips down the eastern coast, before terminating inland once again. No human could have possibly conceived of such a monstrosity; only a software algorithm could be so unconcerned with proportion or harmony.
Florida-23 doesn’t look so bad at first glance, until you notice something screwy with its eastern edge. A seemingly sensible district degenerates into a series of apparently purposeless microscopic zigzags, so miniscule that this map doesn’t really capture their intricacy. Needless to say, this is the obvious handiwork of the computer that Florida politicians used to maximize their redistricting manipulation.
Florida-19 isn’t so much a congressional district as it is a glob of “gerrymandering leftovers.” Trapped between the computer-generated hyper-precise boundaries of Florida’s 22nd and 23rd districts, each of which was designed to encompass very specific electorates, FL-19 is little more than the area that didn’t match the required demographic profile of the other two districts. The orphaned territory was geographically cut off from the rest of the state, and so was necessarily designated as a district of its own, one with no cultural, geological or political coherence.
Despite being the most populous state, and thus having the most districts available for abuse, California is surprisingly only mildly afflicted with the gerrymandering bug. CA-38 is one of the very few districts in the state which can compete with the severe gerrymandering found elsewhere in the country. Since California’s political process is corrupt in the extreme, the only explanation for the lack of gerrymandering is that the state’s residents already self-segregate into crisply defined political zones. California may be ethnically integrated, but the state’s political camps don’t mix; Most Democrats wouldn’t be caught dead living withing five miles of a Republican, and vice versa. Politically mixed neighborhoods or areas are a rarity. Thus, there’s little need for gerrymandering, and on those few occasions where it would come in handy, it’s fairly easy to draw district boundaries to include the sought-after voters without creating a map-monster.
IL-19 goes by the name “Water-Skier Checking His iPad for Emails.”
The entire coastline of North Carolina is egregiously gerrymandered, NC-1 being no exception.
And bringing up the rear we have PA-6, which would have won the award for butt-ugliest district if it didn’t have so much brutal competition.
Curious to learn more about gerrymandering? Check out the first half of this essay, Gerrymandering 101.
More gerrymander-themed links:
- If you want to find out who won each of these gerrymandered districts in the 2010 elections, the New York Times election results page has a complete rundown of the winners and losers.
- All of the images in this report were derived from the official maps found at the National Atlas.
- A 2002 article in The Economist called “How to rig an election” is out-of-date but does give a good overview of gerrymandering, and explains how computer-assisted redistricting has made things much worse in the modern era.
- The Gerrymander Mojo Index gives a visual overview of district boundary complexity across the whole country, district-by-district.