The Fix is the Washington Post’s politics blog. Aaron Blake is one of its writers.
In a piece today, he writes that if the Republicans take the Senate this fall, they could hold it for years to come. Why? Because red states are somehow “gerrymandered.”
In the Senate, the GOP also owes its advantage to a kind of gerrymandering. But it’s natural gerrymandering rather than the political kind.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at the 2012 election. President Obama won 26 of the 50 states — a bare majority. But he needed to win basically all of the swing states (every one except North Carolina, in fact) in order to win that majority. That’s because there are many more solidly red states than solidly blue states, and Democrats need to win the vast majority of the ones in the middle.
Obama had to sweep those states because he and his party are unpopular in the other states. Republicans also have to win the swing states because their policies are unpopular in the blue states. They’re called “swing states” because they’re competitive and can be swung by one party or the other. Duh.
“Gerrymandering” is when politicians draw district maps in order to deliver them to one party or another. It’s a terrible practice, but both parties engage in it all over the country. It produces some truly creative map drawing, and leads to the likes of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee holding a death grip on her House seat in Texas, despite being unelectable practically anywhere else in the state. Gerrymandering is not an outgrowth of anything natural. It’s the result of political creatures giving themselves advantages. It’s not a new thing in American politics. It has been around at least since 1812. So it’s very well understood, and nearly universally denounced, even though both parties do it every chance they get.
So while many, if not most, House seats can be and are gerrymandered, and many state legislature seats are gerrymandered, there is no way to gerrymander the United States Senate. Senators are elected by entire states, whose borders have been around in some cases for centuries. So there is no such thing as “natural gerrymandering.”
Statewide elections can be fixed, rigged and stolen through fraud. But states cannot be gerrymandered.
What Blake decries as “natural gerrymandering” — and which he only applied to the red states — is just simply the dominance of one party in a given state over the other. It’s the will of the voters in the states.
So before we even talk about states that should be competitive at the federal level, Republicans have a double-digit advantage, as the map is constructed today.
So, should we re-draw the state borders to help the Democrats? That seems to be the implication, coming from the blog called “The Fix.”