Monday, October 2, 2023

Wisconsin maps rigged? OF COURSE THEY ARE! So what's the problem with admitting it?

With the possiblity of Wisconsin's gerrymandered maps being taken up by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the coming weeks, this post from a UW-La Crosse PoliSci professor piqued my interest.

PlanScore is done by a group of PoliSci professors throughout America, and tries to figure out how fair (or unfair) district maps are across the 50 states. It also looks at the last 50 years of these maps, and how they affected outcomes.

Having that history helps illustrate how slanted Wisconsin's maps are today. Here's the analysis done by PlanScore on Wisconsin's legislative maps for the 2000s, when courts drew the maps following a deadlock between a split Legislature and Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.

So in a 50-50 vote split under those maps, Republicans would win around 55 seats in the Assembly (55.6% of the seats), and Democrats 44. That's quite a bit different than what we have under the current GOP gerrymander, which is set up to give a 63-36 GOP advantage in a 50-50 year.

But PlanScore also has a measure known as mean-median, which gives an idea about where the "crossover" percentage is where control of the chamber can flip.

So the "50th seat" was around less than 54-46 GOP, allowing Dems to be likely to win the Assembly in a year they won by more than 8 points. And in 2008, when Barack Obama won Wisconsin by 14 points in the presidential election, Dems did take control.

But that wouldn't come close to happening under the current GOP gerrymander, as that "50th seat" ends up around 58-42 GOP.

Bruce Thompson made a similar observation in his Data Wonk column in Urban Milwaukee. Thompson imputed the vote totals in the close Wisconsin Senate race of 2022 (where GOP Ron Johnson won by 1%), and broke down the results by Assembly district. Using that information, he developed the following chart to predict how both Democrats and Republicans would fare with various % totals statewide.

Look at that gap between how GOPs and Dems do when they get between 45% and 55% of the vote. Thompson says this results in an advantage of 20+ seats in the Assembly for Republicans.
How much more generous is reflected in the next graph, showing the number of districts won by each party, depending on their statewide vote. If Democrats received 44.5% of the statewide vote, they would win about 32 of the 99 Assembly districts. By contrast, Republicans would win 52 districts if they received 44.5% of the vote. Thus, while losing the state-wide vote, they would still control the Assembly.

These numbers and other analyses are why the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Craig Gilbert wrote a recent breakdown that was titled: "Are Wisconsin's election maps 'rigged'? Here are the reasons the answer is yes.
Today’s map and the previous [2010s] map were intended to significantly boost [Republicans'] “natural” advantage by creating the greatest number possible of safe GOP seats. Doing so also required minimizing the number of competitive seats, which meant there would be fewer individual districts in play and less uncertainty about the overall outcome.

My conclusion from studying the previous gerrymander was that both factors — partisan line-drawing and the state’s political geography (where Democrats and Republicans live) — contributed significantly to the partisan tilt in the map.....

If Wisconsin ends up in the months or years to come with a non-gerrymandered legislative map, that map will probably still leave Republicans with a better chance than Democrats of winning the Legislature.

But that advantage won’t be nearly as lopsided as it is now. And it won’t be deeply artificial. It will make the overall battle for legislative control in this 50/50 state less predetermined (or “rigged”). It will almost certainly increase the number of competitive districts. It will make the outcome of legislative elections more meaningful and more responsive to public opinion and election swings, which will make the party in power more accountable.

That would be good for the state, good for elections, and good for voters.
Heck, Robbin' Vos admitted that is was HIS RIGHT to rig the maps for himself and his fellow Republicans.

So when Janet Protasiewicz was running for Supreme Court earlier this year, and said Wisconsin's legislative maps are rigged, she was making a statement of fact. She didn't say if it was the Supreme Court's role to do anything to those maps, or what they would do to them. And besides, Robbin' Vos is proud to admit he rigged the maps, since the victor (from 2010) gets the spoils (13 years later).

So explain how can you impeach a justice for a factual statement, and before the justice has ever taken any action to change the rigged maps? Under state law, you can't. Justice Protasiewicz and the rest of the Wisconsin Supreme Court should ignore the whining from the gerrymandered GOP Legislature, hear the case, make a decision and impose the remedy, and take it from there.

1 comment:

  1. It’s nothing less than fascism at work: if the election doesn’t go your way, simply nullify the election. So you can continue exercising the absolute, unfettered power you gave yourself.

    Well maybe not quite unfettered. There is the matter of that pesky Democratic governor, who still miraculously has some power after his sulking, defeated predecessor eviscerated the office in the lame-duck session after the 2018 election.

    Minnesconsin Tom