Posted on December 30, 2016
Redistricting Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives is a series of reports exploring trends in competition, partisan fairness and polarization in states that have reformed their redistricting practices.
Americans from across the political spectrum agree that Congress has become increasingly dysfunctional. In public discourse, partisan gerrymandering has been identified as a primary culprit. Concerns about gerrymandering are the driving force behind redistricting reform efforts and the adoption of independent redistricting commissions. The academic literature, by contrast, sheds doubt on the efficacy of redistricting reform and instead often explains increasing congressional dysfunction in terms of political geography. Americans appear to be self-sorting into ideologically cohesive communities that make drawing competitive and balanced districts difficult.
In this series of reports, we weigh the evidence on redistricting commissions in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, and Washington state. In the sixth report, The Impact of Redistricting Reform in the U.S. House, FairVote summarizes trends across the country and explores the potential impact of an alternative reform, Fair Representation Voting, on competition, partisan bias, and polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The first seven reports in the series are currently available:
Redistricting Reform in Arizona explores outcomes in the U.S. House under the state legislature-drawn map of the 1980s, the U.S. District Court-adopted map in the 1990s, and the two maps drawn by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in the 2000s and 2010s.
Redistricting Reform in California explores outcomes in the U.S. House under the state legislature-drawn maps of the 1980s and 2000s, the map drawn by an independent panel of retired judges (“Special Masters”) in 1992, and the map drawn in 2011 by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Redistricting Reform in Washington compares outcomes in the U.S. House in Washington state under maps drawn by the Washington State Redistricting Commission against the national average from 1984 to 2014.
Redistricting Reform in Hawaii and Idaho compares outcomes in Hawaii and Idaho, where U.S. House maps are drawn by commission, against other states with two-member U.S. House delegations such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Redistricting Reform in Iowa compare outcomes under the U.S. House district maps drawn by civil servants in Iowa against the national average and states with similar sized congressional delegations (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma) in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s.
Redistricting Reform in the U.S. House summarizes the findings from our five state-by-state reports on the U.S. House and compares outcomes in states with independent commissions against the national average. We also introduce Fair Representation Voting as a reform that can help further the goals of redistricting reform.
Redistricting Reform in State Legislatures focuses on outcomes in 82 state legislative chambers. We compare the aggregate differences in competition, partisanship distortion in representation, and polarization in the legislature in chambers in states that have adopted independent or semi-independent redistricting committees, states where courts have stepped in and imposed maps upon legislators, and states where the state legislature had full control over redistricting.