While Voters Reject Their Ideas, Republicans Rig The Electoral System
Republican approval ratings hit record lows following the October government shutdown with just 32 percent of the country having a favorable view of the GOP. Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone says the question we should be asking isn’t “Why did the GOP do that to us?” but “Why were they even relevant in the first place?” After all, the entire country has been trending bluer and bluer for about a decade.
In 2012, Barack Obama became just the fourth president in the last 100 years to win two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. During the same election, Democratic candidates for House and Senate seats earned nearly 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet, Republicans managed to walk away with a 33-seat majority in the House and a non-filibuster proof minority in the Senate.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates won 51 percent of the state vote but only won five of the 18 seats up for grabs. According to the Princeton Election Consortium, the Republicans won 13 more seats than they should have in six states alone based on traditional statistics.
How did they do it? GOP operative Tom Hofeller and his magical redistricting software. Since state legislatures are responsible for redistricting, Republicans like Karl Rove targeted states with GOP majorities like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina to enact numbers-driven redistricting that would guarantee the Republicans more seats. Using the software, Republican strategists identified the best way to maximize their advantage. The redistricting led to blue districts where Democrats would easily win with about 20 percent of the vote while Republican districts would be won by a comfortable nine to 12 points. This would allow Republicans to win more seats across the state despite gaining fewer votes.
Since Republicans went down this road, only two Republicans have won with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Now, with support further waning, Republicans are looking for more cheat codes to beat the next level of electoral politics. More than a dozen states have passed voting restrictions targeted at Democratic voters after the Supreme Court struck down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. As Republican party operative Don Yelton recently said in a Daily Show interview, the purpose of these laws is to “kick the Democrats in the butt.” If the law disenfranchises college students without photo IDs or “hurts a bunch of lazy blacks,” Yelton said, “so be it.”
(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)