Saturday, March 26, 2011

What you know about redistricting is wrong

At the risk of alienating 40% of my readership (AKA Ian & Jamie) it's worth noting that, while I appreciate and support the goal of increasing minority influence in politics, creating "monolithic" districts like this have, historically, had the opposite long term effect as Nate Silver has demonstrated in his excellent statistical analysis I am to lazy to go find and link to here.

Basically, the influence of minority groups and enactment of policies that reflect that influence has historically been maximized in balanced districts. The reason is likely that putting a district in play the political parties generally need to appeal to a larger constituency with more diverse interests as well as forcing interest groups to make their case to a larger community than they otherwise would.

First aside: this is also an example of the sloppiness of activists that bug me. I get that creating blocs is intuitive, but it also is empirically counterproductive. If you claim to be an activist (or a business analyst, etc) and also claim to specialize in a specific area I think it's reasonable to expect you to actually do some research.

Second aside: I agree with the point in the article that while minorities vote en masse for Democrats this is not the same thing as having the same interests across the board and treating them as a single monolithic bloc is also counter-productive.


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