Even in this era of political cynicism, the brazenness of Republicans’ recent redistricting efforts—especially in Pennsylvania—seemed breathtaking. To demonstrate the absurdity of the revisions, Slate created a jigsaw-puzzle game challenging readers to put the dissected districts back together in state-shape.
Republicans openly boasted that their fancy re-carving won them their House majority in Washington. Mother Jones published a nifty graphic demonstrating the difference in the number of votes now required to elect a Democratic House member in various states, as opposed to a Republican member: In Pennsylvania, it takes 2.5 voters per Democratic rep, vs. one lone voter for a Republican. PoliticsPA bemoaned the results of the tortuous tinkering for the minority Dems: “the party’s worst performance in congressional races in a presidential cycle since before the Great Depression.”
The resultant bulletproof districts, pols have predicted, will lead to boring elections with no real doubt about the conclusions—which means voters stay home, and democracy loses. But Republicans win!
Um … not so fast. In the wake of the debacle that was the government shutdown, Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent points out that the sheer success of the redistricting may have real political costs for the GOP. Why? Because when you live in a bubble, all you hear is echoes:
This is emerging as another case–along with immigration and social issues–where the very fact that individual House Republicans live in safe districts, insulated from the currents of national opinion, is actively setting back the party’s efforts to broaden its national appeal. This dynamic is reinforced by the closed conservative information feedback loop, where a great majority of the American people are imagined to have mobilized enthusiastically behind the shutdown crusade, and are clamoring for a continued commitment to more scorched earth tactics against Obamacare.
Gerrymandering may have won Republicans the 2012 House battle. But when it comes to winning back the White House, isolationism doesn’t exactly rock. So keep on listening to Rush and Sean and Dick Morris, you greedy little lemmings. All it’s going to get the Democrats is four more years.