GOP memo brags party kept the House by gerrymandering

By targeting legislature races in 2010, Republicans say they were able to keep control of the House

Topics: House Republicans, 2012 Elections, Gerrymandering, Redistricting, 2010 Elections,

A new report from Republican State Leadership Committee boasts that the party was able to keep control of the House of Representatives by gerrymandering prior to the 2012 elections.

The RSLC’s report was called “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013,” and outlines how the group used $30 million to target Democratic-held state legislature races in 2010, in blue states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In the midterms that year, Republicans went from controlling 14 state legislatures across the country to controlling 25.

By pumping money into the relatively small-time races, the RSLC pushed in Republican legislators who in turn influenced the redistricting process in their states, which gave Republicans an edge in a number of congressional races in the 2012 elections.

“The rationale was straightforward,” the report says.“Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn. Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.”

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From the report:

Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.

The report credits the strategy with overcoming the 1.1 million more votes that went for Democrats in the popular vote. In Pennsylvania, for example, 83,000 more votes went to Democratic House candidates than Republicans overall, but 13 Republicans and five Democrats were elected. Same in Michigan: 240,000 more votes went to Democratic congressional candidates, but the breakdown of the elected representatives was nine Republicans to five Democrats. “Nationwide, Republicans won 54 percent of the U.S. House seats, along with 58 of 99 state legislative chambers, while winning only 8 of 33 U.S. Senate races and carrying only 47.8 percent of the national presidential vote,” the report says.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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