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Gerrymandering and the Senate

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"Gerrymandering and the Senate"

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I heard this morning for about the hundredth time a very smart person give a presentation in which she (or more usually he, but this time it was a she) massively overstates the role of gerrymandering in creating problems for federal politics and policy.

There’s actually a really easy way to think about this: Look at the Senate.

State boundaries for better or for worse can’t be changed. So there’s no gerrymandering. So whatever problems gerrymandering is causing don’t exist in the Senate. Whatever problems gerrymandering is exacerbating should be much better in the Senate. If you want to believe gerrymandering is at the root of our problems, you ought to be able to produce a healthy list along these lines.

Personally, I have a hard time coming up with one. Conversely, since every Senator has a “district twin,” the Senate offers a good test of how constrained (or not) legislators are by their constituents. It seems to me that Judd Gregg is closer to Jeff Sessions than to Jeanne Shaheen and that Kay Hagan is closer to Pat Leahy than to Richard Burr.

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