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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stakes of the Midterms

Everybody knows the House is up for grabs this November (the Senate much less so) and that winning the House is the first real chance we have to check some of the the criminal abuses and destructive madness of the Trump administration (tho' Impeachment, a political process, seems to me unlikely even if Democrats manage the longshot of gaining control of that chamber despite the insanely bad math -- which is not to deny either that Trump's corruption and likely treasonable recklessness is impeachable in principle or that Democratic control of the Senate would be a good thing for the country even without impeachment, if only to halt ongoing Trump-Republican damage to the courts). But if you step back and contemplate the future of Republican election rigging and abuse, the stakes of the midterm elections, for the House, Senate, but also state offices and Governorships, if anything, grow far larger still. The future responsiveness of our system of government to the reality of a diversifying secularizing population coping with the amplifying stresses of climate change against the entrenched power of concentrated petro-chemical and digi-financial wealth and white supremacy is on the ballot this November. Via
In 43 states, the legislature draws the congressional district map. If one party controls the... governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature... it can draw a map that gives it far more House seats than the raw vote would suggest. The Supreme Court will announce decisions on two gerrymandering cases in the next few weeks, but unless it declares that partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution, this year's elections will have a huge impact on which party controls the House from 2022 to 2032. The reason is simple: Governors will be elected in 36 states in November, 34 of whom will be in office in 2020 and can veto congressional maps. Furthermore, in 22 states, state senators serve staggered 4-year terms, so half the state senators elected this year in those states will vote on the congressional maps after the 2020 census. But in all states, dislodging an incumbent state legislator is tough, so even those with 2-year terms will have the advantage in 2020. In short, the battle for the House for the next decade is starting right now. While it didn't get much publicity, during the Obama administration Republicans picked up 1,000 seats in the state legislatures. This gave them the ability to gerrymander districts in about half the states... during the 2010 redistricting year. Many Democrats are unaware of this, but Republicans are very much aware of it. In fact, the GOP's operation REDMAP has a goal of raising and spending $125 million simply to hold or get control of the nation's 99 state legislative chambers for the purpose of controlling the map-drawing process in 2020. The Democrats don't have any comparable program, though the matter is a focus of Obama and his former AG Eric Holder.

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