“The most important influence on how members of Congress vote is not their constituents, but their party.”— John Sides debunking in the Washington Post the oft-repeated refrain that gerrymandering is what is wrong with American politics today. Sides is an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University.
John Sides might be true about the nature of politicians, but it's not something to live by. Look what this got GOP; they were so convinced that they were safe after winning in 2010 mostly because peoples feeling of angst over the economy. But this election was a reminder to people who put party over people. It's not a very good thing.
John Sides needs to walk in Boehner's shoes. He needs to turn on C-Span. He needs to watch more elections. He's off base.
False dichotomy. Both gerrymandering AND the influence of the party are problems with the extremist, uncompromising modern gop.
I really don't understand how he supports his argument... If districts weren't gerrymandered, then the elections would be more competetive. Perhaps he is suggesting that whoever wins that election will vote based on their party, and will not vote in a more partisan manner if they've won a bigger percentage of the vote... but it means they are more likely to get a successful challenger from the middle, rather than from the extreme. Gerrymandered districts afford security to extreme views. It's really hard to swallow that reduced competitiveness doesn't affecting voting patterns.
> John Sides debunking...
Not really. Sides is answering a different question, 'do pols generally vote along party lines?'
He's not really delving into the effects of gerrymandering itself (which Sam Wang does an interesting job here) on Dem vs. Repub voting behavior or, what I feel is more important to this discussion - Repub vs. Repub behavior*.
(*the idea being that, with less competitive districts, GOP pols have more to fear from a challenge from their right than they do from a Dem candidate from the center or left - thus driving an increased polarization in their voting)
And here I thought the most important influence on how members vote is what the corporations who donate money to their campaigns want -- which means those corporations *are* their constituents.
How in the world is this an either/or proposition? Gerrymandering relieves them of the obligation of listening to their constituents by making their seats a sure thing, thus allowing them to serve the party, which will reward them by making sure they keep their seats so they can serve the party...
See how that works?
Sides does a lame job if he thinks that's debunking gerrymandering.
Is there some reason why there is no link?
By the way if you read what the professor wrote. Its not a very convincing debunking.
Wow! A gol durn perfesser just now figgered it out! How much does he get paid to study what everybody already knows?
It seems like it's a positive feedback loop problem. Gerrymandering makes their constituency narrow and unnatural, which (as Ty says) lets them vote party first. In turn, for being a good little foot soldier, the districts get entrenched (or even stranger) and the cycle continues. It's the same problem that shows itself when, despite Democrats totaling some 5M more votes than Reps in the House, the Reps have a majority. When districts get drawn by partisan committees/legislatures, democracy loses.
I'd love to see it done via computer programs. Each district must have a population of X, and follow natural geological borders, followed by main infrastructure arteries. Do a QC check to make sure no lines run through structures, or divide a region in a strange way, and voila. Districts, accomplished--no politics required.
Never fearing losing safe, gerrymandered seats LETS them vote Party before constituents.
“The most important influence on how members of Congress vote is not their constituents, but their party.”
— John Sides debunking in the Washington Post the oft-repeated refrain that gerrymandering is what is wrong with American politics today. Sides is an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University.
Even if gerrymandering was less important than party, is there any reason to think that it isn't an attack on democracy?
Democratic congress candidate took 1 million more votes than their republican counter-parts. Gerrymandering plays a significant role in determining who controls the house. That's the main reason I was so disappointed in the 2010 elections. I wanted us to bone the republicans. I am a partisan hack.
@sacredh Thanks had to do a mouse over to see that it was active.
Definitely WaPo. Time can at least pretend that they were quoting it ironically.