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Will Virginia legislators put teeth in redistricting reform?

February 3rd, 2020, 6:18am by Aaron Barden


In 1789, Virginia was the site of the first gerrymander – even before the word “gerrymander” was coined. Now the Virginia General Assembly has a chance to take a big step toward doing away with gerrymanders entirely. Whether they do depends some complex negotiations taking place this week. Based on the Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s detailed look at all the bills, those negotiations have the potential to turn out very well indeed. [Read more →]

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Close races taking shape in 2020: Senate control in play?

January 16th, 2020, 8:16pm by Sam Wang


Graphed by Ben Rosenblatt, here are the top 10 most-popular and bottom 10 least-popular Senators, as measured by Morning Consult. Notably, five of the bottom six are up for re-election this November – and all are Republicans.

These five races would seem to present some ripe opportunities – potentially enough to switch control of the chamber. Democrats need to pick up a net three seats – that’s assuming they win the Presidency. If they don’t win the Presidency, there’s no way they will pick up seats, since Presidential and Senate voting are so correlated these days. Since Doug Jones (D-AL) has a tough slog, probably they need to pick up four.

As the campaign heats up, I’ll do what I’ve done in previous years: point out close races where your efforts make the greatest marginal difference. We’ll do Senate and House races. We’ll also expand to state legislative races. Democrats and Republicans will be fighting it out in close states, including Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, and more. The opportunites are the same for both sides, since knife-edge races are the ones where your effort makes the most difference.

Stay tuned!

→ 3 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Senate

The Hofeller documents

January 13th, 2020, 3:23pm by Hope Johnson


All 33,261 of Thomas Hofeller’s documents were made available online last week. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is taking a close look at the files for lessons on what to do, what not to do, and what’s needed for expert districting, both fair and otherwise. The original archive has been taken down, and alternative mirrors are available at the following links:

Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/hofellerfiles
The Syndicate Project: https://archive.syndicate.si/hofeller/
Google Drive (uploaded by Twitter user @FormerlyZeus): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10rgX7NlXGRzytyWWLRv3ly0ZGNZsbiZ0
Academic Torrents: http://academictorrents.com/details/30e27c1d63e8ee36d42457e700e4c1a268718885

Are you looking too? We’re especially interested in AI-driven indexing. Email redistricting@princeton.edu to get in touch!

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Will Democrats keep their reform promise in Virginia?

January 2nd, 2020, 10:36am by Sam Wang


Last year in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass redistricting reform. Now they have to pass it again. But some Democrats appear to be waffling. Today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I argue for a way forward. Read on! Also, read our Voter’s Guide To Redistricting Reform in Virginia.

Comments Off on Will Democrats keep their reform promise in Virginia?Tags: Redistricting

Princeton Gerrymandering Project – 2019, in Review

December 31st, 2019, 9:46am by Sam Wang


The Princeton Gerrymandering ProjectWhat a year (and what a decade) it was for gerrymandering. It was also a pivotal year for the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, as we adapted to the next stage of redistricting reform. Even as we have grown, we’re still using law, math, and data to help power change. But we have now made our focus local, with a state-by-state approach to fair districting. 

In an engineering sense, gerrymandering is a feedback loop in which legislators draw themselves into power for a decade – which they can do again and again. I’m more optimistic than I have been in years that we can address the problem. Here’s how my team at Princeton is providing tools to help break the feedback loop.

[Read more →]

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What North Carolina’s redistricting cases suggest for 2021 strategy

December 8th, 2019, 10:57pm by Sam Wang


Like many of you, I followed the North Carolina redistricting court cases of the last two months with great attention. I would characterize them as partial successes – but with important lessons for the future. [Read more →]

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Lessons from 2016 and application to 2020

November 24th, 2019, 2:23pm by Sam Wang


For his piece on polling in the New York Times, Giovanni Russonello contacted me with questions about what went wrong in my 2016 analysis. Our starting point: my Election Eve estimate that Hillary Clinton’s Meta-Margin of +1.1% led to a 93% probability.

The simple answer is that I underestimated the minimum uncertainty in state polls, at less than 1.0 percentage point. This was a holdover from the calculation script, which I set up in May 2016 and neglected to revisit.  By the time October rolled around it seemed inappropriate to change it suddenly.

My email to him is reproduced, with slight edits, after the jump. [Read more →]

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California Redistricting Comes to Princeton

November 12th, 2019, 4:37pm by Sam Wang


This Thursday, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project is co-hosting a town hall, “Ending Gerrymandering with People-Powered Reforms.” We’ll have feature three members of California’s first independent, citizen-led Redistricting Commission. We’ll meet in McCosh Hall, Room 28, from 4 to 5 PM.

Our co-hosts are New Jersey’s League of Women Voters and Fair Districts NJ. Helen Kioukis of Fair Districts NJ told us: “As we continue advocating for state-level redistricting reform and fair maps for New Jersey residents, we are excited for the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the California Commissioners and encourage public engagement in the redistricting process.”

Over a two-day period, the Commissioners are traveling across New Jersey to discuss the importance of community-centric redistricting reform and share their experiences as ordinary residents selected to draw California’s new district maps. The Princeton town hall is a crucial stop in the California tour.

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What’s at stake next week in Virginia: Redistricting Reform

October 26th, 2019, 12:41pm by Sam Wang


Virginia was the site of the first gerrymander in 1789. Now, Virginia voters get a chance to help make today’s maps the last gerrymander that the Old Dominion ever sees. Before next week’s elections, ask candidates to support reform. To help, Princeton Gerrymandering Project has a new report.

PGP’s new report describes how gerrymandering can be stopped by an amendment to the state constitution. The next step is for the General Assembly to pass it (for a second time) in January 2020. Then, if voters approve it in November 2020, it would lead to the formation of a Virginia Redistricting Commission that would give citizens a seat at the table for redistricting in 2021 and beyond.

Virginian can weigh in with their legislators to let them know how important reform is. They should also pass enabling legislation to help the commission succeed – by making sure it represents diverse interests in the state and by setting rules that will make sure all communities are treated fairly.

We hope you find this report helpful. Use it to inform your neghbors and legislative candidates!

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Harvard Law School panel on Electoral College

October 19th, 2019, 9:11am by Sam Wang


Great conference today on the Electoral College, hosted by the Harvard Law and Policy Review. An all-star cast – see the schedule! Also livecast here.

My slides are available in PDF format here. Some of my marginal notes here.

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