Daily Bread for 12.14.22: Wisconsin’s Gerrymandering

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 42. Sunrise is 7:18 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 03m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 66.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1911, Roald Amundsen‘s team, comprising himself, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, becomes the first to reach the South Pole.

Matthew DeFour writes Wisconsin’s Assembly maps are more skewed than ever. What happens now?:

In the latest round of redistricting, in which rulings from the conservative state and U.S. supreme courts allowed Republican legislative maps to prevail over objections from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s Assembly skew only got worse.

That’s according to the “efficiency gap,” one of the measurements political scientists have developed to illustrate partisan gerrymandering. The efficiency gap measures how many votes are “wasted” — having no chance to affect the outcome — when one party’s voters are either packed into lopsided districts (Think of Dane County where almost 80 percent voted for Evers), while others are broken up, or cracked, into districts where the margins are closer, but the party drawing the maps is almost guaranteed to win.


One way to illustrate what packing and cracking in Wisconsin looks like: In the 10 closest Assembly races that Republicans won this year, the average margin was 7.5 points. In the 10 closest for Democrats it was 15.2 points. Wisconsin Watch didn’t analyze the Senate, where Republicans will control 21 of 33 seats with one vacancy in January, because only half of the seats were up for election this year with the rest up in 2024.

The Wisconsin Assembly’s efficiency gap under the 2011 maps was 11 percent, according to PlanScore, a nonprofit that tracks district fairness, where [associate professor of political science at George Washington University Chris] Warshaw is one of the principals.

PlanScore has yet to rate the 2022 results. But using the efficiency gap formula provided by Warshaw and the 2022 vote totals, Wisconsin Watch estimated the latest Assembly election results had an efficiency gap of about 17 percent favoring Republicans.

While the numbers can be useful to compare states, they essentially confirm an obvious problem: Wisconsin is nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans — Evers won 51 percent to 48 percent — yet Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the legislative seats.

“This is not normal,” Warshaw said. “In all of American history we don’t observe many cases like this.”

There is, in April 2023, a contest for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, with the winner to take a place on the high court bench in August 2023. 

Inertia would hold, however, that an object at rest tends to remain at rest (as an object in uniform motion tends to remain in uniform motion). 

Another decade of the same is the mostly likely outcome. 

What Happens to the Migrant Workers Who Built the World Cup?:

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