Winter in Whitewater begins on a mostly cloudy day with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:24 PM for 9h 01m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 95.1% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.
When the state Supreme Court ruled last month that Wisconsin’s new legislative lines would have to look a lot like the old lines, it all but ensured Republican control of the Legislature for another decade.
The only partisan question that remains — and it’s an important one — is how big that GOP advantage will be.
The court now has before it a GOP plan passed by the Legislature under which 62 or 63 of 99 Assembly seats would lean Republican in their makeup.
And it has before it a handful of plans offered by Democrats, progressives and others under which 55 to 60 Assembly seats would lean Republican.
In other words, even the Democratic plans before the court are very, very favorable to Republican control of the Legislature over the next 10 years.
But those plans are not quite as tilted toward the GOP and feature a higher number of competitive districts, which are scarce under the Republican plan.
Here are some takeaways about where things stand in a very consequential redistricting fight in Wisconsin, presented here in a question-and-answer format:
Wisconsin is a 50-50 state politically. So why do even the Democrats’ plans give Republicans a large edge in the struggle for control of the Legislature?
There are two reason for this. The first involves geography. Democratic voters are more concentrated in urban areas, meaning their voting power is more concentrated in fewer districts. Republicans are more efficiently distributed across the state. This means that under any Wisconsin plan that follows traditional redistricting standards such as compactness, more than half the legislative districts are going to lean Republican in their makeup. The urban-rural partisan divide gives the GOP a “natural” edge in the state’s legislative and congressional maps.
The second reason is that the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled 4-3 last month that it would only accept a redistricting plan that minimized changes to the current districts (which do have to be changed to make sure that after 10 years of population shifts, they have equal numbers of people). The court’s liberal minority dissented from that view.
The political effect of the ruling was to make the current map the template and baseline for the new lines. And that map was adopted in 2011 by a Republican governor and Legislature to maximize the number of GOP seats. The current lines drawn 10 years ago go beyond the “natural” Republican advantage discussed above to achieve an even bigger partisan tilt, guaranteeing one-sided GOP control of both chambers under almost all election scenarios.
How big will the advantage in the WISGOP gerrymandered maps be? Real big.