Ohio’s Gerrymandered Map Withstood a Blue Wave Exactly as Planned

November 20, 2018 by TWN Staff

Despite being swept in the statewide races in Ohio, Democrats nearly matched Republican votes in state legislative races but will remain in a deep minority in both houses. According to The Plain Dealer, the GOP won 73 of the 116 statehouse races, 64 percent, despite winning just 50 percent of the popular vote. These victories will guarantee they retain supermajorities in both houses and will be able to effectively shut Democrats out of the state government.

This disparity between the popular vote and seats highlights how well Republicans were able to gerrymander legislative seats after the 2010 election using sophisticated software and voter files. This software, dubbed REDMAP, was deployed in the mapmaking process in states dominated by Republicans following the 2010 election, including Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Gerrymandering follows some pretty simple rules. The two main techniques are “packing” and “cracking.” Packing involves jamming as many of your opponents’ supporters as possible into throwaway districts. Cracking involves drawing boundary lines through communities of interest and opposition groups, thereby diluting their vote to effectuate narrow wins. Techniques like these can be used to create durable districts that can withstand wave elections. The Washington Post has a good explainer on this process and created a compelling graphic to demonstrate its anti-democratic effects.

In the 2018 election, the districts worked exactly as planned in Ohio. According to Cleveland.com and unofficial results, Republicans received 50.3 percent of the votes statewide in the 116 races – 3,165,811 to 3,098,015 over the Democrats. Another 26,432 votes went to other candidates.

Half of Ohio’s Senate seats were on the ballot. Republicans won 65 percent of the seats (11 of 17) with just 48 percent of the statewide vote.

All 99 Ohio House seats are on the ballot every two years. In Ohio House races, the Republicans won 63 percent of the seats (62 of 99) with 52 percent of the vote.

 

Combined results for all Ohio House and Senate races. Source: Ohio Secretary of State (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

 

These results are enough to give Republicans a supermajority in the House and Senate, despite Democrats picking up a few seats. Even if Richard Cordray had beaten Mike DeWine in the race for Governor, he would have had no say in the next round of mapmaking.

Gerrymandering is a nefarious political tool that undermines people’s faith in democracy and their elected officials by diluting their vote. It also is not just a tool of the Republicans, as both parties have engaged in these tactics for decades. But with the advent of sophisticated computerized software, gerrymandering is becoming much more precise and durable in its effects. As both parties race for control, the technological arms race has begun.

You can read the first piece in our redistricting series here.

Spotlight

Hoyer: 'Senate Has a Responsibility to Act,' After House Democrats Pass 10 Spending Bills Federal Budget
Hoyer: 'Senate Has a Responsibility to Act,' After House Democrats Pass 10 Spending Bills
June 28, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - As they head back to their districts for the week-long July 4 district work period, House Democrats have reason to feel proud and maybe, just a little bit tired. For the first time in 13 years, the House has passed 10 appropriations bills before... Read More

News Media Alliance Seeks Anti-Trust Exemption to Battle Tech Giants Media
News Media Alliance Seeks Anti-Trust Exemption to Battle Tech Giants
June 14, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - A House panel began its inquiry into the largely unchecked power of the nation's largest technology and social media firms Tuesday by focusing on the role the companies have played in reducing the news media to a mere shadow of its former self. "This... Read More

America’s Broadband Mapping Crisis and How to Fix It Rural
America’s Broadband Mapping Crisis and How to Fix It
June 11, 2019
by Sean Trambley

The Federal Communications Commission and Congress have long sought to map specific regions’ access to broadband services in order to help policymakers identify unserved areas. The Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019, introduced last week in the House of Representatives by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.,... Read More

George Washington to Citizens United: A History of Campaign Finance Reform Campaign Finance
George Washington to Citizens United: A History of Campaign Finance Reform
May 21, 2019
by Dan McCue

From the very beginning of the Republic, campaign finance has been a hard subject to discuss in polite company. In a capitalist society, things, including access to whatever serves as the public megaphone of the era, simply cost money. And in a Democracy where almost everyone,... Read More

Q&A with Republican Study Committee Chair, Rep. Mike Johnson Spotlight
Q&A with Republican Study Committee Chair, Rep. Mike Johnson
May 17, 2019
by TWN Staff

What is your primary objective for the Caucus during the 116th Congress? Throughout its history, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) has been referred to as the “intellectual arsenal” of conservatism in the House, and it serves a number of important functions. We are the largest caucus... Read More

Citing Threats to National Security, Three Women in Congress Take Climate Change Head On National Security
Citing Threats to National Security, Three Women in Congress Take Climate Change Head On
May 3, 2019
by Dan McCue

Three newly elected Democratic members of Congress, all of them women and all with backgrounds in either law enforcement or the armed forces, are concerned that climate change impacts are harming military readiness at the same time they are increasing global instability. The tie that binds... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top