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Princeton Gerrymandering Project

Update - Feb. 4, 2021

In American politics, the legislative and congressional map is redrawn every 10 years. And the Princeton Gerrymandering Project can’t stop talking about it. Below, check out our latest appearances in the New York Times, Roll Call...and Teen Vogue!

Republicans need six seats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which Democrats now hold by a 222-212 margin. Reapportionment and aggressive partisan redistricting could close this gap, as explained by our experts this week in the New York Times:

I would say that the national vote could be the same as this year two years from now, and redistricting by itself would easily be enough to alter who controls the chamber,” said Samuel S. Wang, the director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

This possibility emphasizes the importance of fair districting. And in modern times, gerrymanders can stick for a whole decade:

“The Democrats were able to win the House in 2018 despite the fact that there were some very gerrymandered states,” said Jonathan Cervas, a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University who studies gerrymandering.

This year, redistricters and reformers will have extra time to get it right - but will also have to adapt. Last week, Roll Call reported on the delay of population counts to apportion the number of Congressional seats per state, and detailed redistricting data for line-drawing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that population counts will be delayed by four months to the end of April, and redistricting data may not arrive until the end of summer.

“There have been tests [of the system] before — some state[s] ha[ve] been late with their data. Certainly nothing like the systemic and widespread delay, for obvious reasons, that we’re seeing. That will be coming up and making so many state governments basically do improv,” said Jason Rhode, the national coordinator of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Finally, this week Project researcher Zachariah Sippy published a piece in Teen Vogue to explain how a host of issues, from racial justice to climate change to the economy to gun control, depends on the weird and technical process of redistricting. It’s great to see Zach engaging a new rising generation of young people in the fight to make government responsive. He reports:

Sam Wang, who directs the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, tells Teen Vogue that while “Texas has the potential to be terrible” given total GOP control there, high levels of citizen engagement could make a big difference in North Carolina and Ohio.

To talk with us in any area relating to redistricting, either nationally or in your state, write to us at gerrymander@princeton.edu.

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