The country’s worst gerrymander is arguably in Illinois, as it sparked a high-stakes musical chair game among the five members of the state’s Republican House of Representatives.
Nathaniel Rakich:One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was a Republican from Illinois. But the state’s new, rigged congressional map seems intent on turning Illinois Republican congressmen into an endangered species.
There are currently five Republicans in the US House of Representatives delegation in Illinois. But that was apparently too much for the Democrats responsible for last fall’s Illinois reallocation. They drew a map that packed all five Republicans into just three congressional districts.
This began a high-stakes game for musical choice chairs. First it was Congressman Mike Bost and Congresswoman Mary Miller thrown together to the 12th District while Congressman was Rodney Davis alone in the 15th district. But the rightmost Miller apparently decided she had a better chance of staying in Congress if she ran for re-election on the 15th against Davis, who is more moderate. Meanwhile, over in the 16th district were Congressmen Darin LaHood and Adam Kinzinger double storeya situation that was only solved at Kinzinger decided against re-election.
As a result, Democrats could hold 14 of Illinois’ 17 congressional seats after the 2022 election. That’s 82 percent of the seats, though they’re likely to win less than 60 percent of the state’s popular vote. That’s only possible because so many Republican votes are “wasted” under the new map — either because they’re being cast in a district that’s already safely red, or because they’re outnumbered by the Democratic votes. In any case, these votes do not count towards a win.
Based on the results of the 2020 presidential election, this map squanders 1.9 million Republican votes. That’s almost double the number of Democratic votes wasted under the map.
In theory, if Republicans and Democrats had the same number of votes given away in Illinois, Republicans would win 2.2 more congressional seats than under a Gerrymander of this caliber. By that measure, Illinois is the country’s worst Gerrymander drawn by the Democrats.
Illinois’ aggressive Gerrymander is a big part of why Democrats won seats this year through statewide redistribution of electoral districts. But it could also backfire. To draw so many blue seats, Democrats had to spread their voters thinly, leaving some districts with little Democratic bias. If Republicans have a strong election in 2022, they could end up winning not only their three safe red seats, but those light blue seats as well. This Gerrymander could be the biggest mistake in Illinois since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over that lantern.
Certainly, this card will most likely help the Democrats in their quest to hold the House of Representatives. But it’s also possible that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.