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Why Democrats Need 11-Point Margin to Take House in 2018

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 15:16

From a Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law press release:

With a solid lead in national polls and a string of special election victories, Democrats are optimistic about their chances of winning control of the House this fall. But a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law shows that the impact of extreme gerrymandering could severely hamper those efforts. Democrats would need a near-record 11-point national margin or a series of extraordinary breaks to win the narrowest of majorities in the chamber.

Extreme Gerrymandering and the 2018 Midterms is the first comprehensive study of the overall electoral impact of this decade’s politically skewed congressional maps. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the legality of extreme partisan gerrymandering this term — Wednesday, justices will hear a case on a map that favors Democrats in Maryland — but any rulings will likely come too late to impact the 2018 elections. State-by-state, the new Brennan Center report shows how extreme maps this cycle could hobble Democrats’ ambitions and impact our democracy.

“Because of partisan gerrymandering, one of the most pivotal midterm elections in recent memory could see many Americans’ votes simply be for naught,” said Michael Li, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and a co-author of the report. “New technology is making gerrymandering ever more sophisticated — districts can be locked in for one party through good and bad election cycles alike, without voters ever having a meaningful choice. If the Supreme Court doesn’t act, we’ll likely see even more unfair maps next decade.”

This fall, elections in several swing states key to Democrats’ electoral ambitions could be especially impacted by heavily gerrymandered maps:

  • In Michigan, Democrats can win five of 14 seats with around 38.38 percent of the statewide vote, but the Brennan Center projects the party is unlikely to compete for a sixth seat until their statewide vote share reaches 54.89 percent, an increase of 16.51 percentage points and a level that Democrats have reached only once in the last six elections.
  • In North Carolina, Democrats pick up three of 10 seats with 29.66 percent of the statewide vote, but the Brennan Center projects they will be unable to compete for a fourth seat until their statewide vote share reaches 52.75 percent, an increase 23.1 percentage points and a level they reached in the last six elections only in the 2008 Obama wave election.
  • In Ohio, Democrats win four of 16 seats with around 26.07 percent of the statewide vote, but the Brennan Center analysis shows they do not compete for a fifth seat until their statewide vote share reaches 54.71 percent, an increase of 28.64 percentage points and a level they have not managed to reach in any of the last six elections.

Extreme Gerrymandering and the 2018 Midterms measures what’s known as responsiveness in congressional maps – the link between gaining votes and picking up congressional seats. States with maps drawn by independent commissions or courts, like California, are highly responsive to voters. The worst gerrymanders appear in states where maps were drawn under single-party control to lock in a party’s stranglehold on power.

“Our report reveals the incredible gap between shifts in voter preferences and likely election outcomes,” said Laura Royden, researcher in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and report co-author. “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you should be outraged that our democracy is distorted by maps that are intentionally designed to undermine a fair vote.”

Read the full report, Extreme Gerrymandering and the 2018 Midterms.

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on Redistricting.

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Furious Russians March Demanding Siberian Mall Fire Answers

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:14

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to harshly punish those responsible for what he called criminal negligence in a fire Sunday at a Siberian mall that killed 64 people, many of them children. The newly re-elected president made the promise Tuesday after flying to the scene of the fire in the industrial city of Kemerovo. Putin laid…

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Prominent Ethiopian Dissidents Re-Arrested in Crackdown

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:09

Police in Ethiopia have arrested several prominent dissidents, some of whom were released from prison just weeks earlier. Journalist Eskinder Nega, blogger Befekadu Hailu and opposition politician Andualem Arage were among those detained Sunday, according to lawyer Ameha Mekonnen. Mekonnen, who has represented some of the detainees in the past, said the arrests occurred at a…

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California suing to block 2020 Census citizenship question

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:07

(National Sentinel) Immigration Deformed: Officials with the state of California, along with former Attorney General Eric Holder, say they plan to file suit against the Trump administration over the president’s intention to reinstate a citizenship question into the 2020 Census. In addition to Holder, who was President Obama’s first AG, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced…

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White House Investigating Jared Kushner Over Shady Loans

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:04

Jared Kushner is now being investigated by a fourth body, but this one is a little more close to home for the President’s son-in-law. The White House itself is now investigating $500 million worth of loans that Kushner’s business received shortly after meeting with executives from the banking industry in the White House. Ring of Fire’s…

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The dismal failure of efforts to empower the Arab people

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:38

By Janine A. Clark, Professor of Political Science, University of Guelph. Protestors stand behind burning barricades during clashes with riot police near the Tunisian capital of Tunis in January 2018. Violent protests over price hikes raised fears of broader unrest in the country that was the birthplace of the Arab Spring. (AP Photo/Amine Landoulsi) The protests…

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Anti-Fake News Bill Sparks Malaysian Censorship Fears

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:23

The Malaysian government proposed a bill imposing hefty fines and jail sentences on those found guilty of willfully publishing fake news on Monday. The bill targets “fake news” defined as any form of written, audio or visual publication “wholly or partly false,” concerning Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen published by anyone, anywhere. The law would punish…

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Brazil appeals court to rule on Lula’s latest challenge

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:21

A Brazilian appeals court was set Monday to rule on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s latest attempt to stay out of prison and maintain his slender hopes of a political comeback. The appeal is on technical issues related to the same court’s earlier upholding of Lula’s conviction on corruption. The court, in Porto Alegre,…

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Police make arrest over Indian journalist’s killing by mafia

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:15
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Amid growing outrage over the latest murder of a journalist in India, police have arrested a truck driver accused of killing Sandeep Sharma over his investigative reporting into the country’s ‘sand mafia’. The television journalist was mown down by a truck as he rode a motorcycle on Monday — the second hit and run killing of…

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A look at the politics of the newest Judas Priest album: Firepower

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:10
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More than four decades after releasing their debut album, Rocka Rolla, Judas Priest have not grown soft. Firepower, the band’s 18th studio album, released March 9, is a ferocious slab of heavy metal. It’s also a more diverse and dynamic outing than Priest’s previous release, 2014’s Redeemer of Souls. A major reason for that is lead…

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Worries follow announcement of new census citizenship question

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 11:49

The US government announced Monday that it would reintroduce a question about citizenship status in the questionnaire for the 2020 census. This is a very sensitive issue in the era of President Donald Trump, who has made cracking down on legal and illegal immigration one of his hallmarks. The Commerce Department, which oversees the census, said…

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