American Government and Politics

Do Redistricting Commissions Avoid Partisan Gerrymanders?

Robin Best Binghamton University
Steve Lem Kutztown University
Daniel Magleby Binghamton University
Michael McDonald
We ask how well did the commissions used in the 2010 round of redistricting for states with three of more congressional districts perform in avoiding partisan gerrymanders of congressional districts? We answer that question with applications to each of the three independent commissions (AZ, CA, and WA) and four other commission forms (IA, NJ, NY, and VA) in place for post-2010. We take as the neutrality criterion the idea that a commission would produce a district plan that comports with a partisan outcome that could be expected from a set of approximately 10,000 computer generated plans adhering to minimalist constraints of contiguity, compactness, and equal populations. Our results indicate three of seven commissions produced suspect results that redounded to the benefit of one party or the other: pro-Democrat in Arizona; pro-Republican in New Jersey and Virginia.