The election is weeks away, but a new report from the non-partisan Center for Voting & Democracy picks the winners in every congressional race. In the past, their accuracy has been astounding.
In 1997, 18 months prior to the ’98 elections, leaders of the Center predicted 340 congressional races with incumbents and 21 open seats where there was no incumbent. The results? They were right in 339 out of the 340 incumbent races, or 99.7 percent. In open seats it wasn’t quite as easy, but they were right in 19 out of 21, or 90 percent.
How do they do it? They look at the breakdown of voters by party affiliation. You see, one of the most serious problems we face in creating a competitive electoral system is gerrymandering. This is the process whereby state legislatures draw the political boundaries. It allows politicians to pick their voters before voters can choose them. Add to that the awesome power of incumbency, which scares off competition, and you can see this is not exactly crystal-ball gazing.
The courts have struck down districts drawn to get a certain racial outcome, but have turned a blind eye to districts that arbitrarily favor one party over another. The solution to incumbents monopolizing our elections is term limits. But another key factor in promoting democracy is to stop the politicians from drawing rigged districts that squelch competition.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.