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November 8, 2012 / needhamgrassroots

Why State Legislatures Matter: We Actually Voted for a DEMOCRATIC House in 2012

“In a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control almost 54% of the House.”

Guess what? Who you vote for in your state legislatures matters. A lot. Yet many don’t know who is running or representing them at the State Level. As organizers, activists, concerned citizens, we need to do better at raising awareness of the stakes and help voters be empowered and informed. In MA, the crucial moments are often/usually at the PRIMARY level.

from ThinkProgress Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.[…]

The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided.

That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.

There is a simple explanation for how this happened: Republicans won several key state legislatures and governors’ mansions in the election cycle before redistricting, and theygerrymandered those states within an inch of their lives. President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points, but Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats:

Similar stories played out elsewhere. Obama won Virginia, and Democrats took 3 of 11 House seats. Obama appears very likely to win Florida, but Democrats will, at best, carry 10 of the state’s 27 districts.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), however, cannot simply thank Republican state lawmakers for enabling him to keep his job. He can also thank the conservatives on the Supreme Court. Partisan gerrymandering exists for one purpose: to cut off the ability of people who disagree with a state’s ruling party to influence future elections. It is a a clear violation of the First Amendment, which absolutely prohibits viewpoint discrimination. Yet the Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility to end this discrimination in its 5-4 decision in Vieth v. Jubelirer, where the conservative justices tossed out a lawsuit alleging that Pennsylvania’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally drawn to maximize Republican representation in Congress.

Americans voted for a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and, barring significant shifts in the vote tally, a Democratic House. Instead, they will get a House majority similar to the one that held the entire nation hostage during last year’s debt ceiling hostage crisis. If the American people wanted this to happen, they would have said so at the polls on Tuesday. Instead, Republican state lawmakers took away their right to democratically legitimate leadership — with a big assist from the conservatives on the Supreme Court.

Why Americans Actually Voted For A Democratic House | ThinkProgress – http://bit.ly/UoS376

 

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Read also: Mother Jones – Why John Boehner Has Gerrymandering to Thank for His Majority (Nov 2012)

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