時間: 2011年1月8日 周六 10:00-12:00
David Hung (美國)
Redistricting Looms Large in Congress* (詳下文)
(紐約時報 對了它的旅游報導 "重慶"Lost in Chongqing , China )
2010年12月25日 與 Ken 談些日本的獨特的防止安全手法
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Ken Su 的齋明寺訪櫻
一周來的胡適的世界 可以交差: 錢復回憶錄中的胡適
Redistricting Looms Large in Congress
By MICHAEL COOPER and SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: December 24, 2010
The political jockeying over how to draw new Congressional districts began in earnest this week after new census data showed almost a dozen seats shifting to the South and West, leaving Republicans poised to build on their gains from November’s midterm elections and forcing several northern Democratic incumbents to begin plotting to save their jobs.
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images
The biggest immediate danger to incumbent Democrats will be in the Rust Belt, where Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio are all losing Congressional seats and Republicans now control the state governments, giving them the power to draw the new political maps. Politicians liken this process to a game of musical chairs, wondering who will be left without a seat. With Ohio losing two seats, political analysts expect the Republicans to eliminate a Democratic seat from the Cleveland area — possibly the one now held by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich.
“My Aunt Betty called me after the news report, and she says, ‘Dennis, what are we going to do — are they putting you out of Congress?’ ” Mr. Kucinich said in an interview, explaining that he would try not to worry about it right now, since it is beyond his control. But he added that “the fundamental rule of politics is you have to have a district to run.”
Republicans, meanwhile, are preparing for the more enviable task of drawing up new Congressional districts in states where they are strong. Their victories in statehouse elections gave them control of redistricting in five of the eight states that are gaining seats, including the two biggest winners, Texas, which is adding four, and Florida, which is adding two.
That has made Don Gaetz, the chairman of the Florida State Senate’s Reapportionment Committee, a popular man. There was the friendly hug he got from a member of Congress, who offered that his district’s current lines were just fine, and the ambitious fellow lawmaker who sidled up to him at a meeting, saying that he had a great idea for a possible district.
“I’m just a lowly state senator from the panhandle of Florida, but I have all sorts of new friends,” Mr. Gaetz marveled. “Members of Congress who didn’t know I existed, and people who would like to be in Congress who I didn’t know existed.”
The next step comes in February, when the Census Bureau will begin releasing detailed local demographic data, allowing the actual redrawing of districts to begin. In states losing Democratic seats, this will be the moment party elders start asking veteran lawmakers if they might like to retire, and younger lawmakers if they might want to seek other offices or accept comfortable positions somewhere else. This will also be the moment that tenacious Democrats quietly commission polls to see how they might fare against their ostensible Democratic allies.
Some of this is already beginning to play out in Massachusetts, where the all-Democratic House delegation will shrink to 9 seats from 10. Even before the demographic data, which will give officials a better idea of which districts might be merged, is in, there is talk of trying to get a member to run for the seat of Senator Scott P. Brown, a Republican.
Republicans also stand to gain ground in states that are not adding or losing seats, thanks to their victories in state elections this year. When Republicans won control of both houses of the North Carolina legislature in November for the first time since Reconstruction, they also gained control of the redistricting process. By state law they will draw the maps, and the Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, will have no veto over them. Some Republican lawmakers there believe they can draw lines that would allow them to pick up at least two seats.
The most likely immediate impact of the coming redistricting, political analysts said, is that Republicans will be able to use their new power in the nation’s statehouses and governor’s mansions to draw new districts that will help the party strengthen its hold on the 63 seats in Congress that it picked up in November. When the new data comes in, both parties will use sophisticated computer software to begin carving up districts through politically creative cartography. But Republicans will have the upper hand, giving them the opportunity to add Republican voters to many districts where the party’s candidates won by narrow margins this year, making it easier for them to be re-elected.
“The Republicans are going to have their hand on the computer mouse, and when you have your hand on the computer mouse, you can change a district from a D to an R,” said Kimball W. Brace, president of Election Data Services, who has worked on redistricting for state legislatures and commissions.
Redistricting, it is often said, turns the idea of democracy on its head by allowing leaders to choose their voters, instead of the other way around. The new lines are drawn once a decade, after every census, to make sure that all Congressional districts have roughly the same number of people, to preserve the one-person, one-vote standard. But as a practical matter, both Democrats and Republicans often use it as an excuse to gerrymander districts for their own political advantage. This time, Republicans are better positioned to do it.
Tim Storey, an expert on redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that Republicans were in their strongest position to draw lines in decades. Of the districts drawn by state legislatures, he said, Republicans have the power to unilaterally draw 196, four times as many as the Democrats. A decade ago, he said, Democrats had the advantage.
Texas will test the hopes of both parties. Democrats said that since much of the population growth was among minorities that traditionally support Democrats, they should benefit when Texas’s four new Congressional districts are drawn. Republicans, who control the process, said that much of the growth took place in Republican areas, so they will be able to draw more Republican seats. Tension lingers from the state’s redistricting in 2003, when Representative Tom DeLay, then the House majority leader, helped Republicans gain a large advantage in Texas’ House delegation.
Martin Frost, a former Democratic congressman whose district in the Fort Worth area was split during that redistricting, said he thought the Democrats would have a good chance of getting two of the four new seats, especially given the federal Voting Rights Act, which is supposed to ensure that the new lines do not dilute the voting power of minorities. And he said that the first order of business for Republicans would likely be to consolidate the gains they have made in recent elections by strengthening the districts of the party’s incumbents.
But Representative Joe L. Barton, a senior Republican from Texas who has been involved in redistricting for years, said that most Republican officeholders in Texas needed little help. He speculated that three of the four new seats would go to Republicans. “We, the Republicans, don’t feel we have to do anything radically partisan, primarily because the current map basically reflects the demographics of the state,” he said. “But if we’re going to have a fight, I’m glad I’ve got an R by my name.”
Of the 10 states losing seats, Democrats will draw the maps in only two: Massachusetts, where a Democrat will of necessity lose a seat, and Illinois, where they will try to eliminate a Republican seat. New York is losing two Congressional seats, and since the Democrats just lost control of the State Senate, they will have to come up with a compromise plan. In the past, that has meant eliminating one seat in each party; now, some lawmakers are pushing to create an independent redistricting commission.
Both parties also have experienced lawyers working on their redistricting efforts, since the courts will inevitably play a big role in the end. The Voting Rights Act limits how districts can be drawn in many states. Republicans have turned it to their advantage in the past, by packing so many Democratic voters into some minority districts that their power was diluted in neighboring districts. And where new lines are drawn, court challenges often follow.
Political analysts said that Republicans were poised to add anywhere from a net of 3 to a net of 15 Republican-leaning seats. But they note that the impact can be short-lived.
In times of upheaval, said Michael Barone, who covers redistricting exhaustively as a co-author of “The Almanac of American Politics,” it can be hard to predict how voters in some districts will behave. “When opinion changes,” he said, “it turns out some of those 53-percent districts aren’t yours anymore.”