Saturday, August 13, 2005

 

RON: Why a redistricting change

The simplest reason for supporting the Reform Ohio Now amendment to end gerrymandering and turn district drawing over to an independent board is that nearly none of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate or Ohio Congressional races are competitive.

Consider these statistics about the margins of victory (MOV=winners % of vote - next largest vote getter) from the elections in 2004:
Ohio Senate (races 16 districts in 2004)
Districts with 10%>MOV - 1 (#20)
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 1 (#18)
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 6 (#2, 6, 8, 10, 16, 24)
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 5 (#4, 14, 38, 30, 32)
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 1 (#12)
Districts where winner was unopposed - 2 (#22, 26)
Average MOV - 38%
Thus, if we define a competitive race for the sake of simplicity as one there the MOV was less than 20%, then only 12.5% or 1 out of 8 races was competitive.
Ohio House (races in 99 districts in 2004)

Districts with 10%>MOV - 14
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 12
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 15
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 20
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 17
Districts where winner was unopposed - 22
Average MOV - 43%
Using the same definition of "competitive race" as above, 26% or about 1 out of 4 races was competitive. Although this is slightly better than in the Ohio Senate, the average MOV was much greater in the Ohio House races, in part because in nearly 1 out of 4 races the winner ran unopposed.
Ohio Congress (races in 18 districts in 2004)

Districts with 10%>MOV - 0
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 2 (#1, 4)
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 6 (#3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15)
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 6 (#5, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16)
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 0
Districts where winner was unopposed - 2 (#6, 11)
Average MOV - 39%
Thus, 11% or only 1 out of 9 congressional races was competitive.

Using a MOV to measure competitiveness clearly has its limitations. However, for those trying to get their arms around how big of a gerrymandering problem we have in Ohio, these statistics provide an initial entry point.

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