Pierce: How dumb do you think we are?
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) issued the statement below today in response to recent published remarks about redistricting made by State Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer:
State Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer's claim that Statehouse Republicans have not gerrymandered the new congressional and legislative districts begs one simple question. How dumb does he think Hoosiers are?
Every independent analysis of the new Republican maps show they are some of the most partisan maps in the country, giving House and Senate Republicans artificial supermajorities and a lopsided Indiana congressional delegation that don't reflect the will of the voters.
George Washington University Political Science Professor Christopher Warshaw's statistical analysis of the recently adopted Republican Indiana House map concluded “In the average election, they [House Republicans] would win 69% of the seats despite only winning 56% of the vote.” Warshaw also estimated Republicans are likely to win 7 out of the 9 congressional seats under the new maps. That is 77% of the seats despite only winning 56% of the vote. Republicans also snuffed-out emerging competition in the 5th congressional district by packing 5th district Democrats into Congressman Andre Carson's 7th district.
The redistricting bill's author testified in the House Elections and Apportionment Committee that the Republican's campaign arm, the House Republican Campaign Committee, participated in the map drawing. It's telling that the partisan organization charged with running Republican campaigns was in the middle of the map drawing process. And we can't know how many other political operatives were in the room because the map drawing process took place behind closed-doors out of public view.
Chairman Hupfer claims Republicans are winning these lopsided victories because Hoosiers just like Republican policies better than proposals from Democrats. If this is the case, why do they need to manipulate district boundaries? If Republicans truly believe they are winning on merit alone, they shouldn't care who draws the districts. Their actions reveal the truth.
During the past decade following the Republican's original gerrymander in 2011, they resisted efforts to establish a non-partisan redistricting process. They rejected a citizen commission like those functioning in many other states and a system used in Iowa where the legislature approves maps drawn by a non-partisan legislative agency without using political data.
It's no coincidence that at the same time computer power and big data have transformed gerrymandering from an inexact art to scientific precision our democratic institutions have struggled to address the real needs of Hoosiers. With legislators and members of Congress in districts overwhelmingly favoring their own party, general elections are now a formality.
Primary elections now determine who serves in office. That puts the electoral power in the hands of the most partisan and ideological party members who oppose compromise and hinder bipartisan cooperation. Gerrymandering is eroding our democratic system.
While this year's battle for fair maps may have been lost, the effort to enact a non-partisan redistricting process must continue. Voters must choose elected officials who will end business as usual and support fair maps. The time for action is now.