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Title: Exploring Gerrymandering through Electoral Uncertainty and Competing Norms of Representation
Authors: Goedert, Nicholas Michael
Advisors: Canes-Wrone, Brandice
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Congress
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Current public debate about legislative redistricting in the United States most commonly champions reforms toward nonpartisan commissions as promoting competition and balance, while assailing partisan gerrymanders as ossifying incumbents, often adverse to the will of the voters. This dissertation challenges this conventional wisdom along several dimensions using a simulation model and empirical evidence from survey data and four decades of congressional election results. The dissertation is broadly divided into three parts, each of which employs the simulation model, detailed in Chapter 2, accompanied by empirical evidence. The first part, comprising Chapter 3, tests the effects of interacting redistricting institutions with national partisan tides (i.e. wave elections) on party composition and turnover in Congress. The middle section, comprising Chapter 4 and an addendum to Chapter 5, alters the model to fit the legal requirements under the Voting Rights Act to create majority-minority districts, first with respect to tides, and then with respect to voter welfare of minority voters. The last part, comprising Chapters 5 and 6, tests the effects of these institutions, also interacted with tides and party polarization, on different measures of democratic representation or voter welfare. Supported by both the model and evidence, the dissertation finds that maps drawn by nonpartisan institutions do yield closer election contests and greater sensitivity to tides. And while nonpartisan maps often succeed in electing a median delegation member responsive to tides, they perform extremely poorly in electing individual members that personally represent the voters in their own constituencies. On the other hand, aggressive partisan maps, while biased in favor of the gerrymandering party when tides are neutral, are very responsive to tides adverse to the gerrymandering party, both with respect to competitiveness and turnover. Additionally, aggressive partisan maps elect delegations that perform moderately well on three out of four measures of voter welfare. They perform badly on the fourth measure, policy median welfare, when tides are low, but can achieve the best results among all maps under strong tides in both directions. The dissertation also provides additional insight into the effects of majority- minority districting on partisan composition and voter welfare, and also the effects of increased party polarization.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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