THE REAL WAY THE 2016 ELECTION IS RIGGED

Aug 23, 2016 by

Democracy & Government

Despite what the media tells you, the Democrats will not take the House in November. Here’s why.

The U.S. House of Representatives chamber is seen December 8, 2008 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton has put the Electoral College into checkmate. She’s closer to Donald Trump in many red states like Kansas and Texas than he is to her in key swing states.

As her lead swells, naturally, fired-up Democrats and a restless media have turned their attention to a more exciting story: Can Democrats retake the House of Representatives? But the outcome there is not really in doubt, either.

It’s not going to happen. Democratic House candidates will likely get many more votes than Republican ones – as they did in 2012, when Democrats received 1.4 million more votes nationwide, but Republicans maintained a 234-201 advantage. Indeed, Trump is more likely to rebound in swing states than Democrats are to capture the 30 congressional seats they need to pry the speaker’s gavel from Paul Ryan.

Even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in a landslide, there are simply not enough competitive districts remaining to give the Democrats any chance at winning the House.

The reason why is simple, structural and too often absent from the conversation: It’s the radical GOP gerrymander imposed after the 2010 census on purplish states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina – all of which are likely to go for Clinton, while also electing a bright-red Republican delegation to Congress. Even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in a landslide, there are simply not enough competitive districts remaining to give the Democrats any chance at winning the House.

For all of the misleading nonsense about “rigged elections” coming from the Trump camp this summer, we haven’t talked enough about the way our electoral map really was rigged by Republicans after the 2010 census. These tilted maps make it possible for the Republicans to govern with a supermajority in Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin – despite getting less votes overall. And they’ve created a firewall in the House of Representatives that’s built to withstand a Clinton landslide upward of 10 percent.

Democrats, however, prefer to raise false hopes — and raise money — by pretending the House is in play. The media, desperate for any suspenseful narrative, pretends that gerrymandering is politics as usual and that both sides do it — stubbornly refusing to understand how the brazen and technologically savvy 2011 remapping was different from any other in modern political history. The New York Times, earlier this month in a story headlined “How House Republicans May Survive Donald Trump,” cast this in a bizarrely passive voice – “House Republicans have strong defenses in the congressional district boundaries, which set the terms of competition” – without mentioning how Republicans drew most of these lines themselves.

Then on Friday, the Times continued to fuel the debate with a Page One story with the opposite headline – “Republicans Worry a Falling Donald Trump Tide Will Lower All Boats” – had the same view from nowhere. It observed that “so many districts are drawn to make them uncompetitive in general election,” as if they were drawn by magic or drew themselves, never bothering to note who drew them that way, and the multimillion dollar GOP project to ensure some 400 of 435 House elections were uncompetitive. (It also quotes Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent, wringing his hands. “We have to be concerned,” said the Republican congressman whose new can’t-lose district shed Democratic towns after 2011 and took on the shape of a bad toupee in a windstorm. “I don’t think you can assume anybody is safe.” But that Dent himself is unbeatable goes without saying in the Times piece. His “chopped-up mess” of a district in the words of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, is so GOP-friendly that no Democrat would oppose him in 2014.)

The New York Times has managed the amazing trick of writing multiple stories across months about the likelihood of a Democratic House takeover without even using the word “gerrymander.”

Instead, these stories, and others like them, tell anecdotal stories of districts that just might be in play. Indeed, one or two of them may be! For example, when conservative talk-radio host Jason Lewis captured a four-way fight for the GOP nomination for Congress in the purplish suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul earlier this month, giddy Democrats slid the open 2nd district seat into their column.

The first rule of journalism these days is that whenever a headline poses a question, the answer is no. In this case, it’s hell no.

Lewis, a frequent fill-in for Rush Limbaugh, might be a master performance artist on air but figures to be a divisive fit for one of the country’s last remaining swing districts. His book on states’ rights, after all, manages to suggest that if same-sex marriage is legal, slavery should be too. “People always say, ‘Well, if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t,’” he argues. “Uh, you know, if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.”

So that just might be one for the Democrats, especially since they’re running a well-funded centrist businesswoman. Trouble is: It’s just one, and the Republican advantage in the House is 247-188 — the GOP’s biggest margin since Election Day 1928. Democrats still need 29 more.

For those seats, the political writers at The New York Times and McClatchy looked to Kansas’s 3rd district after a Survey USA poll earlier this month found Hillary Clinton with a surprising lead there. (In contrast, Barack Obama only received 44 percent that district in in 2012.) “Could super-red Kansas elect a Democrat to Congress?” the breathless McClatchy headline asked. The first rule of journalism these days is that whenever a headline poses a question, the answer is no. In this case, it’s hell, no. Despite the good polling numbers for Clinton, Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder leads Democratic challenger Jay Sidie 53 percent to 36 percent, according to an August poll from Public Opinion Strategies.

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