Redistricting Moderates Out of Congress
Journalists in Washington and other places have reported for at least the past year and a half on the so-called end of the moderate in Congress. I’ll be the first to admit that there are fewer moderate members of Congress than there were in the last Congress. And after Election Day, there may be fewer still.
But that’s not because there are fewer moderate voters in the United States. It’s because moderate voters are being drawn into extremely partisan districts, where moderate candidates can run but cannot win.
Every 10 years state legislatures redraw their U.S. House districts to conform to population changes. State legislators are really good at drawing districts that guarantee a win for the party in charge. Unfortunately, the easiest way to guarantee that is by ensuring an extremely partisan candidate will win the district.
The result is the disappearance of competitive districts where candidates must earn the support of a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents. In the growing number of “safe” districts in our nation, a representative must earn the approval of voters from just one party. One of the clearest examples of this came in 2003, when the Texas government redrew district lines just two years after a court-approved map had been created. Under the new maps, seven Democrats either lost, switched parties or didn’t bother to run for reelection.