Ohio Gerrymandering, and the 12th District Special Election
We will look at Gerrymandering in Ohio from a few viewpoints, and then the Ohio 12th special election.
Ohio has 16 Congressional Districts, and they are currently 12 Republican and 4 Democratic. That is a three to one R/D ratio. But, Ohio has been a bellwether state, having favored elected Presidents. They voted for Obama and Clinton. That is the first evidence that Ohio should be more equally represented.
But maybe this equality was severely skewed by the last election, and House seats follow the latest election. Trump won Ohio with 51.3% of the votes, Clinton got 43.2%, Johnson got 3.2%, and others 1.0% independent, and others 1.3%. Out of 16 seats, a one seat excess or 9 to 7 Republican split would be 56.25% to 43.75%, or a 12.5% split. Yet, the actual election split was only 8.1%. And Trump got nowhere near a 56.25% majority, while Clinton almost matched the 43.75% split. So the last election result would have at most justified a 9 to 7 split. Yet Trump’s 51.3% could also be taken as much closer to an 8 to 8 equal split.
A 9 to 7 split would be a 1.29 to 1 R/D ratio, rather than the present 3 to 1.
Let’s look at the Presidential results from the District distribution, looking for “packing” of Democrats into a few districts. Trump did win 12 of the 16 districts, and his wins topped out at 69%, 65%, and 64%, with the other wins being in the 50s. Clinton’s wins were in 4 districts, and were 81%, 67%, 59%, and 51%. The 81% in the 11th District, and the 67% in the 3rd District do look packed, although Trump’s 69% in the 6th District was also packed.
Now we cover yesterday’s remarkable result of a near tie in Ohio’s 12th District, with about 100,000 votes for each candidate. In 2016, Republican Pat Tiberi won that district with 66.6% of the vote, to Democrat Ed Albertson 29.8%, and Green Party Joe Manchik at 3.6%. The votes in that General Election were 251,266 for Tiberi, 112,638 for Albertson, and 13,474 for Manchik. The total votes for those three were 377,378 votes.
In the Ohio 12th, in 2016, Trump beat Clinton by 53% to 42%, which is close to the state result of 51% to 43%. Tiberi had served nine terms in Congress, succeeding John Kasich. So the real breakdown of the district might be more like Trump’s 8 percent Republican lead. FiveThirtyEight political site has this district as 14 points more Republican leaning.
In several contrasts, last night, in a special election for a Representative until next January, Republican Troy Balderson got 101,772 for 50.1%, Democrat Danny O’Connor got 100,208 for 49.3%, and Green Party Joe Manchik got 1,129 for 0.6%.
Update: About 600 uncounted votes were found, reducing the Republican lead to 1,564 votes. The uncounted ballots are now stated in Huffington Post as 1,722 provisional ballots, and 1,750 absentee ballots. The New York Times says 3.435 provisional ballots are still to be counted, as originally reported on TV networks. The voting numbers above have been updated to the new 600 ballots counted.
Total votes were 202,521, or only 53.7% of the General Election vote. The Democratic vote yesterday was 88.6% of the General Election, while the Republican vote was only 40.4% of the General Election.
A Democratic pessimist could say that the Democrats got an impressive but almost maximal turnout, while the Republicans were unmotivated voting for a 5 month House term with nothing else on the ballot, and still have 60% of their voters on the bench. It’s also possible that they were turned off by Trump’s uninvited visit to their District, since he combated their two-term Governor, John Kasich, in the primaries, and insulted their sports and education hero, LeBron James. Exit polls and voter precinct analyses could settle these questions.
To Ohio’s credit, it has passed a bill to have the legislature draft the next reapportionment bill in 2021, which will give some weight to the minority party. But that is still two elections and 4 years of Gerrymandered representation away.