Princeton University

A New Project on Partisan Gerrymandering

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This is a big year for partisan gerrymandering. Recently, star litigator Paul M. Smith has cleared the decks for voting-rights cases in the courts. That’s just one move of many that assures that voting rights will be in the spotlight in the coming Supreme Court term.

The effects of partisan gerrymandering are plain in the graph above. Up until and including the election of 2010, seats the U.S. House were related to the national vote as indicated by the shaded gray zone. The redistricting of 2010 led to a jump of about a dozen seats away from partisan equity. The suddenness of this change, along with my statistical analysis (Stanford Law Review) reveals how this jump arose from partisan redistricting efforts in a handful of states.

Today, I am pleased to announce that starting in 2017, I will take my work on partisan gerrymandering to a new level. I am now looking for full-time help for the next one to two years.

As many readers know, I have developed simple statistical standards to define partisan gerrymandering. These standards are designed to be consistent with existing Supreme Court precedent, and avoid statutory and Constitutional landmines that other standards may hit. Representationally, this project may lead to a net change of dozens of House and other legislative seats. Cases are now percolating through courts in Wisconsin, Maryland, and North Carolina. Without getting into the details, I will say that our work will be unique, and is highly likely to be deployed as an argument in these cases.
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My proposed standards have been published in the Stanford Law Review and the Election Law Journal, and have won a prize from Common Cause. If adopted, the tests will level the playing field between the two parties.

I am now recruiting a research assistant to do data analysis on elections and redistircting. I am looking for a politically interested and statistically savvy person, bachelor’s degree or higher, to assist in this project. It would be suitable for someone who is between college and graduate school; more mature analysts are also welcome. In addition to the practical impacts, original publications may arise from this project. The term of appointment is one year, renewable for a second year.

Together, we will:

  • Apply the statistical analysis to Congress and state legislatures, 1900-now;
  • Compare the results with map-based methods and other newer standards such as the efficiency gap;
  • Assist in the preparation of reports, in-depth analysis, and possible peer-reviewed publications; and

If time and expertise permit, we will also make the site gerrymander.princeton.edu more user-friendly. This will require HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and maybe Python. A second hire might be made in this area.

Soon there will be an official job posting. In advance of that, I invite interested people to send me an email at sswang@princeton.edu and describe their qualifications and availability.

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