Illinois may be the nation’s worst Democratic Gerrymander

Arguably the country’s worst Democratic gerrymander is in Illinois, as he sparked a high-stakes game of musical chairs between the state’s five Republican House members.

Nathaniel Rakich:One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was a Republican from Illinois. But the new gerrymandered congressional map of the state seems determined to make Illinois’ Republican congressmen an endangered species.

There are currently five Republicans in the United States House delegation from Illinois. But that was apparently too much for the Democrats who were in charge of redistricting Illinois last fall. They drew a map grouping the five Republicans into just three congressional districts.

This started a high-stakes game of electoral musical chairs. At first, Congressman Mike Bost and Congresswoman Mary Miller were thrown together in the 12th District, while Congressman Rodney Davis was alone in the 15th District. But the far-right Miller has apparently decided she has a better chance of staying in Congress if she runs for re-election in the 15 against Davis, who is more moderate. Meanwhile, in the 16th District, Congressmen Darin LaHood and Adam Kinzinger were also double-bunked, a situation that was only resolved when Kinzinger decided not to run.

As a result, Democrats could hold 14 of Illinois’ 17 congressional seats after the 2022 election. That’s 82% of the seats, even though they’ll likely win less than 60% of the state’s popular vote. This is only possible because of the number of “wasted” Republican votes under the new map, either because they are cast in a district that is already safely red or because they outnumber the Democratic votes. Either way, those votes don’t count for a win.

Based on the results of the 2020 presidential election, this map wastes 1.9 million Republican votes. That’s nearly double the number of Democratic votes that are wasted under the card.

Theoretically, if Republicans and Democrats had the same number of lost votes in Illinois, Republicans would win 2.2 more congressional seats than under a Gerrymander of that caliber. By this measure, Illinois is the worst Democratic-drawn gerrymander in the nation.

Illinois’ aggressive Gerrymander is a big reason Democrats won seats by redistributing nationwide this year. But it could also backfire on you. In order to attract so many blue seats, Democrats had to scatter their voters, leaving some districts with only a small Democratic leaning. If Republicans have a strong election in 2022, they could end up winning not just their three safe red seats, but those light blue ones as well. This gerrymander could become Illinois’ biggest blunder since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over that lantern.

Granted, this map will most likely help Democrats in their quest to retain the House. But it is also possible that they have bitten off more than they can chew.

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