Carolinamander

In the 2018 midterm election, in U.S. House races, 50% of North Carolina voters supported the Republican party. What portion of the state’s 13 congressional seats did the Republican party win?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. (Without using any profanities) What was your first reaction to the outcome illustrated in the map?

  3. How does an outcome like this happen?*

  4. Why is this legal?

  5. Who decides if it is legal?

  6. What story does the map tell?

  7. Why do political parties gerrymander?

  8. Describe two impacts of gerrymandering on our political system.

  9. The Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal.” The Fourteenth Freaking Amendment guarantees “equal protection of the laws.” And in Baker v. Carr (1961), the Supreme Court ruled, “one person, one vote.” What does the data from the map say about political equality?

  10. Why don’t voters punish political parties from gerrymandering?

  11. Describe the connection between gerrymandering and federalism.

  12. Describe the connection between gerrymandering and checks and balances.

  13. Who exactly is in charge of drawing congressional district lines?

  14. How often do congressional lines get redrawn?

  15. What is the difference between redistricting and reapportionment?

  16. Is North Carolina the only state to gerrymander?

  17. Imagine you were part of an interest group opposed to the way congressional district lines were drawn in your state. Describe a course of action you could take to try to make redistricting more democratic?

  18. Gerrymandering was named such because lines that were drawn to ensure the victory of Elbridge Gerry (he has a Twitter feed!!!!) looked like a salamander (see visual extension below).* What animal does any of the North Carolina crazy-redistricting look like?

  19. Notice that some of the biggest cities in North Carolina like Charlotte and Raleigh are in very blue districts with high levels of Democratic voters. Putting lots and lots of similar voters in one district is called packing. Other heavily Democratic cities (like mine- Winston-Salem - whoot! whoot!)* are split between two congressional districts, diluting their power, and called cracking. If you were a Supreme Court Justice hearing a case about this, explain whether you would rule cracking and packing constitutional.*

  20. One aspect of a democratic and fair election is that all people are represented fairly and equally. Imagine you were an election monitor sent from the United Nations or some other international organization to oversee NC elections. Based on the results as shown in the map, make a claim about whether the people of North Carolina (N. Cackalacky) live in a democratic system.

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Read this NYTimes article on the art of gerrymandering in North Carolina.

Action Extension

Research gerrymandering in your own state. Write your state legislators and share your claim (from #20 above) about how democratic gerrymandering is and ask them to respond.

INSANE Therapy Animal Extension

 Yes, that’s blurry. No, I didn’t take it. Yes, that’s a therapy freaking turkey! Gobble! Gobble!

Yes, that’s blurry. No, I didn’t take it. Yes, that’s a therapy freaking turkey! Gobble! Gobble!