Rep. Peter King (R-NY) seems to think that Republicans in the House of Representatives were given a “mandate” by voters allowing them to prevent tax cuts for the rich from expiring, despite exit polls showing voters overwhelmingly support tax hikes. “[T]he fact is, in Congress, the American people have returned a Republican House of Representatives. So we also have, if you want to call it, a mandate.”
Except that’s not quite true, Mr King, and you know it. The American people didn’t vote for a Republican House, the Republicans didn’t actually win the House, and therefore there is no mandate. 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic House candidate compared to 53,402,643 cast for a Republican; in other words, over half a million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than for Republican candidates. Republicans received less than half of the vote for members of the House of Representatives, and even lost seats in the House this election. Yet Republicans still took 55 percent of the seats in the House. In effect, they had to steal the House. Here’s how:
In 2010, Republicans won a substantial majority of state governments. Once they were in power, they then deliberately redrew congressional district lines in order to manipulate the 2012 House election for a Republican victory. It’s called gerrymandering, a very old, very nasty technique that has long been successful in affecting the outcome of elections, for both sides. And it’s getting worse now that computer modelling can precisely calculate districts to maximize political advantages. Citizens, advocates and political parties have filed 194 lawsuits challenging congressional or state district maps in 41 states. Lawsuits are still pending in eight states.
Gerrymandering is the process of manipulating geographic borders to create a political advantage for a particular party, obstructing the ability of voters who oppose a state’s ruling party to influence future elections. It works on the principle of “wasted voting” – a numbers game where opposition voters are shifted, or “packed” into districts where their party would win anyway even without their vote, then “cracking” any remaining opposition voters by moving them into districts where they are a significant minority, rendering their vote futile. Voters, of course, aren’t physically moved, just the lines on a map where they officially live, which end up bizarrely twisted and distorted out of any natural proportions. And it’s technically legal.