Alex Isenstadt writing for Politico:
Boehner dismissed Democratic claims that House control is up for grabs and argued that the once-in-a-decade redistricting process has made the GOP’s hold on the majority ironclad.
Redistricting “gives us a very strong foundation for the decade,” Boehner said.
“I think it will be nearly impossible” for Democrats to win back the House in November, Boehner said. “I think our freshman members are doing a good job preparing themselves for the upcoming election. I would also note that redistricting across the country has helped those freshman members and others in tough seats who will now have better seats.
My belief is that the problems with our government, specifically the inability of the President and Congress to tackle any big issue in any substantive way – tax reform, entitlement reform, the debt and deficit, the military budget, education, energy, and the environment to name a few – is fundamentally structural. Specifically, it’s caused by heavily gerrymandered districts in the House, and the abuse of the filibuster in the Senate.
Gerrymandering in the House means almost all members are from safe districts and are easily reelected every 2 years. The House incumbency rate is consistently over 90%. If an incumbent from a safe district does face a challenge, it’s in the primary, so House members are encouraged to be responsible to primary voters rather than general election voters. This leads to an excess of ideological partisans in the House.
Redistricting is far worse in the modern age because computer software enables the drawing of district lines with extreme accuracy. Whereas legislators once laid maps of their states on the ground to draw districts by hand, it’s now possible to sit at a computer and bring up a wealth of demographic and voter behavior that makes creating safe districts a snap.
I don’t think our extreme partisan political culture will change until there’s redistricting reform, short of a national emergency. One positive sign is that California’s giving reform a try.