The Garden State Model? Redistricting Commissions and the New Jersey Experience


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Nicholas Stephanopoulos
University of Chicago Law School

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The Garden State Model? Redistricting Commissions and the New Jersey Experience

  1. 1. Nicholas StephanopoulosUniversity of Chicago Law SchoolThe Garden State Model?Redistricting Commissions and theNew Jersey ExperiencePaul Simon Public Policy InstituteRedistricting ConferenceApril 30, 2013
  2. 2. Types of Redistricting Commissions1. Partisan: Unbalanced partisan composition. Oftenmade up of state officials appointed ex officio. E.g.,Arkansas, Ohio, Texas.2. Bipartisan: Balanced partisan composition.Members often appointed by party leaders. E.g.,Colorado, New Jersey, Washington.3. Nonpartisan: Relatively insulated from politicalpressures. Citizen body is one option, technocraticbody is another. E.g., California, Iowa, foreigncommissions.
  3. 3. New Jersey Background• Apportionment Commission: Responsible for state legislativeredistricting. Created in 1966. 10 members appointed bychairpersons of state parties. If they cannot agree on plans, N.J.Supreme Court Chief Justice appoints 11th member.• Redistricting Commission: Responsible for congressionalredistricting. Created in 1995. 12 members appointed by statelegislative and party leaders. If they cannot agree onchairperson, N.J. Supreme Court picks between two contenderswith most votes based on ability and experience.• Chairpersons: Extremely distinguished individuals includingProf. Larry Bartels (Princeton), Prof. John Farmer (Rutgers), Prof.Alan Rosenthal (Rutgers), and Prof. Donald Stokes (Princeton).Have played very active role in process and prioritized partisanfairness.
  4. 4. Electoral MetricsMetric DefinitionPartisan bias Divergence in parties’ shares of statewideseats for same share of statewide votesEfficiency differential Gap between parties’ respective “wasted”votesAverage margin of victory Average difference in vote shares betweenwinning and losing candidatesShare of competitive districts Proportion of races decided by less thantwenty pointsElectoral responsiveness Rate at which party gains or loses seats givenchanges in its statewide vote sharePartisanfairnessCompetitiveness
  5. 5. Record of U.S. Commissions – PartisanFairness0%1%2%3%4%5%6%7%8%9%10%U.S. House State LegislaturesLegislature Commission0%2%4%6%8%10%12%U.S. House State LegislaturesLegislature CommissionPartisan Bias Efficiency Differential
  6. 6. Record of U.S. Commissions –Competitiveness0%10%20%30%40%50%60%U.S. House State LegislaturesLegislature Commission0%5%10%15%20%25%30%35%40%45%U.S. House State LegislaturesLegislature Commission00.511.522.5U.S. House State LegislaturesLegislature CommissionAverage Margin of Victory Share of Competitive Districts Electoral Responsiveness
  7. 7. Record of U.S. Commissions - RegressionsMetric Commission CourtU.S. House – partisanbias U.S. House – efficiencydifferentialState legislatures – partisanbias State legislatures – efficiencydifferential  U.S. House – average margin ofvictory U.S. House – share of competitivedistricts U.S. House – electoralresponsiveness State legislatures – average marginof victory State legislatures – share ofcompetitive districts State legislatures – electoralresponsiveness 
  8. 8. Record of Foreign Commissions
  9. 9. Record of New Jersey Commissions –Partisan Fairness0%2%4%6%8%10%12%U.S. House State LegislaturesOther Commission New Jersey0%2%4%6%8%10%12%U.S. House State LegislaturesOther Commission New JerseyPartisan Bias Efficiency Differential
  10. 10. Record of New Jersey Commissions –Competitiveness0%10%20%30%40%50%60%U.S. House State LegislaturesOther Commission New Jersey0%5%10%15%20%25%30%35%40%45%50%U.S. House State LegislaturesOther Commission New Jersey00.511.522.53U.S. House State LegislaturesOther Commission New JerseyAverage Margin of Victory Share of Competitive Districts Electoral Responsiveness
  11. 11. Concluding Points1. Properly structured commission can produce realimprovement in partisan fairness2. If commission ignores competitiveness it will notarise by accident3. Bipartisan commission is not optimal model, but if itis to be used, it should be with highly skilled andactive chairperson