As I was doing research for a future post, I came across this project website by Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis, researchers at UCLA, that is a great source for historical Congressional District boundaries.
What caught my attention as I was reading the home page of the site, though, was an animation it contained of all U.S. Congressional District boundaries since the beginning of the republic. As I was watching this animation and focusing on the states that are most egregiously gerrymandered today, it seemed to me that the political mischief got much worse in the last 20 years. If so, perhaps this results from a combination of urbanization (which makes gerrymandering more obvious on a map), along with increasing technical and political sophistication among the special interests who drive gerrymandering.
Take a look at my blow-up of Texas since the Civil War, taken off Lewis et al’s website: to me this looks like an animation of gerrymandering taking a dark turn for the worse after 1990. Do you see what I’m seeing?
[wpvideo PUwtJm5R]Video captured from http://cdmaps.polisci.ucla.edu/, approximate dates added. Source is Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis. (2013) Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, 1789-2012.