Gerrymandering is defined as setting boundaries in electoral districts in order to give a political party an advantage. Redistricting is something that occurs in all states about every decade. While this is seen as a political exercise, in some instances, state legislators and governors control the redistricting and can give their political party an advantage over their opponents.
Gerrymandering first occurred when minorities were given the right to vote. Legislative bodies used gerrymandering to ensure that the political power of these voters was diminished. Today, gerrymandering may occur for various reasons, although there have been proposals for ways to prevent this from occurring. These proposals include hiring commissions for redistricting or putting alternative voting systems into place.
In some states, this practice is more common than in others. The most gerrymandered states in the U.S. include:
Among the most Gerrymandered
|Arkansas||Republican||Strange horseshoe shaped areas like District 3 balance out influential city voters in Arkansas by taking chunks out of deeply red rural areas. Little Rock, home of Bill Clinton, is the seat of Southern democrats, yet the state retains a lockstep Republican majority in Congress.|
|Kentucky||Republican||Kentucky's gerrymander crams growing urban populations into existing district boundaries. This strategy has resulted in notably lopsided representation, with large urban populations cut out of other districts and attached to sprawling rural areas.|
|Louisiana||Republican||Louisiana conservatives fit Baton Rouge and New Orleans into a single district to minimize liberal votes and take the remaining districts.|
|Maryland||Democrat||Maryland’s broken districts provide an unfair advantage to liberals. If the map was adjusted according to more appropriate standards, up to three districts would be more competitive|
|North Carolina||Republican||North Carolina’s map concentrates minority voters into Districts 1 and 12, minimizing their impact in other districts. A new map has been recommended after the state Supreme Court’s rejection of the previous map, and dramatically adjusts district boundaries.|
|Ohio||Republican||Although the total number of votes cast for each major party is consistently close in Ohio, gerrymandering techniques known as "packing" and "cracking" enabled the party that drew the maps to win 75% of the seats (12 of 16) in 2016 despite earning only 50–60% of the votes.|
|Pennsylvania||Republican||Pennsylvania's gerrymander dilutes the interests of major urban (read: liberal) areas like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Reading by dividing them among other districts.|
|Texas||Republican||Despite huge, sprawling urban areas that are typically liberal country, the Texas GOP maintains a stranglehold on a majority of the state. The state's post-2020 redistricting is currently navigating a legal challenge, but has been identified by the statistical analysts at FiveThirtyEight as perhaps the new worst gerrymander in the country|
|Utah||Republican||Utah’s approach to keeping the state red draws and quarters the heavily progressive, liberal area of Salt Lake City and divides those votes up into surrounding rural districts.|
|West Virginia||Republican||In West Virginia, conservatives have whittled what used to be six different districts into three over the past few decades. As a result, while greater than a third of West Virginia’s population voted for a Democrat in the 2016 election, all of the state’s congressional representation remained Republican.|
|Wisconsin||Republican||Wisconsin is widely considered the most gerrymandered state in the country. In 2022, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in state-level elections unaffected by gerrymandering (because they use the total statewide vote instead of separating it by district). On a district level, by comparison, the state's infamous gerrymandering enabled Republicans to retain a 64-35 advantage in the state Assembly and a 22-11 majority in the state Senate.|