The following chart illustrates how much the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander has affected California politics to this day. In 1991, redistricting lines were drawn by the Courts along community lines. The result was a number of competitive districts that changed party control as voter opinions shifted during the decade. The 2001 redistricting, on the other hand, was a bipartisan incumbent-protection gerrymander. It resulted in only five districts — out of 153 total Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional districts in the state — changing party control through 2008, despite the significant national Democratic “wave” elections in 2006 and 2008. As we go into the November 2010 elections and many incumbents nationwide are facing extremely close races, California’s incumbents are relatively safe thanks to this gerrymandering from a decade ago.
Rose Institute Fellow Douglas Johnson was recently quoted in an Orange County Register article and in the Chicago Tribune discussing these numbers. The chart below illustrates the dramatic drop in districts changing party hands under each decade’s lines. Click on the graph to see a larger version.