Public Policy Institute of California Argues 2001 Redistricting Did not Make Legislators More Partisan

In an attempt to characterize the effect Proposition 11 may have on California State Legislators, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) said in a recent study that the 2001 redistricting -which is often blamed for current partisanship in the legislator- did not have a significant affect on the partisan nature of the legislature. Instead they said the partisanship already existed in the legislature, and was not affected by the changes in districts. The do note however, that they did not study the potential effects of Proposition 11, only the historical effect of redistricting in California.

 Contrary to conventional wisdom about redistricting reform, there’s little evidence that it would reduce partisanship in Sacramento, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The PPIC analysis of legislative voting patterns finds that the 2001 redistricting – which has been blamed for gridlock over the budget and a polarized legislature – did not make legislators more partisan. Creating new election districts is unlikely to make the legislature more moderate, the report concludes.

“There was just as much partisanship in the late 1990s as there was in the mid-2000s,” says PPIC research fellow Eric McGhee. “Redistricting did not make California legislators more partisan. They were partisan to begin with.”

Disillusion with the redistricting process — which allows legislators to draw district lines and, in effect, choose their own voters—has fueled moves to give redistricting authority to a more impartial body. The latest is Proposition 11, on the November ballot, which would give an independent commission of citizens the power to draw the legislative map. The PPIC report does not examine Proposition 11 nor assess other goals offered by proponents of redistricting reform. The report, Redistricting and Legislative Partisanship, focuses solely on whether the 2001 redistricting made legislators more partisan by protecting incumbents from serious election challenges.

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