Allowing legislators to pick the voters that make up their districts is a fundamental conflict of interest and central concern for the popular sovereignty of American elections. In The Realities of Redistricting, Jonathan Winburn examines the extent of this potential problem by focusing on both the incentives and the constraints facing state legislators during the redistricting process. Most research on redistricting tends to examine only the outcomes produced in terms of partisan gains or losses; however, we know much less about what constrains political mapmakers during the process. We know even less about whether constraints built into the process are enough to limit the partisan manipulation of both district boundaries and electoral outcomes. From the beginning stages of redistricting to the resulting outcomes on election day, this book analyzes the constraints and incentives that state legislators face. By examining the entire process, this book investigates who holds the power in the process and improves our understanding of the conditions under which redrawing district boundaries have a significant influence on partisan politics throughout the country. Specifically, reformers, who generally argue for commissions, may find that focusing on the rules rather than the actors is a better path to improving the process. The Realities of Redistricting is an interesting and informative read for anyone concerned with one of the most contentious processes in the American system.
About the author
Jonathan Winburn is assistant professor of political science at the University of Mississippi.
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