A commonly held view is that the extraordinarily high incumbent re-election rate in the US is due to gerrymanderingÂ (colloquially known to political operatives as “crack and pack”). My friends John Friedman (a Harvard PhD student) and Richard Holden (an Aussie who’s just started at MIT Sloan) beg to differ. In a piece in the New Republic, they argue that money, political polarisation, and changes in the media are to blame.
In fact, while the technology for gerrymandering has become more sophisticated, Friedman and Holden argue that the constraints on gerrymanderers (eg. minority protections in the 1982 Voting Rights Act) have gotten tougher. As a result, there’s actually less egregious gerrymandering going on now than in the past.