New rules for 2020 aim to cut down on partisan districts in Ohio elections

New rules for 2020 aim to cut down on partisan districts in Ohio elections (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Ohio's admittedly gerrymandered congressional districts will be redrawn after the 2020 census, but political science expert and Xavier University professor, Mack Mariani, does not think a new congressional district map will make a big difference. He said Ohioans are sorting themselves.

"People who are moving into the Over-the-Rhine area are disproportionately Democratic. People who are moving to West Chester are disproportionately Republican. And so, the sort, we call it the 'big sort,' that we're sorting ourselves into these little enclaves that only serve to reinforce our partisan biases," Mariani said.

Mariani said Democrats in Ohio and across the country are concentrated in bigger cities.

"Certainly, more than the Republicans' base is. And so, one of the challenges becomes if you create a district with mostly Democrats, that certainly gives them the seat, but it also means there are fewer Democrats in surrounding districts," he said.

Republicans won three-fourths of Ohio’s 16 seats. The GOP won its 12 races by about a 60-40 percent margin.

Democrats won four seats by a roughly 70 to 30 percent margin. Democrats could have won two or three more seats under a proposed new map, submitted as part of a federal lawsuit against Ohio and how its districts are drawn.

Mariani said not so fast: The districts are like puzzle pieces.

"It is a bit like you're moving puzzle pieces around the board and you can move one puzzle piece over this way, but you're ultimately going to find it hard to ultimately draw them in exactly, to generate the fair lines that we might see as proportionate to the exact votes that you got in the state," he said.

Ohioans will go to the polls one more time with the current map before a new one will be drawn in 2021.

The new map will be created under new rules designed to prevent districts created along party lines. It requires compact districts and limits county splits. No more than five counties can be split three ways. No more than 18 counties can be split two ways and at least 65 counties must be kept whole.

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