Don’t blame gerrymandering

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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In recent years, gerrymandering has been blamed for all sorts of ills, including (but not limited to) political gridlock. There is little doubt that politicians do attempt to draw lines for political purposes — or that there are less competitive seats than there used to be — or that this probably discourages compromise and cooperation. But it turns out these changes might have more to do with the fact that Americans are increasingly self-segregating along ideological lines.

Citing “The Big Sort,” a 2008 book authored by Bill Bishop, Tom Edsall writes:

“’The Big Sort’ focuses on one of the key factors behind these geographic trends: people are increasingly choosing to move into neighborhoods and communities of like-minded people who share their political views, creating what Bishop and Cushing call ‘way-of-life segregation.’”

This makes sense. People like being near people who are like them. And in an increasingly partisan world, it makes sense that this would include people who are politically like them.

For those who are tired of the “blame redistricting” narrative, there are good reasons to believe the conventional wisdom has been overwrought.

Matt K. Lewis