Members of the US House of the Representatives from these 11 easiest congressional seats to win in America have it easy. They are almost guaranteed a trip to Washington DC on the taxpayers’ dime.
In theory, all 435 congressional district should be equal in terms of population, and on the surface, they are, at least when headcount is concerned. However, the demographics of those districts can vary wildly, and that is where parties seek their chance to secure safe havens for their candidates, where their win will be all but guaranteed. It all started with Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Massachusetts in 1812. Governor decided to redo congressional districts’ (and consequently voters distribution) borders to ensure his party’s success in the upcoming election by giving it some easy congressional seats. Newspapers quickly got wind of his intentions and publish a caricature, claiming that the Governor’s new map looks like a salamander. Combined with his last name, this gave us the term gerrymandering.
At first, gerrymandering was done to create districts where a party would easily win a congressional seat. The method evolved and today it is employed by creating pockets of voters that will vote for the opposition. By giving them one easy win, gerrymandering party eliminated opposition voters from the neighboring districts, thus securing several easy seats for themselves.
From the beginning, gerrymandering was heavily frowned upon and conducted in utmost secrecy. But lately, it has become almost acceptable practice, with parties even publishing their plans for it. This should top the list of the biggest political scandals of all time.
We witnessed the best illustration of how powerful gerrymandering is at the 2014 congress election. Politico discovered that in seven states in which Republicans were in charge of drawing the districts’ boundaries, the results were pretty close, 16.7 million for the GOP and 16.3 million for the Democrats. It would be reasonable to expect that 107 congressional seats on the table would be divided almost by the middle. In reality, thanks to the magic of gerrymandering, Republicans took 73 seats, opposed to the Democrats’ 34. With just a hair above 50% of voters, the GOP claimed whopping 68% of congress seats.
If you think only Republicans dabble in gerrymandering, you have obviously never been to Maryland. In the 2014 elections, Democrats won 57.44% of voters, while Republicans got 41.36% in the entire state. Out of 8 representatives Maryland sends to Congress, 7 were Democrats, in sharp contrast to the popular vote. Several changes in the law have been proposed to alleviate the consequences of partisan gerrymandering, but none have been passed yet.
Out of 11 easiest congressional districts on our list, 3 are from North Caroline, 2 each from Maryland and Florida, while the remaining four are located in Ohio, Texas, Louisiana and New York.
In order to determine the easiest congressional seats to win, we combine two parameters. We started with an Azavea White Paper on the least compact congressional districts in America. This is, of course, a euphemism for the most gerrymandered district and states in America. Azavea researchers used a combination of several methods to come up with this list, namely Polsby-Popper, Schwartzberg Convex Hull, and Reock, to avoid things like coastlines skewing the metrics and proclaiming a district gerrymandered simply because of its natural features. These four methods combined help eliminate such worries, revealing gerrymandering in all its glory. Additional points were given for the percentage of the voters that voted for the winner in the last elections. You’ll notice that most candidates won by a wide margin, often raking in more than 60% of the vote, with some going into mid-seventies. There are some exceptions, but in general, these are 11 easiest congressional seats to win in America, provided you can get your party’s nomination. Primaries are where the real fight is, and general elections in these districts are viewed as simply a formality.