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Steve Kornacki To Democrats: Stop Whining About Gerrymandering

MSNBC: Steve Kornacki wants Democrats to stop complaining about the “clean sweep” they “would’ve had” in 2012 if it weren’t for gerrymandering because, even though redistricting wasn’t a complete non-factor, the real problem is that Democrats’ support base is less geographically spread out than ever.

KORNACKI: When it comes to the lower chamber, as you know, states are split into districts. What that means in the average big state is that the Democratic vote–packed into metro areas–is concentrated in a handful of districts, where Obama and his fellow Democrats won with massive majorities of 70%, 80%. But in the exurban and rural areas that make up the rest of these states, the GOP had the advantage. Not as dramatically, but enough to win district after district with 55 or 60% of the vote. Thus did we see results like this, in Ohio, where Obama won the state and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown was reelected–but Republicans gobbled up 12 of the 16 available House seats.

When Jimmy Carter was drummed out of office in a 44-state landslide in 1980, he managed to carry 900 counties nationally. When Michael Dukakis ran for president in 1988, he suffered a 40-state landslide, but still claimed 819 counties. Four years after that, Bill Clinton won the presidency with 1,524 counties. Do you know how many counties Obama won last year? 690. That’s it. 690. Even though he won a convincing popular vote majority.

Gerrymandering wasn’t a complete non-factor in ’12. The GOP probably grabbed a few extra seats because of it. But the real problem for Democrats is that their base of support is less spread out geographically than ever. Which means they can win presidential races and even control of the Senate. But when it comes to the House, their best–and only–chance for the foreseeable future is a massive anti-GOP tide, like the ones we saw in 2006 and 2008. Short of that, the era of Republican Speakers could last for a while.

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