I’ve been trying to avoid political posts since the post-mortem post, but something in today’s paper just got to me. In an article about the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and his desire to stand firm on taxes there is the line:
Even though election-day exit polls showed most Americans have said they prefer the president’s approach — asking upper-income households to pay higher taxes — Boehner believes his party similarly won a mandate against tax hikes as the majority party in the House.
Boehner’s belief that he has a mandate based on the house majority is wrong. House seats are essentially winner take all: If a Republican is elected to represent a district, that does not mean that the district all agrees with that candidate. Further, the “winner take all” effect for congressional districts is amplified by the effect of Gerrymandering. In most states, districts have gone to particular parties because they were specifically drawn to permit that party to win. In some districts, there was no opposition to vote for. That, my friends, is not representational government. The article on Gerrymandering pointed out that overall, more Democratic votes for congress were received than Republican votes, and that wouldn’t surprise me either.
By the way, this goes both ways. Looking at the electoral map and numbers (332 to 206), you might think there was a strong Democratic mandate. You would be wrong. Here’s a map (h/t David Bell) that shows the states deformed to reflect population: