The Redistricting Explanation
WHEN SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN STATE PARTY CHAIRS ATTEMPT TO EXplain their party's slow progress at the Congressional and subnational levels in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, almost all point to Democratic gerrymandering as one of the most significant impediments to their party building efforts. George Strake, chairman of the Texas Republican state party during the mid-1980s, boasted that the GOP would control "ten more Congressional districts" in Texas if it were not for the Democrats controlling the redistricting process. 2 Strake's remark represents just one voice in the GOP's chorus line concerning the Democratic party's atrocities in the South. Florida Republican party Chairman Van Poole echoes Strake's remarks: " Poole . . . has seen legislative and congressional districts zigzagged to split Republican strongholds and give the Democrats the edge. . . . Using his finger as a pencil, Poole sketches out the four state Senate districts in Broward County that are held by three Democrats and one Republican. . . . Broward County, he explains, would be easy to gerrymander to favor the GOP because the eastern side of the county is dotted with Democratic condominium dwellers while the Republican population tends to be concentrated in subdivisions in the western side of the county" ( Dudley 1989, POL 12:G13).
The influence of the redistricting process in the 1970s and 1980s is assessed by charting the extent of bias toward the Democrats in Southern state legislative contests and by exploring whether the elimination of multimember districts, in pursuance of the 1969 version of the Voting Rights Act, aided the GOP's ability to win state legislative elections. This topic is significant because Democratic gerrymandering may have been one of the most significant obstacles to Republican top-down advancement.
Unfortunately, the unavailability of 1992 and 1994 election data for the state legislative level prevents a detailed analysis of the effects of the