Republican House Racial Polarization

Elephant and DonkeyScott Bland has provided an amazing graph over at National Journal in an article, Why Immigration Reform Could Die in the House. The article itself shows that getting immigration reform through the House of Representatives could be harder than many people imagine. Of the Republicans in the House, 112 of them (almost 50%) are in districts that are more than 80% white. Fully 74% of Republicans are in districts that are at least 70% white. What’s more, the Republicans in this House represent even more predominantly white districts than they did in the last House.

Bland argues that a large fraction of the House Republicans have no incentive at all to be in favor of immigration reform that does anymore than deport more people and spend more for border enforcement. In fact, many of them have an incentive to block real reform. This reminds me of something that I read in Michelle Alexander’s excellent The New Jim Crow. I can’t find the reference, but it turns out that people who live in low crime areas are more punitive in their attitudes to criminals than people in high crime areas. The same thing happens with undocumented immigrants. And it all comes down to community: if you don’t know people, it is easy to vilify them like the retractable horned Jews of Borat’s imagination.

Here is the graph; click on it to see it at full resolution:

House District Demographics

The first thing to notice about this graph is how gerrymandered the districts are by race. Of all the districts 54% of them are more than 30% white. It seems to me that with the settled law about districts not being too gerrymandered and the Voting Rights Act, that a court case could be made against the current districts. We really do need to do something about gerrymandering, but unfortunately, it benefits both parties at different times and that seems to stop any movement on reform.

The second thing to notice is that the Democratic districts are fairly evenly distributed. In contrast, the Republican districts look like a Poisson distribution. You can really see the demographic catastrophe awaiting them in this graph. They simply do not appeal to anyone other than white people.

As a Democrat, I’m very pleased with this graph. As an American, I’m appalled.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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