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Measuring Partisan Bias in Single-Member District Electoral Systems

46 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2013 Last revised: 8 Jul 2013

Eric McGhee

Public Policy Institute of California

Date Written: May 29, 2013

Abstract

In recent decades, the literature has coalesced around either symmetry or responsiveness as measures of partisan bias in single-member district systems. I argue neither accurately captures the traditional idea of an "efficient" gerrymander, where one party claims more seats without more votes. I suggest a better measure of efficiency and then use this new measure to reconsider a classic study of partisan gerrymandering. Contrary to the original study findings, I show that the effects of party control on bias are small and decay rapidly, suggesting that redistricting is at best a blunt tool for promoting partisan interests.

Keywords: redistricting, gerrymandering, partisan bias, electoral systems, elections, American politics

Suggested Citation

McGhee, Eric, Measuring Partisan Bias in Single-Member District Electoral Systems (May 29, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2195785 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2195785

Eric McGhee (Contact Author)

Public Policy Institute of California ( email )

500 Washington Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States
415-291-4439 (Phone)

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