The Measure of a Metric: The Debate Over Quantifying Partisan Gerrymandering

66 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017 Last revised: 22 Jun 2018

See all articles by Nicholas Stephanopoulos

Nicholas Stephanopoulos

University of Chicago Law School

Eric McGhee

Public Policy Institute of California

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

Over the last few years, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of scholarship on partisan gerrymandering. Much of this work has sought either to introduce new measures of gerrymandering or to analyze a metric — the efficiency gap — that we previously developed. In this Article, we reframe this debate by presenting a series of criteria that can be used to evaluate gerrymandering metrics: (1) consistency with the efficiency principle; (2) distinctness from other electoral values; (3) breadth of scope; and (4) correspondence with electoral history. We then apply these criteria to both the efficiency gap and other measures. The efficiency gap complies with the criteria under all circumstances. Other metrics, in contrast, often violate the efficiency principle and cannot be used in certain electoral settings.

Keywords: Election law; redistricting; partisan gerrymandering

Suggested Citation

Stephanopoulos, Nicholas and McGhee, Eric, The Measure of a Metric: The Debate Over Quantifying Partisan Gerrymandering (May 2018). 70 Stan. L. Rev. 1503 (2018); U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 672. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3077766

Nicholas Stephanopoulos (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Eric McGhee

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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