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Thursday
Nov082012

Holy Gerrymandering Batman! Democrats Won State Senate Vote By 5%, But Trail 13-11

Although Republicans cling to a 13-11 seat edge in the New Hampshire Senate after Democrats gained six seats, an analysis of the overall vote cast is most intriguing.
Talk about winning the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, if my quick math is correct, more voters were cast for Democrats than Republicans in the 24 State Senate races.
In fact, Republican President Peter Bragdon was not even opposed in District 11.  Even if we add in his 18,644 votes (as opposed to none for Democrats there), Democrats held exactly a two point edge in overall votes cast for Senate (51.0-49.0 percent).  Check my math if you will, but I come up with 325,044 votes for the 23 Democratic candidates and 312,422 for the 24 Republicans.
If you take district 11 out of the mixture, the Democratic advantage swells to five points in the 23 contested districts (52.5-47.5 percent).  The total would be 325,044 for Democrats; 293,778 for Republicans.
How could this be?
Easy.
The same way a candidate could conceivably win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote.
During redistricting earlier this year, Republicans were able to "stack and pack".  That's the term used in redistricting.  It's also know as gerrymandering. 
Democrats won certain district by tremendous margins while Republicans won the close ones.  For example, David Pierce beat Joe Osgood 17,719-9940 in District 5 (Lebanon-Hanover-Cleremont); Sylvia Larsen won District 15 (Concord) by nearly 11,000 votes (19,383-8379); Martha Fuller Clark carried District 21 (Portsmouth/Durham) by more than 11,000 votes (19,740-8674).
That's a lot of votes which were "wasted", which would have been better placed in districts where Democrats just barely lost.  But don't think it was done by coincidence.  Republicans controlled the Senate 19-5 and the House 298-102 when redistricting was done, and you can be sure they deliberately "stacked and packed".  They did so brilliantly.
In fact, as Democrats have held the corner office and taken what appears to be a 223-177 lead in the New Hampshire House, it could easily be argued that only Senate redistricters stopped Democrats from taking total control.  President Peter Bragdon and Republicans statewide owe a debt of gratitude to Chief of Staff and numbers crunching expert Jay Flanders. 
Give the man a raise!
As for the close races, take these three.  In District 9, Republican Andy Sanborn topped Lee Nyquist by 253 votes, 50.4-49.6 percent (15,478-15225, recount requested).
Republican David Boutin hung on in District 16 (Manchester North/Hooksett) by only 396 votes against Kathleen "Still Looking for Parked Cars To Crash Into" Kelley, (50.7-49.3 percent, 13,876-13,480 votes).
And most significantly, remember how I mentioned earlier in the year how District 6 became much more Republican when it lost Somersworth and was replaced by towns including highly Republican Alton.  Well, Republican Sam Cataldo won the district by 633 votes, 51.3-48.7 percent over Richard Leonard (12,760-12,127). 
Guess what?  Cataldo carried Alton 1965-1172.  That's 793 votes, more than he won overall.  Without redistricting, Cataldo (it was Fenton Groen's district at the time) most likely would not have won.
Without the gerrymandered districts (perfectly legal), Democrats most likely would have lead 14-10, not trailed 13-11 in Senate districts.
Just the facts, maam, just the facts.
It goes on and one, but I trust you get the gist.  If you don't take my word for it (and of course you do), you can run the numbers yourself; they're all up on the Secretary of State's web site.  In fact, verification would be nice!

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