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New study finds Indiana among the most gerrymandered states in the U.S.

A new academic study of Indiana’s 2011 redistricting, commissioned by the nonpartisan Women4ChangeIndiana and released Monday, has found “a very large pro-Republican bias” that is among the most extreme in the nation, according to the author, a nationally recognized expert on gerrymandering.

Women4ChangeIndiana, an Indianapolis-based group founded to “educate, equip and mobilize Hoosiers to create positive change for women,” released the report, titled “An Evaluation of the Partisan Bias in Indiana’s 2011 Congressional and State Legislative Districting Plan” by Christopher Warshaw, associate professor of political science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Warshaw has testified as an expert witness in court challenges to redistrictings enacted in other states.

In the 41-page report, Warshaw used 50 years of voting data to analyze the congressional and legislative districts drawn in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly.

His conclusions, as summarized at the end of the report:

• “Indiana’s 2011 districting plan had a very large pro-Republican bias. Based on a variety of metrics, the pro-Republican bias in Indiana’s congressional and state legislative districting plans is extremely large relative to other states.
• “The pro-Republican bias in Indiana’s plan cannot solely be a function of geography: Based on a variety of metrics, Indiana’s congressional and state legislative plans are much more pro-Republican than prior to the 2011 redistricting. Thus, the current Efficiency Gap in Indiana cannot solely be a product of geography.
• “The pro-Republican advantage in congressional and state legislative elections in Indiana causes Democratic voters whose votes are wasted to be effectively shut out of the political process in Congress. Due to the growing polarization in Congress, there is a large difference between the roll call voting behavior of Democrats and Republicans. In today’s Congress, a representative from one party increasingly does not represent the views of a constituent of the opposite party. Thus, Democratic voters whose votes are wasted are unlikely to see their preferences represented by policymakers.”

Among the metrics used in Warshaw’s analysis, according to an executive summary of the report,  is “the Efficiency Gap, which flags the effects of ‘packing and cracking”’ — concentrating or fragmenting opposition party voters for political purposes –“by comparing mathematically how efficiently each party converts its votes to seats. In a gerrymandered map, one party’s votes will yield legislative seats much more efficiently than the other’s.”

Women4Change also has commissioned Warshaw to analyze the new congressional and legislative districts to be redrawn by the General Assembly later this year. — The Indiana Citizen