Monday, April 22, 2013

Gerrymandering is not all of the problem in Delaware: Libertarians, Greens, IPOD shut out by structural barriers

Jeff Raffel makes the point in today's WNJ that something is amiss with Delaware political re-districting:
In the 2012 election ... few seats in the Delaware General Assembly were competitively contested. All of the 21 seats in the Delaware Senate were up for election in 2012 but only two turned out to be very competitive, that is, with two candidates running where one received less than 55% of the vote. Indeed, 10 of 21 seats had only one major party candidate running (always the incumbent). In the Delaware House elections in 2012, 7 of 41 seats were competitive, with half the seats contested by only one major party candidate. Incumbents who ran for reelection were reelected.
Raffel rightly attributes partisan redistricting (read gerrymandering) as a major element in this Soviet-style outcome of constantly re-electing incumbents, although he does miss a couple of points.

Delaware is, in essence, a one-party state at this point.  In many districts it is now the primary that is heavily contested, not the general election (mostly resulting in a Democratic landslide in the general, except in a few selected--gerrymandered--districts).  There is little to be done about that until a competitive alternative to the Democrats emerges, because with supermajorities (or nearly so) in both houses, control of reform of such practices is safely in the hands of the party in power.

Meanwhile, as the DE GOP continues to crumble, and their candidates are lucky to hit 40% in statewide elections, we also note that Republicans are the leaders in trying to impose structural barriers on alternative party candidates.

Republicans backed anti-fusion legislation a few years back that prevented candidates from seeking multiple party nominations.

Republicans backed "sore loser" laws that prevent candidates from running in the general as a minor party candidate if defeated in a primary.

And this year Republicans are advancing the notion of a candidate poll tax in the form of mandatory background checks on all candidates; this will, of course, only serve to dissuade shoestring candidacies that would occur amongst IPOD, Green, or Libertarian candidates.

Democrats generally criticize but then ultimately support such increasing restrictions on minor parties because, quite frankly, they are happier with Republicans as their opponents than they would be with anybody else.

In the DE GOP they have a highly fractured opposition that runs perennially on a ticket of extreme social conservatism in a state that just ain't.

If the Green Party of Delaware was unshackled from some of the constraints of anti-competitive legislation, the Democrats might suddenly see themselves challenged on the left by candidates attacking their rampant corporatism or their failure to protect Delaware's environment.

If the Libertarian Party of Delaware could gain some traction, the Democrats might suddenly see themselves challenged by a fiscally conservative party that is strong on civil liberties and even stronger on social tolerance.

Both of these parties have their own internal issues that must be overcome as they attempt to put attractive candidates on the ballot, but it is important to note that thousands of Delaware voters are already selecting them--in 2012 all three minor parties [GPD, LPD, and IPOD] set records in terms of total votes received by their candidates.

The major onus, of course, is on these parties to recruit credible candidates, raise money, and earn voters attention, and that is a tough enough job without being continuously shackled by structural limitations to their ability to compete.


delacrat said...

"If the Green Party of Delaware was unshackled from some of the constraints of anti-competitive legislation, the Democrats might suddenly see themselves challenged on the left by candidates attacking their rampant corporatism..."

Interesting that you are taking the D party to task for "rampant corporatism" when the Delaware L party rhapsodized over Mike Katz' sponsorship of SB 100, a total repeal of the Delaware Corporate Income Tax !?

tom said...

Way to cite a post where you completely fail to justify your knee-jerk opposition to a bill that would significantly benefit Delawareans by giving them back about $150 Million that state is currently sucking from the economy in the form of higher prices & lower wages.

Anonymous said...

Here is more bloody shit.
Steve you are the master of talking out your arse.
of course Tom is bloody good at it also.