The head of the committee to elect House Republicans admits that gerrymandering is keeping them all in their jobs.
House Republicans know they are facing a massive wave of public opposition, with cratering polls and a flurry of powerful incumbents fleeing office.
And yet Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, still believes the party is capable of holding onto its House majority, for one reason: gerrymandering.
Republicans ran a coordinated effort to rig districts in Congress and state houses after the 2010 elections, packing together Democratic voters in few districts and spreading GOP voters out over several. As a result, Republicans have won far more seats in Congress than the popular vote actually dictated.
In an interview on Politicos “Off Message” podcast, Stivers admits the public is furious with Donald Trump, and that ordinarily, Trump would be a drag in most competitive districts.
But Stivers couldn’t actually name a single battleground district where he’d want Trump to campaign. And in any case, Republicans can still retain their majority, and they have gerrymandering to thank for that.
“I think it starts with the congressional lines,” said Stivers.
When asked whether that proves they rigged elections, Stivers was evasive. “You can say that, but the people elected them,” he said, completely contradicting his admission that district lines matter at all.
The recent spate of court battles proves just how much this issue matters. A series of federal court rulings have come down against North Carolina Republicans for illegally trying to reduce the number of majority-black and majority-Democratic districts, while the Supreme Court is considering another case out of Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the state courts just voided Pennsylvanias GOP-drawn map, and Republicans there are frantically trying to make the Supreme Court intervene on the preposterous assertion that undoing gerrymandering would be inconvenient for their campaign donors.
But the truth is, unlike Republican leadership, voters do not see this as a partisan issue. Polls show even GOP voters in North Carolina want gerrymandering to end. Everyone suffers when the maps are rigged, because it means politicians do not have to really compete, and often it makes it harder for them to provide constituent services.
Stivers may see this as just another way to win elections. The American people see it as a way to wreck democracy.