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Optimal Gerrymandering: Sometimes Pack, but Never Crack

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  • John N. Friedman
  • Richard T. Holden

Abstract

Standard intuitions for optimal gerrymandering involve concentrating one's extreme opponents in "unwinnable" districts ("packing") and spreading one's supporters evenly over "winnable" districts ("cracking"). These intuitions come from models with either no uncertainty about voter preferences or only two voter types. In contrast, we characterize the solution to a problem in which a gerrymanderer observes a noisy signal of voter preferences from a continuous distribution and creates N districts of equal size to maximize the expected number of districts she wins. Under mild regularity conditions, we show that cracking is never optimal—one's most ardent supporters should be grouped together. Moreover, for sufficiently precise signals, the optimal solution involves creating a district that matches extreme "Republicans" with extreme "Democrats," and then continuing to match toward the center of the signal distribution. (JEL D72)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 113-44

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:1:p:113-44

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.1.113
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Cited by:
  1. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Faruk Gul, 2007. "Strategic Redistricting," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000351, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Justin Svec & James Hamilton, 2013. "Endogenous Voting Weights for Elected Representatives and Redistricting," Working Papers 1307, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  3. Puppe, Clemens & Tasnádi, Attila, 2014. "Axiomatic districting," Corvinus Economics Working Papers (CEWP) 2014/01, Corvinus University of Budapest.
  4. Ebonya L. Washington, 2011. "Do Majority Black Districts Limit Blacks’ Representation? The Case of the 1990 Redistricting," NBER Working Papers 17099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Coate, Stephen & Knight, Brian, 2007. "Socially Optimal Districting: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration," Working Papers 07-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  6. Puppe, Clemens & Tasnádi, Attila, 2009. "Optimal redistricting under geographical constraints: Why "pack and crack" does not work," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 93-96, October.
  7. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2007. "Competitive Redistricting," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000748, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. repec:lan:wpaper:616564 is not listed on IDEAS

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