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Did the end of gerrymandering lead to Democrats’ historic win?

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The background: A lot of folks are talking about redistricting and Michigan’s new, independently drawn maps as a reason for Michigan Democrats winning control last week of the state House and state Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The question: How much of a role did Michigan’s Independent Redistricting Commission and the ending of gerrymandering have on last Tuesday’s results?

The answer: “Redistricting was a necessary but insufficient condition for Democrats to win,” says Matt Grossmann, Michigan State University Political Science Professor. The fact is, Grossmann notes, “the Redistricting Commission drew maps that favored the winner of the statewide vote… Democrats still had to win the statewide vote and that was not automatic.” Michigan voters approved the Independent Redistricting Commission in 2018 and this is the first time the new maps were in play. For supporters of Voters Not Politicians, Grossmann says, “Certainly people who voted for a change to the redistricting process to make the maps more fair… would be satisfied with the results because they favored the winner of more votes statewide in each chamber.”

The takeaway: Looking ahead to 2024, it’s still all about getting voters to actually turnout. “We do know from the maps that the parties really have to aim to get more votes statewide… That means we’ll have competitive elections as long as the Republican and Democrats are at rough parity statewide - which seems fairly safe to assume in the next election.”

For the first time in nearly forty years both chambers of the Michigan Legislature - the state House and state Senate - will be controlled by Democrats.

Want more Michigan politics?

Looking for more about Democrats controlling Lansing post-Election 2022? Take a listen to my interviewwith Michigan Speaker of the House-elect Joe Tate (D-Detroit). We talked about his policy proposals and priorities for a new Legislature term where Democrats are running the show.

Want even more? That same hour, I spoke with Republican strategist Jason Roe (he’s also the former Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party) and The Atlantic writer Tim Alberta, author of American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump (he might just know Republicans more than they know themselves) about how the Michigan GOP moves forward after such big loses at the polls.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
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