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Published 2002 | public

Elbridge Gerry's Salamander: The Electoral Consequences of the Reapportionment Revolution


[Preface] Elbridge Gerry was governor of Massachusetts from 1810 to 1812. During his term, his party produced an artful electoral map intended to maximize the number of seats it could eke out of its expected vote share. Contemporary observers latched onto one district in particular, in the shape of a salamander, and pronounced it a Gerry-mander. This book is about a unique episode in the long history of American gerrymandering – the Supreme Court's landmark reapportionment decisions in the early 1960s and their electoral consequences. The dramatis personae of our story are the state politicians who drew congressional district lines, the judges on the courts supervising their handiwork, and the candidates competing for congressional office. The plot of our story concerns the strategic adaptation of these actors to the new electoral playing field created by the Court's decisions.

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August 19, 2023
October 26, 2023