The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Think Congress has a gerrymandering problem? It has nothing on Georgia.

Poll worker Martha Bolden hands out stickers during early voting at a polling station at the South Dekalb Mall in Decatur, Ga., in October. (Erik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency)
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Want to know how badly gerrymandered American politics is?

Take a look at the Georgia general assembly. There are 236 seats in both the state House and the state Senate. Precisely three of those 236 seats are held by people who aren't in the same party as the presidential candidate who won the district in 2012.

The lone exceptions are the in state House, where three non-Democrats represent districts that President Obama won. Republican state Reps. Gerald E. Greene and Joyce Chandler and independent state Rep. Rusty Kidd are the exceptions. Kidd's district went for Obama by a hair, while Chandler's went for him by two percentage points, according to data shared with The Fix by the election reform group FairVote.

But really, it's not that surprising. In the state Senate, where there are precisely zero crossover districts, the most Democrat-friendly district held by Republicans went more than seven points (53 percent to 46 percent) for Mitt Romney, and the most Republican-friendly district held by Democrats went nearly 17 points for Obama (!), 58 percent to 41 percent.

In other words, there is no state Senate district that went between 46 percent and 57 percent for Obama. There are really no swing districts, per se.

In the state House, the gerrymander can't be quite as strong. But still, just 10 of the 180 districts were decided by single digits in the 2012 presidential race, and just five were decided by fewer than five points. That's basically 3 percent of districts that are genuinely competitive.

To be fair, some of this is how polarized Americans are in general, but they aren't that polarized. And the numbers show how much more gerrymandered a state can be than Congress is (in large part because states don't have to contend with the boundaries of 50 states and thus have fewer constraints).

Congress is pretty good at gerrymandering, to be sure. Just 26 Republicans are in districts that Obama won in 2012, while just five Democrats hold districts carried by Romney. But that's nothing compared to Georgia's state legislature.

While just 1.2 percent of the Georgia assembly seats feature such crossover seats, the U.S. House is a battleground by comparison, at 7.2 percent.