After beating Marbut by 30 points in 2012, Dudik barely wins new district

The 2003-2013 electoral map divided Missoula into nine convenient house districts.

The 2003-2013 electoral map divided Missoula into nine convenient House districts.

As my mother clearly remembers, two weeks ago I used my column in the Missoula Independent to make light of the electoral prospects of one Gary Marbut, Missoula gun activist and candidate to represent the newly-drawn Montana House District 94. Marbut could not possibly win, I reasoned, since his opponent Kimberley Dudik beat him 67% to 33% in 2012. That was in HD 99, though. When the Montana Districting and Apportionment Committee redrew the lines last year, Dudik’s district lost the westside and downtown Missoula and picked up half of Frenchtown.1 The consequences of that redistricting are clear: Dudik won her 2014 contest against Marbut by a mere 29 votes, 50.43% to 49.57%. How we draw the lines matters. It might matter more than how we vote. I wrote about it in this week’s column in the Independent, and you should probably read it. Gerrymandering is boring, but it’s also one of the most important issues facing contemporary American democracy. Don’t worry: we’ll be back tomorrow with links to videos of people falling off of things.



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  1. Excellent post. I expected you to conjure a Republican plot, but you rightly note that gerrymandering is a technique for those in power to empower their supporters. Examining it with a partisan lens not as useful as democratic lens, because it is undemocratic no matter which party is in power.

    Though undemocratic, I’m not convinced it’s a top priority either. I frequently see gerrymandering blamed for safe Congressional seats that capture representatives by extremist voters, and certainly in specific cases it is, but there is an unavoidable trade off between the safety of an individual seat and maximizing the number of seats one party is elected from. If, by trying to win many seats you dilute the districts too much you transfer power to independent swing voters. If you then shut down their government as in 2013, well, you just gerrymandered for the Democrats. So of course redistricting should be accomplished by a third party in all states, but until then, gerrymandering is a red herring for better public outcomes.

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