Politics & Policy

Redistricting Explained: Science, Art and Skullduggery

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Every 10 years after the U.S Census is conducted, an upheaval in the electoral process takes place by redistricting (re-drawing legislative districts) and by gerrymandering (manipulating the boundaries of a constituency to favor a particular political party). Redistricting takes place in both the House of Representatives and state legislatures in the U.S government. Currently, Texas and Florida will gain more seats while California, New York and Ohio are expected to lose seats. The change would entail losing three congressional seats from states that President Biden won in 2020, potentially giving an advantage to Republicans heading into the midterm elections, who now need only five seats to take control.

In this seminar, USC Center for the Political Future (CPF) Co-Directors Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy discuss redistricting, who gets it done, whether the process is partisan and how the Voting Rights Acts plays a role into the drawing of districts. The panel features Benjamin Ginsberg, election lawyer and former national counsel for Bush-Cheney Presidential Campaigns; Christian Grose, associate professor of political science and policy at USC Dornsife and USC Price; Michael Li, senior counsel for democracy program at the NYU Brennan Center for Justice; and Gloria Molina, former LA County supervisor and California assemblywoman and Fall 2021 CPF fellow.

Who Will Benefit

– Young voters looking to know how redistricting takes place and its impact on elections
– Those hoping to understand how the once-a-decade U.S Census impacts electoral constituencies
– Policymakers seeking deeper insights into how Republicans and Democrats take advantage of redistricting and gerrymandering

About Our Featured Faculty

Robert “Bob” Shrum is the director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party,” by The Atlantic Monthly. He was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful campaigns for governor, successful campaigns for mayors in major American cities, and numerous campaigns for Congress and other statewide offices. His numerous clients included Edward Kennedy, Joe Biden, John Glenn, and Barbara Mikulski, David Dinkins and Tom Bradley — and John Kerry and Al Gore in their presidential races. Overseas his clients included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the British Labour Party, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Presidents of Colombia and Bolivia.

Gloria Molina, fall 2021 fellow at the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future (CPF), represented the L.A.’s First District on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for more than two decades. Growing up in the Pico Rivera area, she learned that eliminating unfair barriers is the best way to ensure equal opportunity. From founding East L.A.’s Comisión Femeníl Mexicana Nacional to serving in the Carter White House, that idea has driven her lifelong commitment to public service.

In 1982, Molina made history as the first Chicana elected to the California State Assembly. In this role, she combined passionate advocacy with formidable political skill to strengthen communities in the 56th Assembly District and statewide. In 1991, she became the first Latina to join the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where she was known as a fiscal watchdog committed to good government reforms, maintenance of the county’s public health care delivery system and quality-of-life issues — particularly for the one million county residents residing in the unincorporated areas.

Named as one of the Democratic Party’s “10 Rising Stars” by TIME magazine in 1996, Molina served as one of four Vice Chairs of the Democratic National Committee through 2004. During the 2000 Presidential Election, Molina was one of 15 top women leaders nationwide to be named as a possible vice-presidential candidate by the White House Project, a non-profit, non-partisan group dedicated to raising awareness of women’s leadership in American politics.

Mike Murphy is the co-director of the Center for the Political Future at USC. Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than 26 successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. His record in helping Republicans win Democratic states is unmatched by any other GOP consultant. Murphy has been called a “media master” by Fortune magazine, the GOP’s “hottest media consultant” by Newsweek, and the leader of a “new breed” of campaign consultants by Congressional Quarterly. He is a widely known political pundit, appearing frequently on NBC, CNN and NPR. Previously, he served as a regular on the Meet the Press political roundtable and wrote the “Murphy’s Law” column for TIME Magazine.