FACT CHECK: 'Extreme MAGA Republicans' Took Back the House Through 'Unlawful' Gerrymandering

Verdict: Both parties gerrymander. Republicans had the votes.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
June 29, 2023

Claim: "Extreme MAGA Republicans secured a House majority based on unlawfully gerrymandered congressional maps."

Who said it: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) in a Monday tweet.

Context: Gerrymandering, the practice of drawing congressional districts for political reasons, is done by partisan leaders to tilt political power toward one party even when that party doesn't have the votes. Republicans won the national popular vote in the 2022 House elections by nearly 3 points, picking up 50.6 percent to Democrats' 47.8 percent.

The Democratic Party's own attempt last year to gerrymander districts in New York—where Jeffries represents the squiggly Eighth Congressional District—backfired when the courts threw out maps drawn by Democrats in the New York Legislature. The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, said the maps violated a set of anti-gerrymandering state constitutional amendments that passed in 2014. All judges on the state's Court of Appeals were appointed by Democrats, according to Ballotpedia.

Gerrymandering by Democrats last year would have given their party an advantage in 22 of 26 districts in the state, according to Politico, even though Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin pulled in 46.8 percent of the vote. Jeffries decried the ruling to throw out Democrat-drawn maps, saying the Court of Appeals had "hijacked" the redistricting process.

The court chose a neutral expert to draw the map. The new map split half as many counties as the Democratic map and created eight competitive races compared with the Democrats' three. With the politically neutral map, Republicans flipped four seats in New York.

Analysis: Both parties gerrymander. In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans had the votes to deliver the narrow majority they now enjoy. One major factor, however, was the failure by New York Democrats to deliver gerrymandered districts that could be accepted by the courts.

Ultimately, gerrymandering was not the key factor for Republicans to retake control of the House of Representatives.

Verdict: We rate this claim 4 Clintons.
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