Arizona’s Unrepresentative Representatives

By Jake Brown

Anyone looking for proof that Arizona’s districts are gerrymandered need to look no further than this month’s election results. Republicans were incensed months ago that AIRC created districts helping the Democrats. Of course Democrats tried to argue that they were fair, but numbers don’t lie.

In Arizona a total of 2,015,330 votes were cast for either a Republican or a Democrat in the congressional races (CD07 did not have a Republican congressional candidate, so not including the Libertarian- the non-Democratic vote- helps the overall Democratic totals, but for simplicity we will only look at Ds and Rs). Of those votes, 1,102,513 were cast for a Republican and 912,817 were cast for a Democrat. Republicans received approximately 200,000 more votes than Democrats (189,696). That means that Republicans received 55% of the two party vote total.

So what does that mean? It means that if we were to completely randomly select voters to be in 9 districts across Arizona, we would have 9 Republican representing us. Yep, with 55 percent of over 2,000,000 people voting Republican there is an 83% chance that every single representative would be Republican if we randomly put voters in districts. Instead we have 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans. It means that a Republican vote in Arizona is worth less than a Democratic one because of how the districts are created.

Of course, we wouldn’t randomly put voters together because that would mean that we would have voters from Tempe, Tolleson, Tucson, and Tuba City all in the same district. However, even if you created 4 Democrat districts and 4 Republican districts, the chances of accidently creating a majority democratic delegation are less than 2%. There is almost a 99% chance that we would have 5 Republicans. The chance of having more Democrats than Republicans is outside what we would generally consider within the margin of error. The point? Having 5 Democrats representing Arizona would not occur by accident unless you were specifically creating the districts to make that outcome a possibility.

Soooooo, it means that in Arizona we are not being represented in Congress by people who believe like we do. We have allowed an unaccountable organization to decide that some amorphous idea like “competitive districts” is more important than having representatives that actually represent us. The Arizona “Independent” Redistricting Commission- gerrymandering at its worst.


For anyone that wants to see the raw numbers used (these were current as of Friday Nov. 16th) :

District Republican Democrat 3rd Party Percent R
CD1 112868 122216 0.480118
CD2 141771 143173 0.49754
CD3 60890 94634 0.391515
CD4 162345 68889 0.702081
CD5 177200 85690 0.674046
CD6 173359 93564 0.649472
CD7 97388 22163 0
CD8 166693 91455 0.645726
CD9 107387 115808 0.481135
Total 1102513 912817 0.547063

*there were other third party candidates, but I only put in 4rd party votes for CD07 because there was no Republican candidate



  1. This is awesome. It’s like Unskewed Polls Jr.! And we all know how well that worked out.

    “It means that if we were to completely randomly select voters to be in 9 districts across Arizona, we would have 9 Republican representing us.” That is some next level insanity. I mean, it’s right at the quantum level.

    “However, even if you created 4 Democrat districts and 4 Republican districts, the chances of accidently creating a majority democratic delegation are less than 2%.”

    Hi, I’m Jake Brown! I pull numbers out the air! I think I’m talking like I’m Nate Silver, but I’m really talking like Phil Silvers!

    “Soooooo, it means that in Arizona we are not being represented in Congress by people who believe like we do.”

    I actually live in CD9 and I’m quite happy with the representation. Here’s a hint: next time, don’t run candidates who can’t win, and needed millions of outside dollars just to be competetive.

  2. Klute,

    The math is pretty simple. If you have a district that votes 55 percent Republican, it will, ignoring other factors, end up with a Republican candidate about 99% of the time. You take that across 9 districts and the chances of 1 of them end up Democratic is about 17%. If you think my numbers are wrong please explain how. I gave you the raw data below.

    Of course you are right that the numbers I used ignored strengths of candidates, amount of money spent, etc. If I were Nate Silver I would have considered all of those outside factors, I would have been paid for writing this, and it would not be on Sonoran Alliance. As it is, the simple numbers show that either Republicans picked a number of horrible candidates, or the IRC helped out the Dems.

    If you don’t understand the numbers, let me explain it to you without them. If the majority of this state is either a Republican or a Republican leaning I, then the attempts of the IRC to create “competitive” districts is going to try to make the districts as a whole not as Republican as they really are. Does that make sense? Imagine a state with 80% Democrats (my worst nightmare). If they had 10 congressional reps, and I was trying to make the districts as competitive as possible (as in, that was my goal and I did not consider trying to make the reps match the state), then I would create 2 districts of 100% Democrats and 8 districts of much closer percentages. By including the “requirement” of creating competitive districts, we are asking the IRC to gerrymander. Make sense?

    I also live in CD09, and you are right that we did not field the strongest candidate. That said, the R choice was only rivaled in weakness by the D choice. Both parties picked candidates with serious issues and baggage. The fact that it was so close is not because of the millions spent by the Rs (it was equaled by millions spent by the Ds), it is because neither candidate was truly representative of the district.

    That said, both your subjective views and mine are not good indicators of what is truly going on.

  3. I’ll address your points, but let me start off with this one:

    “If you don’t understand the numbers, let me explain it to you without them. If the majority of this state is either a Republican or a Republican leaning…”

    Phoenix, which is primarily sliced up into CDs 6, 7, and 9 (and some of 5 if we want to get technical), is not Republican or Republican-leaning. It’s Democratic or Democratic-leaning. I can point to the mayoral election where Stanton trounced Gullett (and Gullett, a moderate Republican who crushed conservative Jennifer Wright), or I can point to the political affilation of city council members.

    So knowing that Phoenix, the largest population center of the state is Democratic or trending Democratic, it makes perfect sense that Pastor (so strong a force apparently that the Morrisey couldn’t even find a sacrifical lamb), Schweikert (who really is the pefect choice for the Paradise Valley/Scottsdale wannabe Phoenicians), and Sinema represent the city (and when you throw in Democratic-leaning Tempe and West Mesa), the populations are getting the represenation in that district (while Sinema’s positions line up closest to my own, I actually voted for Schapira in the primary, precisely because I thought the GOP would use Krysten’s off-the-cuff remarks as some “oh, I’m gettin’ the vapors” attack ad BS .

    Parker was NEVER a good candidate, his own track record within the GOP primary system showed his weakness, and when the filings are finalized, you’ll see that Sinema raised a lot more money within her own district than Parker did, and that Parker significantly spent more than Sinema. My girlfriend’s a registered independent, and before they were dumped in the recycling bin, we noticed how much more mail she was getting from Parker than Sinema. No of it persusive of course, because Parker’s politics don’t get with young urban professionals (hey, we’re a demographic!), which are making up more and more of CD9.

    More importantly, you’ll want to blame Ben Quayle who’s money advantage could have overwhelmed Sinema, but he was either too stupid, arrogant, or poorly-advised (thanks Uncle Karl!) to see the writing on the wall.

    CD2’s the key. McSally WAS a good candidate (light-years better than Private Pyle). If not for less than 3,000 votes, you would’ve had your majority. Barber still has a resevoir of good will, it was just the strength of the candidate’s good luck that carried him over.

    CD1… Paton’s one of those guys the establishment tries to ram down your throat (good ol’ Espresso Pundit tried that for years), but like Vernon Parker, the GOP bench, which should be strong, is just weak (who’s the next up-and-comer? Al Melvin? Andy Tobin? Please.) Mayor Smith from Mesa is good, but he’s all you’ve got.

    The Democratic Party in the state is going to be successful when the demographics in the state finally flip out of the Phoenix-Tucson orbits. Your 55% Republican number does not fit:



    That’s the number you should be looking at. If not for 68,000 votes out of 2.1 million cast, we’d be talking about Senator Carmona. That’s the number that should terrify you. Carmona outperformed Obama significantly.

    The next real big hump will be the next gubenatorial election. If the Democratic Party can get someone good (frankly, I’d be happy with Carmona getting a shot, but I’d also LOVE to see Mark Kelly run), and the GOP gets someone not as good (although I think Mayor Smith will be the one, and like I said, he’s good). you’re going to see Arizona’s percentages switch, and it will not be in your favor. Hell, even Sheriff Joe’s barely cracking 50%. That should terrify the GOP.

    Yes, the GOP is doing well in statewide elections. But also yes, those numbers are in decline. I’ve got reasons why I believe that’s happening, but I don’t concern troll. I want to see the GOP ride the bomb to the target, so to speak. Good luck with Robert Graham.

  4. We not only have the deliberate attempt by the IRC to turn Arizona Blue, but the Losertartians lost CD 9, they chose to help elected and admitted socialist/bi-sexual by running Jill. Maybe just maybe they will see what they did when they lose the rights they so fiercely try to protect.

  5. There are no surprises here. As soon as the “independent” 5th member of the IRC was exposed as a lifelong dimocrat, all thinking Arizonans knew the fix was in. That is when the sitting “R(?)” governor should have taken decisive action by firing her and demanding lawful representation on that commission. But, she didn’t.

    As soon as the illegal contract was let, to hire the obamao campaign to draw the maps and in total disregard for AZ law, all thinking Arizonans knew the fix was in. That is when the sitting AG, irrespective of claimed party affiliation, should have stepped up and started indicting people and had that illegal contract thrown our. But, he didn’t.

    Even after all that not doing anything, when the illegal process was pretty well cemented into place, the governor put on a show of finally firing the dimocrat “independent” but she didn’t really mean it. When the AZ Supremes (one of whom has just been retained in office) illegally stepped in to protect this conspiracy, the governor should have sent DPS over to clean out and lock that female’s office, preserving her documents for evidence. But, she didn’t.

    And that left it up to plain ol’ citizens, concerned for AZ & US, to file suits after-the-fact, suits that would never be able to impact the elections described here. Funny, I thought these politicians (gov & AG) were being elected to be elected representatives of the people of AZ. I guess that doesn’t apply to governors & AG’s, huh, nor AZ Supremes? And not one squeak from the McCainiacs. Go figure.

    God bless America.

    • Sgt. Flapjaw says

      Leo, you are correct about our Governor being duplicitous in the highjacking by the IRC. She sat by and watched as the criminal action unfolded. Her weak response at the end of the process was dereliction of her duty, and a stab in the back to the citizens of Arizona.
      Remember, she played the same game [along with others] with her cowardly actions in regards to 1070. She watched the polls and found that her career as Governor would end if she did not sign the bill. She also was the power behind the sales tax increase. We the voters showed her this last election by kicking butt on 204, as it had to stand for approval during a regular election year instead of cherry picking off year dates so that the Government Employees Unions could bring home the bacon.
      She is also working hard behind the scenes to run again. I say we have had enough of this weak and unreliable Governor.

  6. While the math, as presented, is correct, you are leaving out the growing number of independents in this state. Or rather you are assuming that they all skew republican every time, which is a massively bad assumption.

    There are more independents in arizona than democrats, and the REASON is that there are a lot of thinking arizonans who think that BOTH parties have their heads up their *sses. If you start TALKING to them, what you find are people who believe in smaller government and lower taxes, but who believe that smaller government means staying out of people’s bedrooms and uteruses [ie avoiding unnecessary regulation of ANYTHING, not just businesses] and who value getting things done as opposed to irrational ideological stalemate.

    I just don’t understand why it is so hard for republicans to see that their constant stamping their feet and saying “I don’t wanna” like a five year old might turn OFF that huge independent voting block. The entire country has been fed up with stalemate in washington, and a lot of independents swinging democrat this election is a result. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the issues of debt in this country cannot be addressed without addressing the issues of revenue, and that means raising taxes. Making any increase in taxes out to be the boogeyman is a great way to turn off thinking independents who are otherwise sympathetic.

    My point is this; in arizona politics you absolutely cannot ignore the power and voice of the independents. Republicans may have an advantage over democrats in registered voters, but so do independents and if we decide to vote democrat, there are enough of us to squash the republicans. Ignore independents at your own peril.

    • Sgt. Flapjaw says

      I have always considered the independents to be either single issue voters or non-idealogical having no core beliefs. You cannot be a former Repulican and be a supporter of the Democrat Party today, unless you were a bit clueless to begin with. You speak of the Republicans being, or wanting, to be in your bedroom, perhaps you are an abortion advocate or favor some other social issue and don’t devote too much time considering the future of everyone in this country, based on the total breakdown of the system.
      If you are trying to say that you voted, or someone else voted Democrat because of over regulating, there is no party ever in this country more regulation happy than the present day Democrat/Socialists.

    • Caitlin,

      You are correct that independents make up a large percentage of many districts. However, the numbers that I used here are not voter registration numbers, they are vote results. So 55% of people VOTED Republican. Hence, the results seem to suggest that the districts are skewed Democrat when 55% can vote Republican, but still have a delegation that is 55% Democrat. The facts show how unlikely that is when done randomly.

      You are right that both parties ignore independents at their own peril. They make up a huge percentage of the state.

  7. Does this also mean the districts were gerrymandered prior to the recent redistricting when R’s held a disproportionate number of seats using the methods the author of this article uses?

    • It does mean exactly that. In fact, that is my point with this post. When a legislature gerrymanders we can all see it and if we don’t like it we can try to vote them out. We could even recall them if we wanted to. However, the IRC was supposed to move us past gerrymandering. It was not supposed to be biased, instead it was meant to create districts that weren’t political. The point is that the IRC is biased and is political. It tries to create districts that are competitive, but mathmatically the only way to do that is to create districts that are less Republican than the state as a whole, and we end up with a 5-4 Democrat delegation.

      If we are going to have gerrymandering going on, I would prefer that it be done in the open like in the legislature, not in a process that is supposedly unbiased and apolitical.

      • Shorter version of jake: So long as it’s gerrymandered and works for my side, it’s ok.

        • More accurate version of Jake: Gerrymandering and voting systems is a real issue that can be addressed in a number of ways, but IRC is just another form of gerrymandering. If we want that, ok, but let’s not lie to ourselves about what it is.

  8. Wendy Rogers says

    Many readers will not like what I’m about to say, but I feel it must be said.

    We Republicans allowed ourselves to be out maneuvered in Redistricting As we all know, Congressional districts represent their respective voter makeup of their area, not the percentage of total party voters from their state. All three “open-seat” Arizona congressional districts (CD1, CD2, CD9) experienced relatively close congressional races. If one looks at the big picture, the fact that these three races WERE so close could imply these districts actually were fairly “balanced”. Just because Republicans lost all three races doesn’t necessarily mean the boundaries were flawed. If Republicans had won one, two, or three of these congressional district races, would Republicans be complaining? Probably not. As a congressional candidate, every time I was asked about how unfair Redistricting was, I would answer, “It is what it is. We’ll do the best with what we have and move forward.” When Republicans complain about that which we cannot change, honestly, we take two steps backward and lose focus, energy and momentum, and thus lose the fight. By complaining, we devolve into the very victimhood we loudly decry when proselytized by Democrats. Personally, it’s just not in my pragmatic DNA to operate that way.

    In the three close congressional district races, Republicans were out-performed. We did not turn out the Republican vote well enough. We did not meticulously and diligently seek out independents well enough. The fact that so many voters voted Libertarian in CD9 is testament to their not being messaged to effectively enough by Republicans. Finally, also as far as CD9 is concerned, with all due respect to the Republican candidate . . . purely and simply from an objective viewpoint, he was outworked and out-performed by a winsome, media-savvy, tech-savvy, fire-in-the-belly-inspired Democrat candidate who eked out her victory with a perceptibly disciplined, on-point, on-message campaign. From the pure mechanics of this, Republicans should regard it as instructive and learn from it.

    • Sgt. Flapjaw says

      Wendy, everything you say makes quite a bit of sense if we take a step back and consider that the ground troops [AKA Grassroots] were aware all along that the IRC was a rigged deal and that the people of Arizona were victimized by elected officials shirking their duty, our Governor in particular. That fact however, did not phase the troops other than realizing that we needed to work harder.
      If you look at the State Offices you will see that our candidates did very well overall, especially when you recognize the top of the ticket was weak and poorly advised.
      I am a resident of CD9 and worked the primaries against you, choosing one of the other candidates to join. I did come to respect your campaign and your retail method of spreading your message and congratulate you on your superior effort.
      All that said, I would point out that my LD18 candidates did decidedly better than the Congresstional and Senate canididates. The difference was the quality of the candidates including the top of the ticket, Romney. It was decided early on that the establishment would go their own way by endorsements from high powered pols and robo calls with some TV. Now flake won, but showed poorly, and we know that Parker lost, with Romney not doing nearly as well as he should have, we must conclude that the troops won the day where they could.
      If the Republicans need to learn a lesson, it should be to run at home, cut the consultants out of the decision making, and stay away from the favor brokers.

  9. With the proper leadership and plan, Republicans should be able to take back CD-1,2 & 9 in 2014. Our problem was our GOTV. We had good center-right candidates and the Democrats had extreme left candidates. There is no reason their voting records and a properly managed statewide GOTV effort cannot return these seats to Republicans. In fact, the work to do this should already be underway.

    • Sgt. Flapjaw says

      GOTV did not work as well as it could have for sure, but speaking from my LD18 experience only, the top of the ticket candidates were late to the party and were much more concerned with a myopic view. Our State Officials were in the game with us from the start of the general election to the finish.
      The local School Board, City Candidates, and others were there right out of the blocks. The weaker top of the ticket guys were to follow later, much later, hense did not get total, or any exposure from the eye to eye contact bergade that was in the neighborhoods.
      The list of reasons why GOTV did not work as well as it should have is reletively short and correctable as long as it gets done within a co ordinated effort. Major shortcomings in the final push to get out the vote on election day is unexcusable and never should have happened, but it did. We lacked the manpower at the polls [Generally supplied by the candiates] and data bases with the technology to use the data. That takes money, and perhaps cutting down on the annoying and useless robo calls and other ads and redirecting resourses would have been plenty much smarter. There are other issues and we at LD18 have met to discuss them and reorganize for the next election cycle, but there needs to be a wider discussion with perhaps more workers and less consultants in the room.
      Good discussion here at SA, thanks.

  10. The math is correct, but its application is wrong and the “logic’ behind that analysis reveals a fundamental failure to understand the American system of representation.

    First, if you accept the premise that more total votes in a state should mean a win of all seats, as argued by the original poster, then you must also agree that Congress should be 100-percent (D), as more (D) candidates got votes nationwide than did (R) candidates. If the original poster’s premise is correct, then “on average,” (D) should have won everything. They got the most votes.

    But wait, you retort, we want to do the totaling at the state level, that’s the right place to stop.

    Ahh, the sur-rebutal is simply this: you’re wrong. The place to stop is at the district. The House of Representatives, as envisioned by the founding fathers, was deliberately designed to NOT look at state totals. The whole point of the exercise is to have districts that ensure as attitudes and mores change between communities – for whatever reason – those communities will have a voice.

    The author’s position is either remarkably uninformed, or deliberately unAmerican.

    If you accept his positions, then you must also accept that the (D) should be in power in the House and that the founding fathers were fools who didn’t think through how our nation, this glorious nation that has survived so much, should be run.

    To his credit, the author does remind me of Paul Ryan in one regard; he’s what a smart person sounds like to dumb people.

  11. There is a simple solution — have a computer algorithm draw the districts based on population and draw them so that they are as convex as possible. Unfortunately, back in the 60’s, somebody here was trying to actively disenfranchise Hispanic voters, and we ended up with having our elections controlled by the federal government, via the voting rights act, so we have to ask the Feds for permission, and the districts have to be drawn so as to not dilute minority voter’s influence.

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