How Fast Can You Put These Ridiculously Gerrymandered Congressional Districts Back Together?

A partnership of Slate and the New America Foundation.
Aug. 21 2013 5:30 AM

Can You Solve Slate’s Gerrymandering Jigsaw Puzzle?

Put the ridiculously gerrymandered congressional districts back together.

Districts in Iowa tend to be competitive due to strong laws against gerrymandering. By law, the nonpartisan state agency responsible for redistricting must draw districts that are square, rectangular, or hexagonal and match city and county boundaries as much as possible. The agency cannot consider voter registration records and previous election results in the process. In 2012, the state's four congressional seats were split evenly between the two parties, with no candidates winning more than 60 percent of the vote. Although Republican U.S. House candidates won about one-third of the vote in Maryland in 2012, they grabbed only one of the eight seats because Democratic state legislators had packed conservative voters into the 1st District and given the 2nd District, 3rd District, and 7th District pieces of the Baltimore area to make them safely Democratic. The 3rd District has been described as "a crazy quilt," "a blood spatter from a crime scene," and a "broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state." An Ohio State University political scientist said Ohio's adopted plan was "the most grotesque partisan gerrymander that I, as a political scientist, had ever seen." Although Obama beat Romney by two points, Republicans took 12 of the state's 16 House seats because the Republican-controlled state legislature had packed Democratic voters into the 3rd District, 9th District and 13th District. In what Real Clear Politics called the "Gerrymander of the Decade," Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania packed the 1st District, 2nd District, and 14th District with Democratic voters while drawing other districts to protect Republican candidates. Although Obama won Pennsylvania by 5 points in 2012, Republicans won 13 of the state's 18 U.S. House seats. Although Democratic House candidates in North Carolina received a majority of the vote, Republican candidates won nine of the state's 13 House seats because the Republican-controlled state legislature had packed the 1st District, 4th District, and 12th District with Democratic voters. A geographic analysis showed that the 12th District is the least compact congressional district in the country. Obama carried Michigan by nine points. Even so, Democratic House candidates, who themselves received a majority of the vote, only won five of the state's 14 seats. That's because the Republican-controlled state legislature packed as many Detroit-area Democrats as they could into the 13th District and 14th District. Democratic candidates in those districts each won more than 80 percent of the vote.

« »

The Gerrymander Quiz

Time on this Puzzle: 00:00

Complete!

You completed the puzzles in .

Average Slate reader time: Loading...

Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter

* Voting percentages in tooltips are the percentages of the total votes for Democratic and Republican candidates. Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives

Gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing congressional districts after a decadal census to favor one political party over the other, is getting a bad rap, especially after Republicans used it to maintain a majority in the House despite losing the majority vote in the last election. Sure, gerrymandering may be a way for parties to gain unfair political advantage at the cost of true democracy, but who doesn’t love the crazy congressional district shapes it makes? With a little imagination, Ohio’s 9th District isn’t just a place for the GOP to cram Democratic voters—it’s also a terrible serpent! Pennsylvania's 16th District is a flexing bodybuilder, Ohio’s 12th a loyal pup, and Maryland’s 3rd a “broken-winged pterodactyl.” With Slate’s gerrymandering jigsaw puzzle, gerrymandering is more exciting than ever. How fast can you put the pieces of the electorate back together?

Correction, Aug. 22, 2013: The text accompanying the Maryland puzzle in this interactive originally stated that Maryland has seven congressional districts. It has eight.


TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 19 2014 6:22 PM Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The Biggest Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.