The Zigzag Art of Politics

Mapping seats with crazy lines and partisan colors

As head of the Democratic congressional delegation in California, Phil Burton of San Francisco was in charge of drawing new boundaries for the state's congressional districts. All last summer he and aides pored over computer printouts of voting patterns. When Congressman Burton finally unveiled his plan, it seemed a model of fairness: population figures for each of the 45 districts were remarkably equal, and few county and city lines were violated. The plan was quickly pushed through the Democratic-controlled state legislature, and Democratic Governor Jerry...

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