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The Associated Press scrutinized the election outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly races past year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage created to detect potential political gerrymandering.

That analysis looked only at U.S. House races, while the AP analysis also includes state legislative elections.

The Associated Press used a new mathematical formula called the "efficiency gap" to measure whether gerrymandering - drawing political districts in ways that favor their own interests - has helped a political party enlarge its power.

Republicans have controlled the Idaho Legislature for almost six decades, but a national Associated Press analysis shows that the state GOP may have gained even more control last fall with the help of Republican-friendly districts.

In a recent case challenging North Carolina's congressional districts, political scientist Simon Jackman suggested that an initial election efficiency gap of at least 7.5 percent in a state with more than 15 U.S. House districts should attract scrutiny.

The AP also calculated efficiency gap scores for U.S. House elections, translating those into estimates of extra seats won because of partisan advantages. New Hampshire has only two districts, both of which were won by Democrats. At the time, Democrats controlled the House while Republicans controlled the Senate.

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At the congressional level, Republicans earned 58.6 percent of the vote but won 77.8 percent of seats, more than 10 percent above expectations. That was especially true after the 2010 census, when new Republican majorities took control of the redistricting process. It cuts through three counties - and has three House seats, two held by Democrats.

The analysis examined the share of votes cast for Republican and Democratic candidates in each district and projected the expected number of seats each party would gain if districts were drawn so that neither party had an overall advantage.

"There's one answer for that, one word: gerrymander", said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Idaho has a 13 percent efficiency gap heavily favoring Republican congressional candidates.

The AP's analysis was based on a version of the "efficiency gap" formula developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The methodology has been cited as "corroborative evidence" in a ruling that Wisconsin Republicans engaged in unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering for state Assembly districts.

The national Republican State Leadership Committee, the force behind the party's surge in state legislative elections, attributes its victories to candidates who better represent their communities. Currently, the 11-person reapportionment panel consists of party leaders in both legislative chambers, three gubernatorial appointees and four by the Supreme Court chief justice.


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