Land O Links

*Home-court advantage is a perennial topic of conversation in college basketball, but Michigan Republicans have to be congratulated – or pilloried – in how they have created a huge advantage for themselves in congressional elections. As this Bloomberg visual details, Michigan Republicans win by losing.

Even though they gained only just under 46 percent of the vote in congressional races in 2012, they took 64 percent of the seats (9 of 14).

The GOP didn’t do it without an ally, though: demography. “‘The dirty little secret is that redistricting only explains part of polarization,’ Wasserman said. ‘Congressional districts are polarized partly because Americans have polarized with their feet. It makes it easier for partisan line drawers to draw those lines.’”

Does anyone do it differently/better?  Well, California may be a possibility: "From 2002 to 2010, the partisan re-election rate for California House seats was 99.6 percent. Only once in 265 House races in general elections during those years did a district’s representation flip parties, going from Republican to Democratic. That stability ended last year after California (STOCA1) voters in 2010 gave a citizen’s panel the power to redraw the House districts. The impact, combined with a new primary system, was immediate. One out of four of the state’s 53 congressional incumbents departed through retirements or defeats in the 2012 primaries and elections. …

“Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit and a Democratic voting rights advocate, agreed. ‘The only real solution’ to decreasing congressional polarization is for states to create “an independent redistricting commission that has the power to not only draw the map but enact it as well,’ Benson said.”

*A noticeable difference of opinion:

"We believe Medicaid expansion can make a significant difference in the cost of health insurance for small business,” says Rob Fowler, head of the Small Business Association of Michigan in a new video campaign for Medicaid expansion.

Yet last Wednesday, a House subcommittee voted not to include Medicaid expansion in its plans. Gov. Rick Snyder had been counting on $181.7 million for his budget from the expansion, which the federal government will finance to the tune of $1.5 billion.

*Another map. Matt Yglesias details how the minimum wage is no way to finance your housing – and how states that push up the minimum wage aren’t necessarily the best housing markets for low-income families:

“(O)ne broad pattern that emerges is a fairly damning portrait of liberal state governance in action. More liberal states typically have higher minimum wages, but it's not generally the case that liberal states have a better housing affordability picture for low-wage workers. The least-affordable states — New York, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., California, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire — are a very disproportionately blue bunch. And the problem is that the impact of high regulatory minimum wages in many of these states is swamped by the impact of excessive restrictions on housing supply.”

8A sweeping U.S. Supreme Court ruling is about the only thing that would change current Michigan law when it comes to same-sex marriage. In 2004, Michigan voters easily approved Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage that was written in a way to block civil unions as well.

Almost six in 10 Michigan voters backed Prop 2, which passed in 81 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Last year, though, a poll found that 70% of Michigan voters believe gay couples should either be allowed to marry or form civil unions.”

Have attitudes in Michigan changed so fundamentally so rapidly?

*Use of food stamps has surged across the nation in the 21st century, as detailed in this Washington Post map.

Michigan, however, is on a more positive swing on food aid. As shown in the most recent federal stats (from December 2012), Michigan’s food aid population is down nearly 3 percent from the same month in 2011. Still, only seven states (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Texas) have more people on federal food aid than Michigan.

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