In a guest column in last Sunday's newspaper, "Oppose Iowa model for maps," Sen. Mary Lazich argued against the creation of a nonpartisan body to guide redistricting in Wisconsin.
But her claims are not supported even by the numbers she cites. She stated nonpartisan redistricting will not generate a more competitive electoral environment, pointing out this approach in Iowa resulted in 17 of 100 elections within 5 percentage points in the most recent election, while the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported 15 of the 99 Wisconsin Assembly races as competitive.
But this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Using the standard of races where the winner and loser were separated by 5 percentage points or less, Wisconsin had only 11 competitive races, compared to Iowa's 17.
If we use the standard of the number of races where both candidates were within 5 percent of 50 percent, Wisconsin does indeed have 15 competitive races -- but Iowa has 26.
The numbers are therefore the opposite of what Sen. Lazich claimed, and consistent with the idea that the Iowa model will aid competitiveness in Wisconsin.
-- Logan Vidal and Barry Burden, Department of Political Science, UW-Madison