This setting lets you change the way you view articles. You can choose to have articles open in a dialog window, a new tab, or directly in the same window.
Open in Dialog
Open in New Tab
Open in same window

American Economic Review: Vol. 98 No. 1 (March 2008)


Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter


AER - All Issues

AER Forthcoming Articles

Optimal Gerrymandering: Sometimes Pack, but Never Crack

Article Citation

Friedman, John N., and Richard T. Holden. 2008. "Optimal Gerrymandering: Sometimes Pack, but Never Crack." American Economic Review, 98(1): 113-44.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.1.113


Standard intuitions for optimal gerrymandering involve concentrating one's extreme opponents in "unwinnable" districts ("packing") and spreading one's supporters evenly over "winnable" districts ("cracking"). These intuitions come from models with either no uncertainty about voter preferences or only two voter types. In contrast, we characterize the solution to a problem in which a gerrymanderer observes a noisy signal of voter preferences from a continuous distribution and creates N districts of equal size to maximize the expected number of districts she wins. Under mild regularity conditions, we show that cracking is never optimal—one's most ardent supporters should be grouped together. Moreover, for sufficiently precise signals, the optimal solution involves creating a district that matches extreme "Republicans" with extreme "Democrats," and then continuing to match toward the center of the signal distribution. (JEL D72)

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article


Friedman, John N. (U CA, Berkeley)
Holden, Richard T. (MIT)

JEL Classifications

D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

American Economic Review

Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)


AER - All Issues

AER - Forthcoming Articles

Virtual Field Journals

AEA Member Login:

AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us