Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Many experts believe gerrymandering is a big reason why incumbents almost always get elected, but one local expert says that's not the only reason.
Jonathan Chausofsky of SUNY Fredonia says incumbents have other advantages in addition to gerrymandering. "They have franking privileges, they have better media recognizability. Most people don't know much about their congresspeople and they recognize the name and that's usually enough to get them far," says Chausofsky. He says gerrymandering is part of that because parties can pick their districts, or "the politicians select the voters."
One way politicans select the voters is through a process called "crack and pack." "Do you want to pack the voters of your sort in the same district, or do you want to break them up a bit more? For the party''s strategy, you want to have it spread out to maximize the total number of seats. For the individual, they want as many voters in their district as possible," explains Chausofsky.
He says anyone who tries to get elected needs good organziation and contacts, as well as the ability to raise more money than ever before. That's why a wealthy person can get an edge on an incumbent, says Chausofsky. Same for someone with name recognition established already.
He notes in Congress, incumbents are re-elected roughly 90 percent of the time.