DistrictMojo has created an interactive tool that identifies the most gerrymandered congressional districts and has an accompanying post on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gerrymandering“. They have also highlighted a number of particularly interesting gerrymanders. Their formula for identifying gerrymandered districts is a simply division of district perimeter by district area, which works well for the most part, although it does tend to flag coastal areas are gerrymandered when the district shape is more dependent on geography than an ulterior motive.
What the Deuce is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the practice of carving up representative districts in a…creative fashion to benefit one party or another. The early ideal for carving up our new nation into representative districts was relative compactness. In 1812 Elbridge Gerry (sounds like “jerry”), governor of Massachusetts, carved up his state into curious districts that would benefit his party, causing political commentators of the time to lampoon the districting as looking like a salamander. The Boston Gazette ran a cartoon of the “Gerrymander” and the rest is history. By the way, this original gerrymander seems to me pretty tame compared to some you are likely to see today.
Some of the more extreme examples of Gerrymandering: