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Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  827 ratings  ·  194 reviews

The explosive account of how Republican legislators and political operatives fundamentally rigged our American democracy through redistricting.


With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chri
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Kindle Edition, 269 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Liveright Publishing Corporation/W. W. Norton & Company (first published June 2016)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  827 ratings  ·  194 reviews


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Christy
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody knows demographics are numbers about people (demos) but the field is far from beneign - those numbers are used to control people - to label, to sort, to literally and figuratively divide and conquer.

I'm not sure why we all didn't read this book when it came out, because I knew of it and was stupidly distracted with more "ballot box" issues of how the Voter's Rights Act of '65 was gutted and un-/under-enforced, both. However, some recent Washington Post attention pulled me back to Burke
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Trish
This book infuriated me but also lowered the decibel level of my political retorts. I can clearly see now the utter cynicism with which Republican strategists set about grabbing as many seats as they could with the intent to hold onto them for a decade or more by controlling the redistricting process. “When you have power you exercise it.” The gerrymander is the reason Blue states can appear to vote Red. What is so pitiful is that we can still hear voters talking about what they believe like it ...more
Zach
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sports analogy:

I root for the Cubs. You know what that's like. Rooting for the Cubs taught me that everything is losing, that even winning will just lead to more painful losing, that finding a few shoots of light through the clouds just means the rain is delayed. That the pain is coming, that it's going to hurt more and then less and then double or triple and then scab and then fester.

This transfers to being a Democrat.

I had Slick Willy, sure, but his behavior(s) in office was so repulsive to m
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George Nap
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book pissed me off, I mean really aggravated me. I actually almost stopped reading during the introduction and first chapter. But I decided the issue was too important to not understand it better. Understand what happened, how it happened and what can be done about it.

Redistricting is not a sexy issue and not an issue with immediate consequences, but it is the absolute bedrock of our political system. And it was left unguarded, unguarded by a gentleman's agreement which lasted until one par
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Peter Mcloughlin
Story that has been going on since Obama took office. Basically Republicans no longer could command a majority and resorted to Gerrymandering districts to stay in power. They achieved this by taking statehouses. Dems are lazy and don't vote in off year elections anyway. They then redrew the election map to protect their power. Essentially that is what ratf""king is political sabotage of the majority their dirty tricks.
Judie
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The graphics on the inside covers of RAT F**KED are not Rorschach drawings. They are the actual congressional or legislative districts in several US states as determined by their GOP- controlled state legislatures. They help explain why Congress and many statehouses have GOP majorities even though the numbers of Democrats in those states are higher than or almost equal to the number of Republicans. As the book says at the end, “The House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber most res ...more
Jay
Scary and disheartening. Should be required reading for all Democratic lawmakers whose feckless and smug complacency contributed mightily to this sorry state of affairs. "It can't happen here?" It already has. Thank you, the five "justices" who gave us "Citizens United". I'll have more to say in a revised review, but right now I need to go shine my jackboots.
Paulatics
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even knowing as much as I do about redistricting, I learned so much more. The GOP's "Red Map" program is a technological and diabolical system of drawing districts to maintain their majorities and keep them for generations. When lawmakers pick their voters instead of voters picking their legislators, then our democracy is in great peril.

The chapter on North Carolina was of particular interest to me because that's where I live and where I am politically involved. I was there. I watched it happen
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Pat
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to read this book post-2016 election, as it was written before that. Had I read it in advance of November, I'd have found no suspense as the returns rolled in. Daley did an excellent job of explaining gerrymandering, giving a bit of history and a sharing lot of foresight into where we likely will be stuck for the next several years. The state-by-state rundown got a little tiresome and redundant about mid-way through, but it worked to paint the full picture of the ratf**cking in all i ...more
Matthew
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read. If you read Chapter 7 and aren't ready to fight for redistricting and electoral reform, than you don't want a democracy or a representative republic.
Alexis
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for anyone who wants to understand our current political gridlock, how characters like Trump have burst onto the scene and how the Republican Party moves further to the right while the majority of America is diverse, wants gun control, and supports Planned Parenthood. The answer: gerrymandering.

Any Democratic Party person who talks only of getting out the vote is naive or ignoring the elephant in the room (no pun intended). We need to put an end to gerrymandering by not letting parti
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Crabby McGrouchpants
You won't believe this book's thesis.

He details some stuff at the end that's worth doing until 2020, but, until then, the majority's the Republicans' for the duration.

REDMAP's a really, really neat idea that no-one thought of 'till recently. True to form, the Democrats refused to stoop/didn't anticipate the threat/can console themselves with Republicans' chanting "hey, either side gets to win if they manage it!" like there's no such thing as dirty pool, and it's as free open and unfettered compe
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Tony
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC.

Are you a political junkie? If so, this book is for you. Are you a person who votes in Presidential elections but does not give two sh!ts about the off year and off month elections? This book is for you. Are you a person? This book is for you.
RatF**ked is a term that means to be politically sabotaged. On the surface, the term RatF**k is pretty awful. It is awful because this book is about awful things that are politically motivated and totally legal.
Kick in th
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Elizabeth
In 2008, a Republican lobbyist realized that by turning just a few key state house and senate seats in 2010, the Republicans would control the legislative redistricting that would follow the 2010 Census.
In other words, for a relatively small chunk of change forces outside states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, were able to give those states the ability to create congressional seats that would deliberately provide a big majority of Republican held seats in the House of Representatives eve
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Michelle Keill
This depressed me so much and I'm not even American. It's quite a dry topic - redistricting - but an essential one for anyone who wants their vote to count. And who doesn't? There's also a good documentary on Netflix, in which David Daley features, that supplements this book nicely.

Towards the end of the book Daley breaks away from an examination of the districts in various states (Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, etc.) and talks about what can be done to level the playing field so to make each vot
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Nelson Minar
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic detailed book, essential reading to understand US politics of 2010 to now and where the fight will be in 2020. The New Yorker review is a good summary / encouragement to read the whole book.
Billie Pritchett
My biggest criticism of David Daley's Ratf**ked: How the Democrats Won the Presidency But Lost America is not so much with the information conveyed but rather with the structure and presentation. Regarding the information, Daley does an excellent job exposing the way in which Republicans have gerrymandered state districts in order to achieve overwhelming majority seats per state in the House of Representatives. The book is, however, structured in one of my least favorite ways to tell a story.

Wha
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Thomas Ray
Mar 11, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detailed-reviews
By Iowa law, districts are not drawn to favor or disadvantage any party, incumbent, candidate, or constituency. Iowa districting is done by nonpartisan agencies and commissions.

That’s where fairness begins. And for Iowa, it can end there. But remember that Iowa is a state of four Congressional districts, its most populous county has 430,000 population; Iowa is 91% white, there is no possibility of creating a minority-majority legislative district anywhere in Iowa. For a state with larger, blacke
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Steve
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK Daley, I'm convinced. Partisan gerrymandering is the most overlooked and underrated problem in American politics. The book was originally published in 2016 before Trump's surprising electoral college victory, but Daley wrote a lengthy and helpful epilogue that connects the dots from gerrymandered statehouse races (a number of states where the Democrats won more votes but fewer seats) to state voter suppression laws to Trump eking out an 88,000-vote win across three crucial states. In fact, if ...more
Pamela Huxtable
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Think you live in a representational democracy? Think you choose your representatives? Think again. GOP gerrymandering in 2010 means we will have a tyranny of the minority for at least the next decade, where the politicians choose the voters, not the other way around.

The gleeful cynicism and outright theft of democracy by the REDMAP plan should have all Americans, regardless of party, outraged.

Thoroughly depressing.
Karen Kolus
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well that made for a depressing Thanksgiving... It's important to know what's going on, though. This explains what's happened to our country in the last few years, why the people don't seem to be driving the government, why we have no power against it -- should we even be against our own government... The statistics bear out that through redistricting and other manipulations of the system, those in power are motivated to stay in power regardless of what the people want. This suppresses the vote ...more
Larry Peña
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want a book to make you happy, don't read this one (assuming you're not a win-at-all-costs Republican political operative). If you want to read a piece of well-written and well-researched piece of investigative journalism that will fascinate you, make you angry and fire you up about the democratic process, this is the book for you.
Ulf Kastner
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gerrymandering does appear to have reached epidemic proportions and disproportional influence over what strikes me as an increasingly byzantine and anachronistic system of political representation that is all too vulnerable to whoever happens to wield the most focused, organized, ruthless and not to mention shameless force of democratic entropy.
Leahbh
This was hard to take and reading it is no antidote to the environment we endure today, where a radical minority rules with impunity over a majority that is not in agreement with their policies. But do you want to understand how this inedible sausage was made? You know and understand some parts of this story, already, but here it is, all the gory details, chapter and verse - Ratf**ked.
Shauna
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every American needs to read this. This is an Important book for democracy. I think this book has probably changed my mind on who to vote for to ensure the outcome that I see as imperative. Wow. This is an amazing book, definitely slow in parts, but so important.
Dave Kaphammer
A dire story of how messed up our political situation is, and rings true. Yikes. We should all know about this.
Skyler
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hate the title. but everyone needs to read this book. fuh real.
Jill
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has made it clearer than ever that the US elections of 2020 will be among the most important of a generation. Not only because it is a presidential election year, but because of the census. In most states, those that control state legislatures and governorships in 2021 will be in charge of drawing the maps on political districts for the next decade. When republicans gained control in 2010, they designed the district maps. This made it possible for them to control a much higher percenta ...more
Richard
This is a sobering read. If Daley is correct about the effectiveness of Republican gerrymandering after the 2010 census/redistricting/midterm elections, I am fearful that Democrats (and therefore Progressives) will have to wander the political wilderness far longer than hoped. 2018 is no slam dunk for Democrats - despite Donald Trump’s abysmal approval rating.

Historically the party out of the White House tends to win big in off year elections but Daley makes a strong case that the Republican ca
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Susan Bazzett-Griffith
3 stars, but rounded to 4 because people should read this, no matter how painful. Keeping this review short and sweet-- This book is probably the most depressing thing I've read all year (and I read the novel about the 6 year old school shooting survivor last month), and its also about a topic that I (along with majority of America) finds mind-numbingly dull: gerrymandering. That said, as unexciting a political topic as it is, its completely fucked us all and understanding it is important, even ...more
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InSpiteOfTrump Bo...: March/April Book Club - Ratf**ked by David Daley 2 9 Mar 28, 2017 09:51AM  
  • When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics
  • Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America
  • Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics
  • Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond
  • Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency
  • Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America
  • Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United
  • Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party
  • Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society
  • The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy
  • The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism
  • The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time
  • Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't
  • The Great Divergence
  • Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
  • What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News
  • The Fight to Vote
  • America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts
“REDMAP locked in control of half of Congress until at least 2020—or until Democrats can theoretically beat Republicans on the newly drawn maps. What would that take? David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report is one of the smartest analysts of state races and redistricting. According to his study, the maps have become so tilted that to retake the House of Representatives, “Democrats would need to win the national popular vote by between six and seven points in order to win the barest possible House majority.” As Rolling Stone observed, that would require “100 Democratic voters to turn out for every 94 Republicans.” O” 1 likes
“Donations that would be a mere drop in the bucket to a presidential or Senate candidate might make all the difference at the local level.” 1 likes
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