How Academia Hijacked Redistricting for Democrats and the Media Helped Them Do It

Sam Wang of the Princeton Gerrymander Project

Unelected, unaccountable, partisan academics funded by deep-pocket Democrats faked data to manipulate redistricting processes to produce Democrat gerrymanders by posing as unbiased data scientists.

And they got journalists in on the game.

 

News broke this week about how Sam Wang of the purportedly unbiased, nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project (PGP) is being investigated for data manipulation to produce partisan gerrymanders for Democrats.

 

5 things to know about the Princeton Gerrymandering Project Data Manipulation Scandal:

  1. Director Sam Wang is being investigated for manipulating data to create partisan gerrymanders to favor democrats.
  2. The group is funded by deep-pocket Democrat donors, and the staff are democrat contributors much like the Zuckerberg-financed CTCL that infiltrated election activities across the country.
  3. Their fairness “data” is based partly on math, and partly on input volunteers and media to achieve “aspirational” partisan goals.
  4. Several states have involved PGP and their staff in drawing and selecting “fair” maps; based on data whistleblowers say was skewed to favor democrats. A PGP staffer who collaborated on multiple papers with Wang is now the lone ‘special master’ in charge of New York’s map, which observers say could dictate control of Congress.
  5. The mainstream media has unquestioningly accepted PGPs biased “grades” on state map proposals as unbiased gospel, even while helping put a thumb on the scales.

Sam Wang and Princeton: Gerrymandering Since 2017

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project was founded in 2017 by Samuel Wang, a neuroscientist specializing in the workings of the cerebellum, who said wanted to provide non-partisan analysis with the goal of eliminating partisan gerrymandering, state by state. PGP is funded by Princeton, by tax dollars, and by private donors who happen also to be deep-pocket Democrat donors.

In the intervening years, PGP has made a name for itself as an unbiased, non-partisan group of math geniuses working their pure little scientist’s hearts out to end gerrymandering.  The grades they give maps are used by the media – and largely accepted by the public – as unassailable gauges of fairness.

Their foothold has been become expansive; states and courts – up to and including SCOTUS – have collaborated with, referenced, hired employees of, and trusted PGP.  Here’s the problem:

The aptly named Princeton Gerrymandering Project isn’t unbiased, they’re not non-partisan, their math is faked and Wang has used the project to produce partisan gerrymanders to benefit Democrats.

Wang, a Democrat donor and loyal Democrat primary voter, is under investigation by Princeton – and has been under investigation while Princeton allowed him to continue working with states during crunch time for map implementation – for data manipulation to benefit Democrats, academic misconduct, Title IX discrimination violations, and toxic workplace charges including retaliation threats.

It’s no secret that these kinds of things can be well-tolerated and even covered up by academia, so long as the accused wrongdoer checks the right boxes: brings in big athletic bucks (Jerry Sandusky) or research funding, or accolades – even if the bad behavior leads to death (UW Madison student John Brady). The vaunted halls of academia have their own code of conduct, apparently based on Machiavelli.

Trust Wang, But Don’t Try to Verify Wang

Unsurprisingly, though under investigation for fraudulent data manipulation, Wang and PGP refuse to allow peer review of the secret algorithm he used to build his ‘fair’ maps because they say, it’s proprietary.  It’s far more likely the reason is that his algorithm can’t and won’t duplicate the manipulated partisan data he phonied-up, and that peer review would expose Wang and Princeton, though they didn’t mention that little problem.

Princeton Gerrymandering Project Impact

Wisconsin

In some states, like Wisconsin, Wang used the phony PGP math to give F grades to Republican maps, grades which were then widely used by the left and the media to bludgeon Republicans for having created the most unfair maps of all time and space.  PGP’s fake data was used by Sachin Chheda, Director of the Wisconsin Fair Elections Project, a navy-blue Democrat, as he bombasted his way through legislative committee testimony about how partisanship in map drawing hurts his soul.  Unless it helps his team.

This isn’t the only way Wang has slammed Wisconsin conservatives.  Wang wrote a 2021 paper in which he discusses the SCOTUS decision against extending voting in Wisconsin until 6 days after the election, references our December 2018 “lame duck” legislative session, calling our 2011 redistricting the “most egregious gerrymanders of all time” (PGP uses this hyperbolic language a LOT) and lamenting that the legislature did not delay the 2020 primary because of COVID-19. That’s a lot of Wisconsin angst for a paper not about Wisconsin.

While the impact of a constant barrage of news stories proclaiming Republican maps – legal, fair maps – as unfair and partisan based on ratings given by a partisan group pretending to be unbiased data scientists can’t possibly be overstated, in other states, Wang’s partisan impact was far greater.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, former Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, appointed by the current court to be an independent tie-breaker was advised by Wang, using PGP “data,” as he selected which map the state would use.  Wallace chose the Democrat’s map.

Wang had aggressively campaigned for the tie-breaker job himself, and after Wallace beat him out, insinuated himself into Wallace’s work, and PGP staff – violating confidentiality agreements – fed suggestions to Democrats.

According to Princeton staff Wang was feeding Wallace, a 78-year-old technophobe – dummied up data to push him to select the Democrat maps.

Even the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice called the maps, which lock in 9 Democrat and 2 Republican districts, leaving only one competitive, an egregious partisan gerrymander.

Predictably, when Republicans filed a complaint to toss the maps in February, based in part on factors including the breach of contract and the PGP’s partisan funding, it was tossed, and in media coverage it was called meritless and an attack on democracy.

Wang’s work in New Jersey is what blew up PGP. Princeton received complaints that Wang was deliberately manipulating data to achieve the outcome he wanted.  One source said:

“He’d fudge the numbers to get his way.  He had an agenda.  He was good at hiding it when he had to but it was clear Sam wanted Democrats to win and he was willing to cheat to make it happen.”

North Carolina

In mid-February, Wang was hired to help a panel of judges in North Carolina to work on their maps. Days later he was again illegally communicating with plaintiffs, multiple times.  A Republican suit to fire Wang and another ‘non-partisan’ data expert was denied.

At this point Wang was already under investigation by Princeton for data manipulation, though the school did nothing to remove him from work on map-drawing.

The maps in force in North Carolina were drawn by the 4-member team including Wang and the other expert who violated the confidentiality agreement.

Florida

Governor DeSantis signed the state’s congressional redistricting plan on April 21, 2022.  April 22, a host of groups including Black Voters Matter, the League of Women Voters, Eric Holder’s group and others filed a legal challenge.  Sam Wang is quoted in the complaint, saying the maps DeSantis signed would be “one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the country.’

Yesterday, with the news of Sam Wang’s data deceit splashed across the news, these plaintiffs  suddenly dropped their only six-day-old federal lawsuit.

New York

New York’s maps were thrown out April 27. Now the maps will be decided by a court-appointed “special master” who could, with the map drawn, decide control over the House of Representatives.  The special master?  Jonathan Cervas, a recent Research Associate for the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, and an Act Blue donor, who spent last spring co-teaching a class on redistricting and gerrymandering with his then-boss, Sam Wang.

Cervas’s work quotes from Wang extensively, and he worked on redistricting in Virginia, Tennessee, and is currently working as a consultant to the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission.

Pennsylvania

Wang and PGP had given the state’s new congressional map a C grade, but under pressure from a major donor, changed it to a B. Complaints about the ethics of this move by PGP staff resulted in threats of retaliation.

Princeton’s Scum-duggery

In January, the investigation of Wang was underway. Princeton’s HR manager emailed employees notifying employees that Wang was allowed to communicate with them only in writing and ccing HR and the dean for academic affairs on those emails.

In March, Princeton directed PGP and its employees to:

  • Stop entering into grant and gift arrangements to fund their work or related projects
  • Stop entering into agreements of any kind
  • Stop hiring any additional staff or interns
  • To rescind any offers that were made or accepted
  • To safeguard data and computer records

But what Princeton didn’t do was stop Wang from continuing to draw Democrat gerrymanders in states that were unaware of the serious charges levied by his team during this critical period where maps are decided across the nation.

Private Partisan Money to Achieve Partisan Goals – Just Like Zuckerbucks

PGP is funded by Princeton, tax dollars, and private donors, a few of which they list on their website.  Princeton, tellingly, has refused to turn over a full list of donors. Those listed:

  • Marylyn Simons heads the Simons foundation. She’s contributed about $11 million to Democrats including a quarter-million to the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee and three quarters of a million to the Biden campaign.  Marilyn’s husband James has made over $170 million in campaign contributions to Democrats.
  • Robert F. Johnston, a venture capitalist, and his wife Lynn have contributed hundreds of thousands to Democrats.
  • Billionaires Eric and Wendy Schmidt have contributed over $18 million to Democrat candidates.

The fact that the PGP is staffed by democrat donors, and funded by bigger democrat donors, is no surprise.  As we saw in the 2020 election cycle, the left has perfected the use of partisan activists, bankrolled by deep-pocket liberals, to gain control of everything from redistricting commissions to keys to ballot counting locations.  It’s the new normal.

Wisconsin was the epicenter for the influx of private money by partisan donors that allowed Democrat strategists to contractually control local election administration.  The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is a similar but ultimately more devious effort.

The Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) didn’t really bother to hide their partisan roots, they just insisted their efforts were altruistic attempts to prevent people from dying by making voting safe in the time of COVID.  PGP on the other hand, claims – claims hard –  to be unaffiliated, unbiased, non-partisan, data-driven scientists, thoroughly cloaking themselves in the irrational yet weirdly- and widely-accepted idea of academic impartiality.

Aspirational Fairness

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project – and really, can anyone help but wonder now if the name was deliberately chosen as an inside joke – says their primary measure for partisan fairness is “an aspirational view of fairness” that carries more weight than any of the objective measures they use.  Which may prove not to be objective at all.

PGP says they start with their aspirational fairness grade as a base for their report card grade.  So basically, they use their expertise in data to cheat, and to cloak the cheating in the vaunted robes of science, which is super-cool, because you get to achieve your own partisan goals while being praised as unbiased, and laugh up your sleeve at all morons who don’t know enough about math to catch you.  (The PGP website brags that the Supreme Court “acknowledged the validity of their math” which Wang seems to delight in mentioning in interviews.)

That worked, and it would have kept working, too.  In the end, the project’s partisan manipulation only became public because in addition to falsifying data, Wang is apparently a bully, and a colleagues who do know enough math to expose the lab, did.

Journalists Helped PGP Fake Fairness Scores

Blind, unquestioning acceptance by the media that the group is non-partisan and unbiased is key to PGP, and they enlist the media’s collaboration to ensure it.

PGP employee Zachariah Sippy, in an August 2021 post on the Princeton Election Consortium (PEC) website seeking volunteer help to provide oversight to beat back the NC (GOP) legislature’s maps, reveals a great deal about their work.

Sippy, a rank partisan who loves to write opinion pieces armchair strategizing for Democrat campaigns, was stunningly free in his explanations on the PEC site, emboldened no doubt by the unassailable nature of being an academic and true-believer ideals.

Sippy exposes part of the PGP “fair” scoring process.  To combat gerrymandering, Sippy says, PGPs robust algorithm that produces a million alternatives will not be enough! PGP scores using data but then adjusts the scores based on the “local expert knowledge” of volunteers and journalists they solicited and enlisted.  Obviously media in NC knew exactly what they were helping PGP to do.

To rewind that:  An algorithm powerful enough to come up with a million maps is nothing without the opinions of local journalists and volunteers. Bias trumps science.

Sippy also provides striking insight into how vitally important both manipulating and coordinating with the media is to PGP success in achieving more Democrat maps in states across the nation as he heaps praise on PGPs co-conspirators:

“Our efforts would not have been possible without the support of local journalists who worked tirelessly to make the public aware about the process.”

The efforts Sippy – a loyal Act Blue donor even when unemployed – was speaking of are expanded on by Sam Wang who lauded the new NC maps, which went from a 10/3 split favoring the GOP to a 8/5 split, saying: “Two-thirds of the partisan gerrymandered advantage is gone.  That’s mostly a win in my book.”

The Tyranny of Experts and Complicity of the Media

The left, and the media, mocks anyone who does not unquestioningly accept whatever any expert, academic or scientist (who agrees with the left’s position, of course) says.  Anyone who asks questions is immediately labeled a conspiracy theorist.

Trust the science, they say.  Even when the science is opinion and invention.

The left will no doubt eye-roll and minimize the PGP data manipulation scandal. To the left, if PGP faked numbers, it was all in the pursuit of fairness and besides, Republicans did it first and worst; if whistleblowing staff faced bullying or discrimination by Wang, they’re just collateral damage in the pursuit of partisan goals;  if the redistricting process was hijacked by partisans masquerading as unbiased saints, well, the ends justify the means and sometimes the experts need to make decisions for the ignorant, unwashed masses.

And there’s little doubt the mainstream media will amplify the eye-rolls from the left, even though whistleblowers on the inside have exposed the fraud.

But there is no doubt that in at least 2 states, Wang and PGP achieved their own desired partisan gerrymanders, and voters in those states have had their representation options designed by unelected, unaccountable partisans who gamed the system and hoodwinked the public. Countless other states have had the process twisted by the broad acceptance and media promotion of phony partisan fairness grades that were engineered to achieve more Democrat seats.

The media – especially those who have helped PGP to score draft maps – has been derelict and complicit in the PGP scheme.

Of course, experts and academics are not always wrong, or lying, or bullies.  But of course, sometimes they are some or all those things.

In 2015, two years before he founded PGP, Wang wrote an editorial in the New York Times entitled Let Math Save Our Democracy which he begins by saying:

“Partisan gerrymandering is an offense to democracy. It creates districts that are skewed and uncompetitive, denying voters the ability to elect representatives who fairly reflect their views.”

But that’s exactly what Wang designed the PGP to do, cloaked in the inviolability of academia and the unarguability of statistics.

A more apt title might have been Let Math Save Our Democrats.