86% of the 2018 Congressional Election Already Determined
A projection was made by Fair Vote Org as to what will happen in the 2018 Congressional Elections based upon a series of variables such as whether a candidate is an incumbent, the geographical location or rural versus city, the underlying partisan lean of a district etc. If we apply those variables to this election; the likelihood of a House takeover even with a Blue Wave of angry Democrats going to the poll will not yield us what we hope to achieve. It is worth considering the findings as Fair Vote Org. has accurately portrayed the Congressional results in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections.
Increasingly polarized and partisan voters give way to congressional districts being safe for a party holding the seat to continue to do so. In winner take all elections leaving many unrepresented, Fair Vote identifies it as the root cause of dysfunction in our electoral process and advocates going to a system of fair representative voting. While I agree with much of what is being said by Fair Vote Org., I would add to their findings, the average size of the congressional districts magnifies the dysfunction of Congressional elections by disenfranchising large elements of the population within those districts. Congressional Representatives have the luxury of ignoring a sizeable minority (in numbers) constituency.
The congressional districts in place today reflect Republican majorities in the U.S. House. Using the parameters identified, 208 Republican districts are counted as being safe for Republicans. To maintain control of the House, Republicans would only need to win ten of the remaining 61 seats in the upcoming 2018 election. Districts labeled safe for either party are those the Fair Vote Org. is highly confident of the outcome and it remaining in that party’s control.
In a year where the national party preference by constituents is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the 2018 election would still leave Republican candidates winning 244 districts (56%) or 53 more than Democrats. Incumbency is an advantage and hard to overturn.
The bias towards Republicans holds true in the Democratic wave year of 2018. Even in the case of a Blue Democratic wave year of as 54% or more of the national party preference by constituents, Republicans would still walk away with 226 districts compared to 209 for Democrats (Figure 1.4). A reverse scenario of a 54% wave year for Republicans, GOP candidates would result in a projected 254 districts (58%), with a Democratic advantage in the remaining 181 districts. Seemingly, the deck is stacked against the Democrats taking control of the House in 2018.
Unless more than 55.4% of voters go to the polls and prefer Democrats over Republicans, the House will still be controlled by Republicans. Maybe the 55.4% turnout will take place; but, I believe it to be unlikely given the numbers I am seeing. While Democrats will gain ground, Republicans will keep their majority even with as little as 45% turnout in a Republican party preference in this election.
Immutable determinations of Congressional Election Outcomes. What I attempt to show here is; unless changes in how we select our Congressional Representatives to office in winner take all elections and in the districts themselves, the population size of the districts, the representation of minority interests, etc., little will change in the House and how they represent their constituents. Michigan’s Mike Bishop is a perfect example of a Congressional Representative ignoring constituents and only because he does not need them to elect him. Lending credence to this report were the prediction results of the Fair Vote Organization on what had occurred in the 2012, 2014, and the 2016 elections. For example, the 2016 U.S. House elections were so uncompetitive, Fair Vote was able to accurately predict winners in 97% of seats more than a year before Election Day using only data from the three previous congressional elections.
Mostly due to the reasons cited earlier (incumbency, winner-take-all, size of district, etc.) the outcome of more than 80% of U.S. House races can be predicted with near certainty years ahead of the election. In 2012 and 2014 House elections, the model made “high-confidence” projections in 701 contests (80.5% of all races) and was correct in all but one. The remaining ~20% of the races were either in a favored status or a tossup.
Advantages built into the structure of House elections strengthen a continued Republican majority likely. For 2018, Fair Vote’s model makes high-confidence projections of the winners in 374 of 435 U.S. House races. Of these 374 projections, 208 races are safe for Republicans and 166 are safe for Democrats. Of the 61 seats our high-confidence model did not project, 22 favor Republicans and another 21 are toss-up seats. Republicans need only win 10 of these to maintain their majority.
Although 2018 might be a bad year for incumbents, the rates of incumbent re-election will remain high. Donald Trump’s unexpected election to the presidency did not nothing to change the House status quo. 98% of congressional incumbents won re-election in the 2016 general election. Mid-terms when one party controls all levels of government are extremely volatile; but, we can expect an incumbent re-election rate on the order of 90% or more.
Of the ten most vulnerable incumbents, five are Democrats and five are Republicans. 2016 upended many longstanding partisan and demographic trends, leaving many incumbents from both parties stranded in what is now enemy territory. Both of the incumbents with the highest projected margins of defeat, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) and Tim Waltz (D-MN) have already announced they are not seeking re-election.
Outcomes in most races are essentially predetermined and can be forecasted just months – or even days – after the previous election.
“Monopoly Politics; The Root of Dysfunction in the House of Representatives;” Fair Vote staff, led by Andrew Douglas, Theodore Landsman, and Rob Richie. Special thanks to Madeline Brown, Sarah John, Johnathan Nowakowski, and Drew Penrose of Fair Vote Org
Nice, but beyond sad.
And there’s more. Because of this unfairness in elections, there will be no chance to change our electoral system. Not in my lifetime, and I doubt in my children’s lifetime.
The tail is wagging the dog(and has been for a long time), and there is no way the tail is going to give up that power. And that’s what it would take to make changes.
The EC is a symptom of the lack of representation in the House. The House was supposed to represent by population. The Reapportionment Bill of 1929 froze the number of Reps in the House
I understand that, Run. Doesn’t make me stop hating the electoral college, but that is not the point.
The point is that any substantive changes in our election process will take a constitutional amendment. And no small state is going to vote to give up their power.
IN terms of attacking the 1929 bill, it has been tried; failed in District Court; and the Supreme Court refused to hear it. This Court would certainly not hear such a case. And even if the legislative branch changed it, there is no question this Court would declare it unconstitutional.
We’re screwed/ For a long, long time.
The size of the House and the district population determinant is already written into Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution and was followed until 1920. I did not read the case opinion. I suspect like many other denials, the complainant brought the wrong argument to court.
Run, I am far from a constitutional lawyer. However any group that come up with a mandate is a tax; untraceable cash is speech; and
“Our country has changed,” Roberts wrote in the opinion he delivered that day, Shelby County v. Holder. It has wiped away so much of its racist past that the “extraordinary measures” employed by a key provision of the Voting Rights Act could no longer be justified.”
won’t have any trouble with Article 1, Section 2 and its’ interpretation.
Mostly people do not read and so things go by the wayside. This was supposed to also be an amendment in the BoRs. For some reason, it was never completed. The big issue for all of us is in the House which is supposed to represent by population. Even if the used Wyoming which is the least populated state the smallest state, California would have gained 14 more Congressional Reps. Heavily populated states are under represented. Yes there is a problem with the presidency; but, this is far more serious.
Gore would have been the Pres if the districts were sized properly.
And yet — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez overcame the odds and won easily against a heavily-favored opponent. Democrats must accept that the deck is stacked against them, and find a way to win anyway. Until they realize they must communicate a message that the public likes, it will not happen — and “communicate” doesn’t mean just speeches anmd relying on the press to do its job, but heavy and smart use of mass media. Part of that measage needs to be aimed at boomeranging the huge Republican money advantage against them.
This election will be defined by turnout. If only 11.8% turn out as they did for Alexandria, then Democrats will lose. “With 98 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday, the State Board of Elections shows 27,826 registered Democrats cast votes in Tuesday’s primary in New York’s 14th District. With 235,745 registered Democrats as of April, according to the BOE, this comes out to a turnout of around 11.8 percent.”
I’m trying to figure out the criticism of the “winner-take-all election.” If two or more candidates are vying for a seat in government, only one can actually assume that seat, so how can the election be anything other than “winner-take-all” by definition? Perhaps each candidate should hold office for a portion of the term based on the percentage of votes received?
The conclusion that the Apportionment Act of 1929 rendered it impossible to alter partisan control of the House is refuted by history. Control of the House has changed between Democratic and Republican parties no fewer than 8 times since 1929.
The statement that it stacked the deck in favor of Republicans is also refuted, since Democrats have controlled the House for no less than 62 years since 1929, Republicans for 27 years.
Districting, or electing representation at large, is entirely up to the states. Democrats love the way California does it and hate the way Texas does it, but it has nothing to do with fairness. It has to do with the states’ ability to control the power levers of government.
So, run, I assume you are not telling us to fuggeddaboudit with respect to the midterms, or are you?
I gave the highlights from the 64 pages and it is far more than what I put over at BOTF. The links are there and I have made some questions to them. What is key here is their accuracy over the last 4 elections. It is too damn high to be ignored. If you go to their interactive model, they will tell you who will win, who has the leaners, and if it is a tossup.
The larger the congressional districts, the more people are disenfranchised with the aid of gerrymandering, technology to target voters, greater and more independent campaign spending, dwindling turnout in primaries, and an accelerating partisan divide in which fewer voters split tickets and more counties, districts, and states strongly favor one party over the other. There is little or no accountability in large districts as representatives can ignore a minority. I gave an example of Mike Bishop who has yet to meet in a Townhall. The race is a tossup if you look at the interactive model. He may lose but the model will also tell you as an incumbent he will probably win. Incumbency means a lot in a race.
“Incumbency re-election rate is expected to be well over 90%. We expect a majority of states to re-elect every single incumbent in their delegations.” Wven if there is a Blue Wave, DEms still may not win control of the House. That Blue Wave has to be greater than 55.4% to take control of the House. The Repubs just have to win 10 races besides the incumbent to maintain a majority in the House.
I have written on the House before. I have written about the size of the districts, the gerrymandering of them by political interests, and how it is damn near impossible to unintentionally draw a map which creates competitive districts. For the same reasons they balked at increasing the numbers of districts in 1910 -29; they are doing the same today. It is partisan politics, a small state versus large state, a rural versus urban area, etc. There was to be no set numbers of Congressional Districts. To cite a need for a larger room in Washington D. C. for the House members as they do not need to meet in Washington D. C. given modern communication methods.
So who elects Mike Bishop, Texans? “Mid-terms when one party controls all levels…are extremely volatile…” That one sentence appears to invalidate Fair Vote’s “model”. But if David Brooks endorses Fair Vote they must be correct.
Do you really want to argue CA being shy 14 votes in the House when compared to Wyoming? Montana with its 1 district and 1 million people is shy 1 rep in comparison to Wyoming also. A majority vote for Mikie Bishop leaves the minority at 45% except the district is gerrymandered and the 700,000 could be 3 districts instead of one. The 8th district has over 700,000 constituents which is the average size in the US. Mikie ignores the other 300,000 constituents which is pretty much the issue in the US. Mikie’s district is a toss up; but as an incumbent, he is favored to win. Michigan went Dem since 1988 in National elections (The same holds true for Wisconsin). Only in 2016 did they sneak a Repub vote in. Libertarians and Communists saw the increased votes.
Volatile is 61 seats. The rest are safe or leaning Dem/Repub. Historically non-presidential year elections are volatile.
True enough but , as with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and horse racing, despite the consensus of the oddsmakers, we don’t let them decide it. As they say in sports, it’s why they play the games.
Who is responsible for the 95% reelection rate? Who? Voters do not decide who to vote for? State legislators decide that by drawing lines on a map, dictating that everyone inside certain boundaries must vote for a certain party? The voters don’t get to decide? Really?
Try not to talk.
Although the deck is currently stacked in favor of the wealthy–Citizens United plus GOP Supreme Court approved gerrymandering and the targeting of Democratic heavy groups for voter suppression only slightly less obvious than poll taxes–the real culprit is the ignorance and apathy of American citizens. A solid 20% never vote–not ever, never have and never will. Only about 10% always vote and I think that is where the GOP has its largest advantage. The deplorables are deplorable for a lot of reasons, but getting to the polls is not one of them. Probably half the people who do vote have no idea where the candidates stand on any issue and vote based solely on party identification or name recognition–hence the advantage for incumbents. Of the remaining somewhat informed voters, probably another half vote based on a single issue–abortion, guns, law and order, illegal immigration, etc. Both parties do this–I can not begin to tell you how many emails and flyers I have gotten stating that Roe v Wade is threatened–now by Kavanaugh’s nomination, but it goes back to the 1980’s in terms of one candidate or another. Such over the top claims like negative ads only work with low information voters which is about 90% of the electorate. The bottom line is that if American do not care enough about their rights and freedoms to vote and to get some basic information before doing so, they will lose their rights and freedoms and no amount of tinkering or handwringing will change that result. I am sorry for what remains of my life and for my children and grandchildren, but at the end of the day Americans do not deserve to keep the rights they have been too lazy to protect. The fact that the GOP is currently more opportunistic in exploiting this laziness should not obscure the underlying issue.
Much of what you say is true. I tried to provide a piece reflecting different issues on the impact of our voting. Here is an example: “What I attempt to show is; unless changes in how we select our Congressional Representatives to office in winner take all elections and in the districts themselves, the population size of the districts, the representation of minority interests, etc., little will change in the House and how they represent their constituents. Michigan’s Mike Bishop is a perfect example of a Congressional Representative ignoring constituents and only because he does not need them to elect him. Lending credence to this report were the prediction results of the Fair Vote Organization on what had occurred in the 2012, 2014, and the 2016 elections. For example, the 2016 U.S. House elections were so uncompetitive, Fair Vote was able to accurately predict winners in 97% of seats more than a year before Election Day using only data from the three previous congressional elections.
The Districts are too big and the House too few in numbers to adequately represent the constituents in each district and the nation for which the House was designed to do by the founding fathers in what was called The Great Compromise.
Why? Is this another of the liberal groups that only permits speech which reinforces what it currently believes? We do not permit discussion here because this is strictly an echo chamber.
No, it is an attempt to make your read Run’s post and realize the truth about US House Elections.
Your comments have nothing whatsoever to do with his post, and are merely distractions.
So how are the Democrats going to drive high turn-out without a massive and informative mass-media campaign — especially TV and new media — to persuade voters that they need for their own and their children’s futures to get every Republican possible out of office and put Democrats in there instead? I see no signs of that; I’m betting we will see only particularized,consultant-driven, local 30-second commercials attacking the other candidate’s character, nothing that tells the kind of stories we in the progressive blogosphere can recite in our sleep.
I have been ostracized by Michigan Dems because I called some of the tossup candidates superficial. They are. When I can deep-dive into the VA/ACA, etc, they are superficial and it drives me crazy. They got some economist with a tiny ponytail, gray hair no doubt, feeding them BS. This is not rocket science.
Repubs will probably maintain a majority and Dems will gain ground. Fix the structural problem and things will improve.
I don’t see any real solution (though hoping for massive voter turnout) unless or until some billionaires such as Hanauer start using their money to counter the Kock et al money.
We are in a battle of money. Sure, collectively We the People have the power over the money influence. We just don’t have the collective.
I have read that 25 million more people voted dem for congress, yet we have a republican congress. Vote local and start the change there? Still, nationally we don’t have such a collective movement.
Polls out today say 68% of republicans back Trump’s Putin pow wow. Stories regarding the tariffs effects show Trump voters saying they still back him and that he’s fighting for America.
We don’t even teach civic in school because we have decided that education is only good for business. It used to be “go to college, get a life”. Now we all agree “go to college, get a job” is the proper message.
Lastly, the Dem party machines are not backing the progressive candidates that have won their primaries.
This is a structural issue. Districts too large at an average of 700,000, states under represented, representation by population muted, rural vs urban. gerrymandering of districts, etc. Congressional Representatives in today’s House can get away with ignoring hundreds of thousands of constituents and still get elected. Fix the problem.
There is one fix that has been demonstrated to work in OR and Wa, go to all mail voting. No election day no lines at the polls no need for early voting etc. Set it up so the ballots arrive 10 days before the due date, and there is no excuse not to vote, since the time to get to the polls has been eliminated. (You could do this with permanent absent voting as I understand CA has, but make that the default option, so fewer voting locations would be required.)
Note that this could be done on a state by state basis.
I agree, make voting easier.
Run, yes a structural issue that has been put in place by the people who citizens voted for. The structural issues are such to assure no effective change in the representation to those who would undo the structure.
Not that change is not possible, but as noted the percentage of people that have to vote in order to make ineffective the current structure is huge and in recent history not likely.
The issue is getting people to vote. That takes money to put in place the infrastructure to beat down the current infrastructure that the conservative/libertarian/neoliberal movement has put in place.
The current structure includes everything that would fall under the subject of “freedom of the press”. Messaging systems.
Plus, I believe it was Princeton that showed currently government only responds now to money.
Talking about structure and the changes needed is fine. How to make it happen is going to take lots of money. Specifically the amount that Kock et al have been spending for decades.
Yes, make voting easier. Unfortunately, in the states that make it hard, those elected need to be voted out. Yet, the fact that voting is hard is part of what keeps them in.
So again, the suggestion is an obvious structural change that needs to be made. How are you going to get it done? Even in NC where they put in a dem governor, they have a repub congress that moved to strip governor power. Structural change, but not enough to actually change the structure.
The issue is money. The money consolidation has gone hand in hand with election/voting/governing consolidation such that we have 40 to 50% of the population who are so miss informed (some would say brainwashed) that they can not be reasonably counted on to not walk off the cliff even as they feel nothing under their feet.