GOP's Got a House Advantage

Democrats have a steep uphill climb.

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The bad news for Democrats is that few analysts believe they will pick up anywhere close to the 25 House seats they would need to replace John Boehner with Nancy Pelosi in the speaker’s chair. The worse news is that for the balance of the decade they will face an uphill battle in their ongoing attempts to take back control of the chamber, according to a new report.

[Check out editorial cartoons about the Congress.]

I wrote earlier that a new study from the Bipartisan Policy Center predicts less turnover and more polarization. The same report also notes that after this year’s round of redistricting and reapportionment, the GOP has a structural advantage in the makeup of the House. The minor bright spot for Democrats is that their disadvantage will be marginally less pronounced than in the last decade.

According to the report, there are now 234 Republican leaning seats in the House—176 safe ones and 58 competitive ones. That compares with 201 Democratic leaning seats in the House—158 in safe districts and 43 in competitive districts. A competitive district is one in which, if the presidential elections were 50-50, the specific House district could be expected to average 52.5 percent to 54.99 percent for one party.

[See political cartoons about the GOP.]

The breakdown of competitive seats is a slight improvement for Democrats from the last decade when Republicans had two more safe seats (178) and Democrats had two more competitive seats (45) but four fewer safe seats (154).

Of course Democrats did control the House for four years in the last decade, which is a reminder that just because the GOP has a structural advantage, it’s not insurmountable.

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