In an interesting post from the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, he notes that while Dems would be likely to win back some seats in the House this Fall. But Wasserman adds that there is a tipping point where it becomes a lot more difficult for the blue team to pick up seats.
The great sort — The House is just a lot less “elastic” than it used to be. Today, the Cook Report rates just 36 of 435 districts as competitive — about 8 percent of the House. Even if Democrats were to hold all their own seats and sweep out all 26 Republicans sitting in districts Obama carried in 2012, they’d still be four seats short of a majority (and, by our tally, just five of these 26 Republicans have endorsed Trump by name so far). By contrast, if Democrats were to defeat all seven Republicans running for Senate in Obama states, they would win a 53-seat majority, assuming they hold all their own seats.The other part that makes the Dems’ attempts to control all three parts of decision-making in DC is the gerrymandering that has been a main part of politics in the 2010s. Wasserman notes that the combination of sorting and gerrymandering means it would take a massive Dem win in November for them to take the lower chamber.
Second, Republicans’ astounding state legislative gains in the 2010 midterms — the year before the decennial redistricting cycle — allowed them to redraw four times as many congressional districts as Democrats in 2011 and 2012, stretching their geographical edge even further. As a result, in 2012, Democrats won 51 percent of all major-party votes cast for House candidates but just 47 percent of all seats. In 2014, Democrats won 47 percent of all major-party votes but just 43 percent of the seats. Amazingly, just 16 of 247 House Republicans won their races by fewer than 10 percentage points.Interestingly, this Dem +8 standing is around where the Clinton-Trump matchups are today, which makes you wonder if that’s playing into the rumors of certain GOP delegates thinking about trying to dump Drumpf at next month’s convention.
If Democrats’ seat share continues to lag their national vote share by about 4 percentage points in 2016, the party might need to win about 8 percent more votes than Republicans nationally just to reach the barest possible majority of 218 seats.
We saw similar outcomes in Wisconsin with the 53-46 Obama win in 2012. There was no change at the Congresisonal level, as the state’s delegation stayed at 5-3 GOP in 2012, with no race being decided by less than 10 points. In addition, “great sort” theory also holds true in Wisconsin, which is why a recent study from Binghamton University on our redistricting showed that a “fair” map for the State Legislature would still have a 2-3 point advantage for Republicans.
But that same study also mentions that the 2-3 point GOP advantage was turned into 5-6 points by jiggering with the district lines, both at the state and federal levels. which in an even system would likely mean a closely divided State Assembly. Instead, Republicans held a 60-39 advantage in the Assembly after 2012. The Binghamton study says this means Dems would have to have a uniform win statewide on the order of Obama’s 56-42 win in 2008 to get a majority in the State Assembly, and if you look at this neat spreadsheet set up by Daily Kos and see how this translated in 2012. This Daily Kos page has votes for statewide office by each individual Congressional district and how all 99 State Assembly districts voted in Wisconsin.
As you'll see, 5 of the 8 Congressional districts voted for Romney in 2012, but a uniform swing of 4 points in each of those districts (the equivalent of going from 53-46 Dem to 57-42 Dem) gives Dem majorities to 7 out of Wisconsin 8 districts. Likewise, 57 Assembly districts voted for Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012, with the median seat being 51-48 GOP (Hi, David Steffen!). But a 3 point uniform swing to the Dems vs 2012 turns 11 of those Assembly seats into Dem majorities, resulting in a 53-46 lead in Assembly districts.
Interestingly, Wasserman points out that even if the GOP did keep the House after November, that might not work out so well for them. In fact, his analysis points out that perhaps a 15-seat House win for Dems (keeping them in the minority) might be better than a 35-seat win (giving Dems a slight majority), and that a small GOP majority could especially be damaging to a certain Wisconsinite.
….Back in October, we predicted that Paul Ryan wouldn’t have it any easier than John Boehner did when it comes to fundamental spending and debt votes, thanks to rebellions from the very conservative House Freedom Caucus.And making Purty Mouth Pau-LIE look like an even bigger waffling buffoon than he does today, whether Pau-LIE is discussing the candidacy of Donald Trump, or bouncing back and forth between “positive ideas” in one sentence, then doing typical GOP dog-whistles and fear-mongering in the next.
If Ryan were to lose half his 30-seat majority, he could be the last backstop against a Democratic White House and Senate. But Ryan would also likely be forced to reach across the aisle for Democratic votes even more often than Boehner did, giving the minority more leverage and possibly branding him as the GOP’s RINO-in-chief for good.
And with the Dem advantage for president expanding quite a bit in the last week, you can see where it’s possible that a whole lot of new seats are going to be in play if a fool like Drumpf is heading up the GOP ticket, or fracturing it in a third-party run. Yes, it's an uphill climb for Dems to take control of the lower House, both at the state and congressional levels, but it's also not impossible. Long way to go, but keep these “tipping point” numbers in mind both at the state and federal levels if you’re trying to set expectations for November’s outcomes.