April 11, 2005

60-40 COUNTRY MEANS A 60-40 CONGRESS, EVENTUALLY... (via Rick Turley):

The Hardest Numbers (Michael Barone, 4/11/05, Real Clear Politics)

[T]he 2004 presidential election results tell us that Republicans are in even stronger shape than their 55-45 and 232-203 Senate and House margins suggest.

Start with the Senate. George W. Bush carried 31 states that elect 62 senators. There are nine Republican senators from Kerry states and 16 Democratic senators from Bush states. Many of these are from states that were close in the presidential election. But there are 11 Democrats and only three Republicans from states where their presidential nominee got less than 47 percent of the vote. There are more Democrats with political incentives to vote with Bush than there are Republicans with incentives to vote against him.

As for the House, we now know which presidential candidate carried each of the 435 congressional districts, thanks to Polidata, which crunched the numbers for National Journal and the Almanac of American Politics (of which I am co-author). These numbers surprised even some political pros. Bush carried 255 districts and John Kerry only 180. In all, 41 Democrats represent Bush districts and 18 Republicans represent Kerry districts. Eliminating the districts where the House member's presidential candidate won 47 percent or more, we find only five Republicans in strong Kerry districts but 30 Democrats in strong Bush districts.

Why did Bush carry 59 percent of the districts while winning 51 percent of the popular vote? One reason is that winners usually carry a disproportionate share of districts. Another is gerrymandering, which favored Republicans this cycle. One more is the Voting Rights Act, which encourages concentrations of blacks and Hispanics in a few districts that Democrats usually carry heavily, while losing adjacent seats.

The implications? In the long run, Republicans are well positioned to increase their numbers in both the Senate and the House.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2005 10:39 PM

Barone's analysis means that it just might be smart for the GOP not to force the filibuster "nuclear option" until one more election cycle.

Posted by: Andrew X at April 12, 2005 12:36 AM