November 8, 2010

APPROACHING ITS NATURAL SHAPE:

Another Democratic Congress? It could be awhile: If you're hoping for a quick turnaround in 2012, you might be disappointed (Mark Greenbaum, 11/06/10, Salon)

While Democrats’ historic loss of at least 61 seats (results are still pending in a handful of districts) can be traced to a diverse set of factors, the majority of the Democrats defeated were either elected to Republican-friendly seats in the wave elections of 2006 and 2008 or were long-term incumbents who represented heavily GOP districts. The seats in that latter category are likely gone for good, while many in the former are clustered in a handful of states where GOP state-level gains will ensure that they are fortified in next year’s redistricting trials, making them even more difficult for Democrats to take back than they were entering the '06 and '08 cycles.

The losses of Democrats like Rick Boucher (southeast Virginia coal country), Lincoln Davis (increasingly conservative central Tennessee), Chet Edwards (College Station, Texas), Jim Marshall (Macon, Ga.), Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota), Ike Skelton (the Ozarks) and Gene Taylor (Biloxi and Pascagoula, Miss.) are particularly painful for Democrats, given the treacherous political terrain they face in those districts. Democrats were incredibly lucky to hold these seats as long as they did, and they were able to because incumbents like Skelton (elected in 1976), Boucher (1982), Taylor (1989), and Edwards (1990) had adeptly burrowed themselves in. Democrats were always going to lose these seats when these representatives stepped down, but the tidal wave of 2010 washed them all away in one fell swoop.

Put another way, of the 20 most Republican-leaning House seats held by Democrats on Election Day, 17 of them fell. With Partisan Voting Index scores ranging from R+9 in Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s South Dakota at-large district to an unfathomable R+20 for Edwards’ Texas seat and Taylor’s south Mississippi district, it's a miracle Democrats held these seats for as long as they did. Altogether, Democrats dropped 25 seats this week with PVI ratings of R+6 or more. It’s difficult to envision the party winning many of these seats back in the short- or long-term future.

Looking at Tuesday’s results from another angle, around two-thirds of the seats Democrats lost were held by members elected in the '06 and '08 elections. With a small handful of exceptions, nearly all of these districts are Republican-leaning, though most not overwhelmingly so.


There's still a ways to go to a 60-40 Congress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 8, 2010 6:24 AM
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