Friday, December 31, 2010

2012: New York

Senate: Kristin Gillibrand (D)
Legislature: Republicans +7 (+17%)
State Senate: Republicans +2 (+7%)
House: Democrats 21 Republicans 8
Redistricting: Bi-partisan

I wouldn’t put much stock in Republicans beating Gillibrand in 2012 unless Pitaki or Guilani were to run. On the House side, New York was the land of opportunity for Republicans in 2010, winning 6 seats. Yet there will be opportunities for pick-ups in 2012. Republicans lost 3 seats by a total of 6 points, even after winning those six. Their 3 smallest margins of victory added up to 9 points, so they were closer to gaining than losing.

Redistricting can be split into two parts, the 17 downstate districts, which will lose 1, and the 12 upstate districts that’ll also lose 1. As I showed in the post about the VRA, Republicans should have a fighting chance in at least 3 downstate districts, including Steve Israel’s 2nd district. Democrats could try to pack in Democratic votes to protect Israel, since he’s the head of the DCCC, but that would leave Tim Bishop and Gary Ackerman vulnerable.

Since a Democratic district will be eliminated downstate, the trade will likely be that a Republican district will be eliminated upstate. The question is whether they pit two Republicans against each other or an incumbent Republican against a Democrat. It isn’t easy to create safe districts upstate. There are heavily Democratic strongholds like Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany but the Democratic cities aren’t as Democratic as New York City. While it’s possible to make two reasonably safe Democratic and two reasonably safe Republican districts in Western New York, the five Eastern districts will likely be swing districts. Republicans Nan Heyworth (19th), Chris Gibson (20th), Richard Hanna (24th), and Ann Marie Buerkle (25th) and Democrats Paul Tonko (21st), Maurice Hinchey (22nd) and Bill Owens (23rd) will be squeezed from six districts to five. My speculation is that Owens will go up against Hanna. Since all these districts will be swing districts I don’t imagine two Republicans will run against each other in a primary rather than running in two districts.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

VRA and Redistricting

The 1965 Voting Rights Act has provisions in it to make sure minorities aren’t disenfranchised. Prior to this, White legislators would take an African-American community of 250,000 and split it into 2-3 districts to dilute African-American voting power. The VRA was designed to keep these communities together. It’s gone a bit further than that. Legislatures have gerrymandered districts to take that 250,000 and find another 100,000 people somewhere in the state to create a Black majority district. That’s what they do now.

It works great for African-American and Latino representatives. With a majority/plurality from their ethnic group their re-election is virtually guaranteed. In some states this is a big positive for Democrats. Right now the only districts Democrats have in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina are minority majority. Democrats are having trouble appealing to Whites and don’t have to worry about trying in these states in order to win some districts.

The VRA also helps Republicans. By combining Blacks in Selma, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham the remaining districts become very difficult for the Democrats to win. If AL-7 were 40% African-American instead of 62%, there could be enough Democrats in another district to make them more competitive.

Missouri is going to lose a congressional seat. Right now there are three Democratic districts, one of which is majority minority and a second one that is 30% Black/Hispanic. These districts will need to add people in redistricting. The 1st district is currently heavily Democratic and could easily add Republicans and still be an easy win for the Democrats. If they did, however, there’s no guarantee the person elected would be Black. In order to make sure the Republicans give the 1st and 5th as many African-Americans as possible, Black Democrats will sacrifice Russ Carnahan’s seat. Republicans will take that trade.

New York will lose two seats in redistricting, one of which will be in the New York metropolitan area. There are currently 17 districts, 15 of which are Democratic and only 2 Republican. You’d think that after redistricting it’d be 14-2 Democratic. Maybe. Maybe not.

There are currently 8 majority minority districts in the metropolitan area and 2 districts that are largely in Manhattan. Since Republicans hold a majority in the state senate they’ll probably tell the Democrats they can gerrymander New York City and Long Island however they want as long as they a) Keep as many Republicans in Peter King’s district as possible b) make sure all of Staten Island is in the 13th.

Even if they try to put as many Republicans as they can in these two districts, they’ll still run into a problem. They’ll have to create 8 majority minority districts. These districts, on average, will need to increase in size by 65,000 voters. In order to maintain majority minority status, they’ll have to grab as many minority voters from surrounding Democratic districts. That’ll make the other districts less Democratic.

I used Dave’s redistricting App. I eliminated the 4th district since a Democratic district will need to be eliminated. By maximizing the minority make-up in the 8 majority-minority districts, this is what I came up with:

I wasn’t attempting to make the districts more Republican. By gerrymandering the districts to keep minorities in the other eight districts, almost all of these districts go more Republican. The 8th and 14th are the New York City districts. There may be a way to have the 8th grab less Democrats, but there are four majority minority districts in Queens and Brooklyn bordering Manhattan. They could grab some Republicans from the 9th or 13th, moving them a little bit toward the Democrats. Any way you cut it, however, the Democratic 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 9th will likely have to become more Republican. This is after eliminating the Democratic 4th and maximizing Republicans in the GOP held 13th and 3rd. Democrats failed to get to 60% in 3 of the 4 remaining districts. None of the 2010 candidates were part of the GOP’s Young Guns program. So they were neither a top candidate nor got help from the NRCC. If these districts become more Republican, however, they could be in play in 2012.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2012: Texas

Senate: Hutchinson (R)
Legislature: Republicans +22 (+29%)
State Senate: No change
House: Democrats 9 Republicans 23
Redistricting: Republicans

Texas gains four electoral votes in 2012, so that’s four more electoral votes for the Republican candidate. Democrats have no chance of taking this state.

Texas will gain four congressional districts in 2012 and that’ll be a huge Republican advantage. Democrats have a fantasy that the influx of Hispanics into Texas will eventually turn the state blue, or at least a little less red. Once again the future will belong to the Democrats. The way things have changed every two years this decade I don’t see how anybody knows how things will be in 10 years.

There are some problems with this idea. While Hispanics are 36% of the Texas population, they were only 20% and 17% of the electorate in 2008 and 2010. Many Hispanics aren’t eligible to vote and those that are vote at a much lower rate than other groups. This isn’t California. While Republicans don’t do well with Mexican-Americans elsewhere they do okay here. This is George W. Bush’s home state and he pulled 45% of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

That’s not to say Hispanics don’t matter. There are currently 11 Congressional districts in Texas that are majority minority or nearly so. The Democrats hold 9 of them and lost the 2 others by narrow margins this year. There should be 13 or 14 majority minority districts in 2012 and the Democrats should be heavy favorites in 11 of them.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Republicans know how to gerrymander in Texas. They can likely turn the majority minority seats that Canseco and Farenthold have into safe seats, while still retaining a minority majority.

Like the rest of the south, Democrats get clobbered with White voters. White voters will be in the majority in 22 or 23 congressional districts. The GOP should easily be able to end up at least with a 24-12 advantage.

The senate race should be interesting, but not because Democrats have a good shot at winning it. Kay Bailey Hutchinson was retiring then kinda retiring and now we don’t know. She isn’t terribly popular with conservatives and will get a tea party challenge if she runs for re-election. Well, I expect every sitting Republican senator to get a tea party challenge, simply because any challenger will declare him or herself to be a tea party candidate. Maybe John Barrasso can dismiss the possibility but the other nine Republican incumbents better take it seriously.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Red State Blue State Part II

If Democrats are turning red states bluer, then the states they’re leaving behind should get redder. The chart below show legislative gains/losses in 15 states the GOP hasn’t won for the Presidency since the 1980s. The 7 states on top are ones where Republicans didn’t win any congressional seats in 2010. Republicans cleaned up in the ones on the bottom, gaining 22 seats total. California is excluded because it’s so heavily gerrymandered with almost no seats flipping either way all decade. New Jersey didn’t have elections this year.

The group at the top has been held up to show how the Republican wave bypassed the northeast and west, but that was only at a congressional level. Republicans made net gains in almost every state, and took two houses in Maine and now have the same number as the Democrats in the Oregon legislature. While gaining 14 in the Connecticut legislature and 15 in Massachusetts isn’t a sign the states will swing GOP in 2012, it is a sign that the wave didn’t miss these states.

The second group may be another story. Before the election Democrats controlled 14 of the 16 chambers in this group. Now they control 7. There’s no chance Maryland, New York, or Illinois will go GOP, but the other 5 could be up for grabs.

Red State Blue State Part I

Democrats have come up with the idea that the people are moving from blue states to red states must be Democrats. So they’re going to turn red states, well, a little less red. What you see is what you get. These people are already voting and how they vote can be seen in congressional and Presidential elections. We’re seeing the results. Nevada and Colorado look like they have flipped, but the only other state that looks like it’s moving Democratic is Montana.

Increasing the number of districts in a state just divides the Republican and Democratic votes in the state a little bit differently. With Republicans controlling the redistricting in some of these they’ll just divide them up a little bit differently. The more districts you have, the easier it is to gerrymander.

The chart below shows where each state was in 2004, before the switches, 2008, at the Democratic height, and where I expect them to be in 2012. The top group are the states gaining seats, while the bottom group has the states losing seats.

My projections have the Democrats gaining 8 seats and losing 6. The Republicans gain 4 seats and lose 6. “Aha!” The liberal says, “I see! The Democrats will gain with redistricting!” Yes, they will and part of it is the blue state people moving to red states. More of it has to do with the bloated number of seats the Republicans hold. Even without redistricting they would be bound to lose seats. They simply hold to many marginal districts.

If the Democrats net 2 seats out of the states that are redistricting, that would mean they’d have a 240-195 deficit. I think the GOP can live with that. They’ll have to rely on the states that are retaining their seats. That’ll be difficult. The only states where Republicans currently have seats and the Democrats control redistricting are Arkansas, West Virginia, and Maryland. Arkansas and West Virginia actually gave John McCain a higher share than they gave George Bush. So these states are moving heavily in the other direction. Maryland is already heavily gerrymandered. It’s conceivable the Democrats could find a way to go from a 6-2 advantage to a 7-1 edge, but that’d only net them 1 seat.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities out there beyond that. They could gain in Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Tennessee, New Hampshire, or the Dakotas but I wouldn’t expect much. They’ll need a favorable redistricting from the California commission, which again can’t be counted on.

It’s easy to see that the Democrats should pick up 5-10 seats in 2012, but they’d need people to hate Republicans as much as they did in 2006 and 2008. With George Bush in Texas that won’t happen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Redistricting: Congress

A lot of people think the Republicans will make big congressional gains because they control so many state legislatures. That’s unlikely because the GOP made such huge gains in the 2010 election. The good news is that Republicans hold only two districts where John McCain got less than 42% of the vote, and in those he got 41% and 38%. They hold 13 seats John Kerry won, while the Democrats hold 12 seats McCain won.

There are, however, 63 Republicans in districts that are between R +4 or less while only 39 Democrats in D +4 or less. If each party won half of those, the Democrats would pick up 12 seats.

With control of redistricting I’d expect there to be very little if any net change in 2012. Here are the states gaining seats:

Texas: The Democrats will likely take 3 of the 4 new seats, but that’s only because Republicans will want to strengthen incumbent seats. It’s certainly possible that the GOP could win 26 or even 27 seats in a good year, but I think 24 of the 36 districts is the best the Republicans can gerrymander. If they try to take too many seats they run the risk of losing more if things break a little bit wrong.

Florida: Florida was heavily gerrymandered for Republicans in 2002. This year all the Florida balls bounced their way. Right now it’s 19-6 Republican. In a fair redistrict, Republicans would likely get a 15-12 advantage. Yeah, that bad. I don’t think that’ll happen, but 17-10 seems likely.

Arizona: While Republicans control government, redistricting is non-partisan. The state could go from 5-3 Republican to 6-3, but 5-4 is more likely.

Georgia: There are three minority majority Black districts, but after that every district is on the table. I could easily see Georgia going from 8-5 Republicans to 10-4 with another GOP redistricting.

Nevada: This state is leaning Democratic now. The GOP has a 2-1 advantage and probably can expect a 2-2 split.

South Carolina: Unless the Justice Department requires the legislature to create a second majority minority district, Republicans will pick up the new seat.

Utah: Easy GOP pick-up. An additional district enables them to spread the Democrats over more districts. They may be able to finally unseat Jim Matheson.

Washington: Another non-partisan redistricting. The population growth is in the Seattle area, a Democratic stronghold. A new Seattle district will mean that the 4 Republican districts will recede further from that city and be safer for the GOP.

Here are the states that are losing seats:

Illinois – A potential GOP disaster. Republicans control 11 of the 19 congressional districts in a Democratic state. Expect the Dems to combine the down state districts represented by Bobby Schilling and Aaron Schock. Democrats are likely to make the districts represented by Bob Dold and Joe Walsh more Democratic too. Obama won 8 of the 11 districts now held by Republicans, so a 10-8 Democratic advantage with Republicans losing 3 seats might be a good outcome.

Iowa: As I’ve said before, this is a good one for Republicans. Tom Latham (R) will likely face off against Leonard Boswell (D) in a district favorable to Latham. Boswell will be 78 years old and may opt to retire. The other two seats could also be vulnerable. Democrats will almost definitely lose 1 seat here, if not 2 with a Republican pick-up.

Louisiana: Republicans control 6 of the 7 seats. The Democratic seat is majority minority. So there’s no way Republicans don’t lose a seat. The 2nd may stretch into Baton Rouge in order to maintain its minority majority status. The 4th and 5th will need to move south, adding counties from the 6th and 7th. If Lafayette moves into the 6th, the 3rd and 4th would be combined.

Massachusetts: Democrats have all 10 seats. After 2012 they’ll have all 9. They’ll likely eliminate the 7th, 8th, or 9th, depending on who challenges Scott Brown for the Senate.

Michigan: Republicans have a big advantage controlling redistricting, since there is a huge population loss in Democratic southeast Michigan. John Dingell’s district will be eliminated and gerrymandered in a way the Democrats will lose a seat.

Missouri: The Republicans are lucky that the St. Louis area lost the most population. Russ Carnahan (D) could be the big loser, although Todd Akin (R) could also be in trouble. It’s a question of how much of each of their districts Bill Clay’s district takes.

New Jersey: Another commission, this one bi-partisan. Two incumbents will have to run against each other. With population loss in the center of the state, either it’ll be Leonard Lance or Chris Smith on the Republican side and Frank Pallone or Rush Holt on the Democratic.

Pennsylvania: They know how to gerrymander in Pennsylvania and they’ll eliminate Mark Critz’s 12th. They’ll put more Republicans in the 6th, 7th, and 11th, to push them slightly in favor of Republicans. Pennsylvania is such a swing state, however, that it could go anywhere from 14-4 Republican to 12-6 Democratic even with a Republican gerrymander. I expect the Democrats to lose a seat in 2012 to make it 12-6 Republican.

New York: Two seats are going, but it might not be so bad for Republicans. Upstate is Republican enough that the GOP might not lose a seat. Freshmen Anne Marie Burkle or Richard Hanna will likely face off against either Democrats Bill Owens or Maurice Hinchey. The other loss is likely Democratic in Long Island. Republicans hold only two seats downstate. Michael Grimm’s seat is largely Staten Island, so that should retain its integrity. There’s no way Republicans will let Peter King be in a district that’s any less Republican. He’s the only Republican who has been in Washington more than two terms and has high level positions on Republican committees.

Ohio: A 13-5 Republican advantage likely means that there’s no way the GOP doesn’t lose one of the two seats. Democrat Betty Sutton will see her district eliminated. One Republican congressman will likely challenge Sherrod Brown for the senate. His district will be eliminated.

California: Who knows? I think it’ll favor the Demcorats but you could get some “crazy” redistricting. Actually it’s crazy now. We’ll get common sense redistricting. And that could create havoc. Darrell Issa represents the 49th. He’s from Vista, whichis in the southwest corner of his district. Brian Bilbray represents the 50th. He’s from Carlsbad, at the northern edge of his district. Vista and Carlsbad are neighboring cities in North County. In a common redistricting these two cities would be in the same district. It certainly isn’t unusual for two sitting Republican congressmen to be pitted against each other, but there may just be a new district right next to this one that covers no congressmen’s homes. So you may see a big scramble and end up with open seats.

I don’t see redistricting costing any other seats. It’s possible Republicans could squeeze out a Democrat in Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Wisconsin. Democrats in Maryland are creative, but it won’t be easy to squeeze out another district.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Redistricting Advantage

Chris Cillizza is the first mainstream media member to observe what I did last month. The GOP currently has a 62-29 advantage in districts that are between R+4 and D+4. The middle right now is a Republican 228-207 advantage. Republicans are 14 above that. If they're lucky, the Republicans can use redistricting to keep their net losses at 5-7 instead of 15-20. Republicans would need an electorate like 2010 and the same advantage with independents. They're not going to get that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Redistricting: The Presidential Race

The U.S. Census numbers came out today. Those are conservative cheers you’re hearing today. Assuming the Republicans win all the states they won in 2008, the GOP has picked up 6 electoral votes. If Republicans lose any of those states, Obama will have won. Of course that only changes the gap from 192 to 180, not exactly close to a win. The path to victory will have to include Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina, all close losses.

The likely 2012 swing states will be Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire. All these states went to Obama, but all of them will have a Republican governor and Republican control of both houses of the legislature. If one candidate takes three of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan, he’ll win. If the candidates split those four states, 20 electoral votes will be left with New Hampshire, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The candidate winning Florida might only need win the smallest of the states, New Hampshire, to get to 270 electoral votes.

I don’t think Nevada, Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, or New Mexico will be swing states, because the 2010 elections were more split. Seven of those were won by Obama in 2008, with Minnesota, Maine, and New Mexico were the best for the GOP in 2010.

2012: Colorado

Senate: None
Legislature: Republicans +6 (+22%)
State Senate: Republicans +1 (+7%)
House: Democrats 3 Republicans 4
Redistricting: Split

Republicans made significant gains in Colorado in 2010, picking up the two most rural Colorado congressional seats and enough legislature seats to give the GOP the majority in that house. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking this is a Republican comeback state. The electorate was 33% Democratic/28% Republican/39% independent. This marks the first time there were more Democrats than Republicans in a Colorado electorate. Of the 28 states with exit polls either this November or November 2009, Colorado had the biggest shift away from Republicans compared to both 2008 and 2004.

The only reason Republicans did so well was because they took independents by a 53%-37% spread and independents are the largest group in the state. If independents fall more equally the GOP will get beat in this state. They may still be able to hold onto the state’s rural congressional districts, both of which voted for McCain in 2008. I see little chance of putting this state back in the GOP presidential column. Colorado is the least likely of all the ten states Bush won in 2004 or 2000 to flip back to the Republicans. Even Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, none of which Bush won either time, are more likely to flip Republican. The GOP would be wise to put its resources into another state.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2012: Michigan

Senate: Stabenow (D)
Legislature: Republicans +20 (+47%)
State Senate: Republicans +5 (+24%)
House: Democrats 6 Republicans 9
Redistricting: Republican

The GOP hasn’t won Michigan in a Presidential race since 1988. They’ve lost 12 of the last 13 senatorial elections since 1972. Yet there’s reason for optimism for the GOP. Michigan currently has roughly the same number of people it had 10 years ago. It may end up being the only state in the union with no population growth during that period. The reason why that’s good news for the GOP is that the Democratic areas in and around Detroit have seen a mass exodus of people, while the Republican areas in the rest of the state have actually had population growth.

Republicans control redistricting due to their big 2010 gains and it shouldn’t be hard to make a Democratic seat the one that the state loses. The black majority 13th and 14th congressional districts have shed a lot of people and will have to take in the more ethnic areas in the 15th and 9th to remain majority minority. This will likely mean that the 15th district is split up with Dearborn and Romulus going into the 14th, Ann Arbor into the 7th, and the rest of the district into the 11th. John Dingell is the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, but he’ll likely have an uphill fight if he runs for re-election again. He makes his home in Dearborn. If it is in a majority minority district, Dingel would have little choice but to run against Republicans Thad McCotter in the 11th or Tim Walberg in the 7th.

Both of these districts represent opportunities for the Democrats. Obama won both of these districts. Bush won them in 2004 and both have a current Republican PVI. Even after adding some of the most Democratic areas from the 15th to the 14th, the 7th and 11th figure to be more Democratic in 2012. Republicans should have a 9-5 congressional advantage after 2012, but it’s not hard to see a more favorable Democratic delegation in a more Democratic year. Obama’s worst 2008 showing in any Michigan district was 48%.

Stabenow is vulnerable to a strong candidate and polled as a toss-up recently. The Republicans’ best hope for a strong showing in Michigan would be Michigan native Mitt Romney on the Presidential ticket in 2012.

Republicans don’t need a swing to the right as great as 2010, but with a rightward swing in the electorate they could win the state for the Presidential and Senate elections, and a big majority for congress. Of course, it could go all Democratic. That’s why they call it a swing state.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

House Voting

The charts below cover 111 House districts that have been competitive in the last four elections.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swing States

The term "swing states" implies that a state could go either way in the Presidential election. Some of the states that were considered swing states during the Bush years certainly weren't in 2008. Bush won Iowa, but Obama won it by 9 points. Bush nearly won Michigan and Pennsylvania, while McCain wasn't competitive in either. Republicans romped in Michigan, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and New Hampshire this year. Obama won all nine in 2008. If they're swing states in 2012, the election is a toss-up. Below I have red states, blue states, and toss-ups. There are 16 toss-ups here. Whoever wins the majority likely will win the election.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Mitt Romney Already Has The Republican Nomination

It really is over. Some people haven't accepted it. But it is. I'm not a Mitt Romney fan, but I can't deny the facts. The important states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, because they are going to happen in February. Iowa and Nevada are limited to those who participate in caucuses. History tells us that if a candidate doesn't win at least one of these, they're likely to drop out.

Iowa - There's a potential issue for Mitt with Republican activists, but his organization excelled at caucuses. He lost only two, Iowa and West Virginia. Despite having little appeal in Iowa, Romney managed to finish a strong second to Huckabee. I'd anticipate him doing at least that well. He knows how to do caucuses.

New Hampshire - Last time he ran up against McCain here. This time there won't be anyone who is popular locally. In a poll taken last month Romney got 40% of the vote, more than Palin, Gingrich, and Huckabee got combined. This is New England and should be a slam dunk.

Nevada - Mitt's win wasn't nearly as big here, but he was still ahead of Gingrich 34%-21%. Nevada is 7% Mormon. Nearly all of those are Republicans and they turn up heavier in a caucus. Romney could get more than 20% of the vote just with Mormons. So he really doesn't need a lot more help that that.

South Carolina may be troubling for Romney, but he may already have two firsts and a second or possibly three firsts. The field will narrow and he'll have momentum. He'll be playing downhill.

The Truman Projection

When I looked at the House last week, I looked at Presidents who were elected and then ran for re-election in order to compare apples to apples with Obama. New Presidents average 16.6 House seats above normal, while re-elected Presidents average 6.4. Since "normal" for Democrats right now is 208 seats, regaining the House would be less likely than Republicans maintaining control. It is, however, the best metric for Democrats, even though one of the 7 Presidents was enough above normal for the Democrats to regain the House.

There were several Presidents I excluded, because they didn't win an election before being re-elected.

Gerald Ford - His predecessor resigned amid scandal, hurting his party. That's not going to happen.

Lyndon Johnson - His predecessor was assassinated. That's not going to happen either.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Due to the uniqueness of the times, it's difficult to pin down what normal was. In 1936 he gained 12 seats to go to 334. In 1940 he gained 5 seats to go to 267. In 1944 he gained 20 seats to go to 242. This was the Great Depression, of course, and things didn't get that bad.

Harry Truman is the only President not initially elected who could be indicative. He served only a few months shy of a full term. He experienced mid-term elections and got slaughtered, giving the Republicans control of the House and Senate. Obama's mid-term drop was a bit larger than any of the others listed Thursday, but Truman's was the bottom falling out. Of course, Truman came roaring back and gained 75 seats, giving the Democrats 263. That would be a total more in line with a new President, not re-election.

Why Truman is a good projection for Obama:
1. He couldn't have been more popular than Obama was at his initial election. We know he was more unpopular than Obama was at the mid-term. So if Harry Truman can do it, surely Obama can.

2. He lost control of the House and was able to frame the "do nothing" Republicans as the cause for the country's problems. Obama also lost the House in his mid-term. Of course, Eisenhower and Clinton did as well. Neither regained it when they won re-election.

Why Truman is a poor projection for Obama:
1. In this era, normal was a significant Democratic majority. So while 263 was more than could be expected, the Democrats had a lot of gimmes which were going to come back to them no matter what. Republicans had 4 seats in West Virginia, 3 in Kentucky, 28 in Pennsylvania, 20 in Illinois, 19 in Ohio, and 14 in California. This was unsustainable. Normal now is Republicans in a majority.

2. Republicans control redistricting in much of the country. 1948 wasn't a redistricting year, so the GOP couldn't shore up their 1946 gains.

3. Republicans had been shellacked in the last 4 Presidential elections and hadn't had above 209 reps in 18 years. Now a GOP majority is the norm.

4. The Democrats had a "solid south" in those days. Republicans didn't have any seats in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, or Florida. The Democrats had few seats that potentially could be competitive and the Republicans had to defend huge delegations in a few states.

A Truman projection is possible, but I consider it highly unlikely.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2012: Iowa (Second Look)

Last month I mentioned that despite getting 56% of the congressional vote the Republicans only had 2 of the 5 seats. I decided to draw a new map to find out what the impact would be. Iowa is drawn by an independent commission with importance placed on counties not being split between congressional districts. The map below attempts to draw the districts the way the commission might.

1st District - The new 1st retains almost all of its districts, losing only Jones to the 2nd. It grabs 11 lightly populated counties from the 4th and 1 from third.

2nd District - The 2nd district picks up seven 3rd district counties and one from the 1st.

3rd District - The 3rd retains Des Moines as its anchor but has to move west and pick five 4th district counties, including Story County that has 4th District congressman Tom Latham's Ames home.

4th District - The new 4th has all the current 5th's counties and picks up the remaining 11 from the 4th.

I took each county's congressional vote and re-assigned it as Republican and Democratic votes in the new configuration. These are the changes:

The 5th district is mostly the new 4th district, with all of Steve King's voters. He'd likely run in the 4th and actually expand his margin with new Republican voters coming in.

If the counties had been set up this way in 2010 Republicans would've won 3 of the 4 districts and come close on the 4th. Of course this was a Republican year. It's unlikely 2012 will favor the Republicans as much. The more important thing to look at is that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd absorb the remainder of the 50,000 Republican edge, so each will be more Republican than it is now. They'll be harder for the Democrats to win than they would be if the map was untouched. Leonard Boswell and Tom Latham would both have their homes in the new 3rd, setting up a likely match-up. While this new district had more Republican votes in 2008, a majority of those will not have been in Latham's district. The "new Republicans" who voted for Brad Zaun should move to Latham.

I see this as being 3-1 Republican after 2012, possibly 4-0. At worst it'll be 2-2. In all those scenarios the Democrats lose at least one seat.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rating the Pollsters

People on the left spent the year yelling that Rasmussen was really a Republican pollster that was influencing the election. I doubt the polls had any effect. People don't make up their mind based on a poll. There were races where all the pollsters were wrong. Did people not listen to those polls?

I took all the gubernatorial and senate polls published within three weeks of the election. That's close enough to be a pollster's best effort, considering early voting had started. There were 10 pollsters that polled at least 7 races, with Rasmussen leading the pack with 45 polls. They only failed to poll the Minnesota gubernatorial contest.

When it came to accuracy, the poll being within 4 points of the final result, the pollsters didn't do very well. This should be within the margin of error. I'd expect the pollsters to be within 4 points one way or another. Yet all of the pollsters except Quinnipiac and Mason Dixon were within the range of 47%-61%. Quinnipiac was better. Mason Dixon was worse. I wouldn't trust any of these pollsters for the next election.

When we set aside the spread and only look at the pollster getting the correct winner, the pollsters did better. Here 8 of the 10 pollsters were above 80%, with 5 of them being between 86%-90%.

When it comes to bias, the critics were correct. Rasmussen had a Republican bias, with their polls being 3.3 points more Republican than the final results. They were no more Republican biased than McClatchy/Marist, Reuters/Ipsos, or Fox News. Fox used a subsidiary of Rasmussen for their polls, however. Suffolk, on the other hand, had a 3.0 bias in favor of the Democrats. I'd normally expect the pollsters to have similar numbers on each side of the bias curve, but it seems they were the ones who were influenced by the narrative and adjusted their polls too far to the Republicans.

Mason Dixon and CNN/Time had the least bias. It's worth noting, however, that Mason Dixon was the worst pollster. Their polls were inaccurate, but they were as likely to be biased in favor of the Republicans as they were the Democrats. Three of their polls were biased an average of 6 points to the Republicans, while four were biased an average of 5.3 points in favor of the Democrats. I'll take a biased pollster who is more accurate over one that could be way off in either direction. At least I know how to adjust Rasmussen's polls.

Who was the best? Quinnipiac was accurate most often, did fairly well picking the correct winner, and didn't have a strong bias.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2012: House

The big question is whether the Republicans will retain the House in 2012. The answer is almost certainly yes. Remember that I said it was definitely flipping this year and that the Senate wouldn't. Here's by the numbers:

Redistricting net impact: No net seat change
McCain PVI+: Republicans 228 Democrats 207
Bush 04 PVI+: Republicans 237 Democrats 198
Era Average: Republicans 227 Democrats 208
Obama wins Re-election: Republicans 220 Democrats 215
Obama loses Re-election: Republicans 237 Democrats 198

I don't see redistricting helping either party too much. The Republicans control a number of redistricting plans, but they have so many seats in those states that any redistricting will just make sure they don't lose seats. Republicans have a 19-6 advantage in Florida. The state will gain one or two seats. No one knows how Fair Districts Florida will impact the districts but it's safe to say that the GOP will have a difficult time retaining such an advantage. Even in a good year I could see Republicans ending up 17-10.

Texas is similar. The GOP has a 23-9 advantage. They'll have to help their most vulnerable members. To do so, they'll create a map that'll likely result in a 25-11 or 24-12 GOP lead. Despite control of the redistricting process in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Republicans are so overextended that they're likely to lose two seats in those three states. Republicans simply have too many seats concentrated in certain states to benefit even if they're drawing the lines.

McCain and Bush PVI are the number of districts that Republicans did better than +2.5 points with Bush and -6.4 points with McCain. Since 1994 the Republicans have averaged 227 seats.

People talk a lot about coattails. They aren't as strong in a re-election.

Since World War II new Presidents have averaged about a +16.6 from the expected number of seats. Obama's coattails were longer than anybody else has had. That could indicate he'll bust out of the expected number in re-election.

The coattails disappear in mid-terms. While it's been depicted that a President gets clobbered in mid-terms it's really just him losing the seats he won when he was elected. A return to normal. Not only did Obama do better when he was elected but he was the most below expected in mid-terms. So maybe the Obama magic isn't ever lasting.

When a President runs for re-election his coattails aren't nearly as long. If he wins his party ends up around 6.4 seats over expected. Reagan, Nixon, and Eisenhower all won re-election in landslides, doing significantly better than they did win originally elected. Their congressional totals averaged 8 above expected, compared to the 19 they had in the original election.

I'm almost certain the Democrats will gain seats in 2012. In worst case scenario above they're +5. In best case, they're +22. It's conceivable Obama is on the high end. If he equals Nixon the Democrats take the majority. Of course he also had the worst mid-terms too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2012: Senate

Any way you slice it, 2012 looks like a tough year for Senate Democrats. They have 21 Democratic and 2 independents who caucus with them up for re-election. Even excluding the 2 independents, Democrats have a -11 margin of seats to defend. That's never been easy. Here are all the times since World War II one party has had to defend 8 or more seats than the other party has had to defend.

At first glance this doesn't look so bad. While there have been times when a party defending a significant number of seats has lost a lot, it doesn't happen all the time and the average is only 5.9. Six of these elections are mid-terms. Comparing a mid-term to a Presidential election is apples and oranges because the election and electorate are different.

The six Presidential years are actually better for the party with more seats than the mid-terms. Excluding the mid-terms favors the Democrats. Of course there are two Presidential elections which have circumstances that won't be repeated. In 1963, a popular Democratic President was assassinated. Strong sympathy for him prevented his party's losses. In 1976 the Republicans were coming off Watergate and couldn't take advantage of the differential. The other four Presidential elections have one thing in common, the Presidency changed parties. In 2008 and 1968 the Presidents were far more unpopular than Obama is today. The other two years, 1960 and 1980, the opposition candidate proved to be far more popular than he was thought to be even a year before. His strength led to his party's strong showing.

So let's approach this from a different perspective. How did the President's party do when the President faced re-election. Here I've excluded 1964 and 1976 because of circumstances and because that President had no initial election baseline.

This contains an interesting mix of Presidents. Eisenhower, Reagan, and Nixon were re-elected in landslides. Bush 43 and Clinton won closer elections. Carter and Bush 41 lost. It's difficult to say that Obama, Nixon, and Reagan underperformed in their election campaigns. While they didn't take more than the differential, they all made significant gains. If this were a new election, such a big differential wouldn't be as important.

As expected, almost all the Presidents underperformed two years later. It's tough to regard Clinton's +2 very highly because he lost 8 seats.

Reagan, Nixon, and Eisenhower didn't have the huge differential Obama has in 2012. Even their landslides were unable to prevent some losses due to a negative differential. Jimmy Carter and Bush 41 lost re-election and that hurt their party in the senate. Obama's coattails in 2008 only resulted in 20 Democratic wins vs. 15 Republican wins. If re-elections are at all telling, even a strong performance in re-election likely won't prevent a loss of 7-11 seats.

If you're looking for a more pleasant answer for Democrats, vulnerability is a good way to look. States were grouped based on how Republican or Democratic the state is. In 2010 Democrats only lost 75% of the most vulnerable states and half of the moderately vulnerable states. Repeating this they'd lose 8.2 seats. The Republicans, on the other hand, had 4 moderately vulnerable and 14 low vulnerability seats in 2010. In 2012, Maine and Massachusetts will be much better opportunities for Democrats than anything this year. Picking them up would limit the losses to 5 or 6.

My current analysis has the Democrats at a net loss of 5 seats. That'd be lower than these other historical indicators but still enough to cause them to lose the Senate.

Wait a second, a Democrat might say. If you count Lieberman and Sanders as Democrats the Democratic party went 24-9 in 2006. If these guys were good enough to win in 2006 why couldn't they be good enough again? Circumstances are far different. In 2006 you had an unpopular Republican President, an unpopular scandal ridden Republican congress, a disillusioned Republican base, and a war that energized Democrats. Obviously an unpopular President won't be a problem for Republicans. They only control one house of congress. At worst they're not likely to be that unpopular again. The Republican base seems unlikely to be disillusioned this time around. Democrats could once again be energized, but without the other factors winning anything close to 24 races is extremely unlikely.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stuff White People Like Part II

The House map shows a high concentration of Democratic House seats in three areas, the northeast corridor, the upper Midwest, and the west coast. The northeast corridor runs from the DC metro area through eastern Maryland, Delaware, the city of Philadelphia, New York City, and then up to New England. I separated out western New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, areas that have little in common with the eastern parts of their states. I did throw South Florida in because a lot of the residents are transplanted from the northeast. Despite some gains here, the Republican Party still trails the Democrats by a count of 58-16.

The next group is in the upper Midwest, starting at Northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. While the Democrats lost both houses of the legislatures in 5 of these states and the governor’s mansion in 4, they still hold 27 seats. Nineteen of these are in the Chicago area or in the Detroit to Cleveland corridor, very urban areas.

Including only the more urban districts close to the coast, Democrats dominate the west by a 45 to 13 margin. In these three areas Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House by a 130 to 49 margin. One problem is that these states will lose 6-8 seats in the next redistricting.

The remainder of the country outside these four smaller areas is dominated by the Republicans. The GOP has 193 districts to the Democrats’ 62. Of those 62, 25 are gerrymandered majority minority districts that pack as many Blacks/Hispanics/Democrats in as possible. In districts where there’s a white majority Republicans have a 193 to 37 lead. Ten of those are in the areas of Pennsylvania and New York outside of the Philadelphia and New York City areas. They could’ve been included there but since Republicans picked up ten of their seats in this election they more closely fall into this grouping.

In 2012 the Democrats have 15 states for 187 electoral votes pretty much assured. The Republicans have 18 states for 152 in their column. To win, the Democrats will have to 83 electoral vote from the remaining toss-ups states.

Nine of the top ten states in minority (i.e. Democratic) populations are not expected to be competitive.

If they once again lose the white vote dramatically in these states, that could prove difficult.

Stuff White People Like Part I

Democrats talk about how “the future is ours.” Their reasoning is that between their advantage with the 18-29 year old group and the increase in Hispanic population in the U.S. will give them a permanent majority.

I looked at the youth vote last week. Of course Democrats don’t have a permanent lock on Hispanics. We don’t know how they’ll vote in 20 or 30 years. What will matter for 2012, 2014, and 2016 is how the electorate is today. Today, Hispanics aren’t a group that you want for your core base. Because they don’t vote. Despite an increasing share of the population, the electorate was 8% Hispanic in 2010, the same share they had in 2006 and 2004. They were slightly higher in 2008, 9%, but even then they underindexed massively to their share of the population.

There are likely a number of reasons for this. Many Hispanics, whether documented or not, aren’t eligible to vote. Those that are may not be familiar with the process or not regard voting very highly. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to change any time soon.

White people, on the other hand, like to vote. They overindexed Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians even in 2008. In the next few years white people will likely continue to make up around three quarters of the electorate. Right now this is the most desirable group.

Andrew Jackson founded the Democratic party largely with rural whites. As industrialization got bigger urban white working class people became a bigger share of the party. Rightly or wrongly these groups feel as if the Democratic Party has abandoned them with a focus on issues like global warming and gay rights. While it’s great to be a party of Blacks and Hispanics, you can’t win elections without the white vote. In 2006 and 2008 the Democrats got 48% and 46% of the white vote. This year they managed only 38%. This may be an anomaly, as white conservatives showed up at the polls and white liberals stayed home. If they continue to take Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and others by similar margins and those groups show up as they did in 2008, Democrats can take a majority of votes with around 41-42% of whites. That should be a doable number, as they got at least that share in the last five Presidential elections. Being just over 50% may not be good enough, however. Because Democrats are so concentrated in certain states/congressional districts they'll need to do better than that. A minimum of 51% of the vote will likely be necessary.

The problem, as I’ll show in the next post is that where the Democrats are doing well with whites largely doesn’t matter.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Senate Effect on the House

Two months ago I told you that your senator had no coattails. There's no evidence he did. Below are the senate and gubernatorial results with how the Republicans did in the House. I included 113 races that were expected to be competitive, 103 Democratic, 10 Republican. The GOP won 72 of those races, a 64% clip. Anything above that may have had senate or gubernatorial help. If they fell below, there wasn't enough help.

Republicans picked up the House seats they targeted in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and South Dakota. These were all Republicans strongholds. So the top of the ticket may have helped, but I think this year they didn't need it. Despite a very strong showing in Georgia, however, the GOP was only 1 for 2. Iowa And Arizona are swing states, where you'd hope the top of the ticket would help. Yet, the GOP was below average in Arizona and struck out in Iowa.

These next groups had either a strong GOP performance and a weak one or middle of the road performances in one or both races.

The Republicans did much better here. If you exclude Minnesota and Maine, they were at 85%. Even with those two, they were at 79%. It's difficult to see how the top of the ticket took the bottom, however. Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, John Boozman, Kelly Ayotte, and Jim Demint all won by hefty margins, but the GOP was mediocre in the gubernatorial race. If the senator didn't help the gubernatorial candidate, did he help the congressional candidate?

You have a chicken and egg question here. Republicans don't do well in most of these states. Was it the electorate or the senate candidate that won so many of these races for the Democrats?

The last group is an interesting mix. There was no senate or gubernatorial race in any of them. Yet Republicans did very well in these states and only one of these seats was a gimme.

Republicans were the strongest when they didn't have a completely strong top of the ticket or when there was no top of the ticket. The top of the ticket may have helped in some instances, but it wasn't a strong indicator across the board.

Looking at these numbers it's possible that a strong top of the ticket helped the Democrats stem off some losses, but all except one in the bottom tier is a dark blue state. Democrats here don't need a top of the ticket to win races. Senators and governors at the top of the ticket may help sometimes and might not other times. Yet if we see strong candidates in these slots in the future, that won't indicate how the party will do.

Presidential candidates are a completely different story. Obama's effect on senatorial and House races in 2008 was strong and may well be again in 2012.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Youth Vote

One of the arguments for Democrats being the future is that they have a huge stranglehold on the 18-29 year old group. These people will continue to be Democrats and they'll have a huge advantage with new 18-29 year olds. Below is an estimate of the raw vote of each party for House of Representative elections 2004-2010. I used House elections rather than Presidential elections, because the Presidential election is influenced by who is running. That guy won't be running in ten years. The House member, or someone similar, should be.

From 2004 to 2006 both parties lost around 4.1 million voters who stayed home. I know that some people entered and others exited this group, but if the Democrats are going to maintain this dominance the incoming voters have to vote just like the outgoing ones. Some may have switched from one party to another, but I don't have any data on that.

In 2008, Democrats got 8 million new 18-29 year old voters, while Republicans got less than 4 million. In 2010, Republicans got a similar number of voters as they had in 2006, while the Democrats had 600,000 less. Overall, Democrats lost 8.7 million 18-29 voters, while Republicans lost 3.8 million. Democrats actually had over 600,000 less voters than they did in 2006, while Republicans had 22,000 more.

If the Democrats are going to keep these voters they can't count on Buch or Obama to be on the ballot in future elections. Winning this group 58%-42%, as they did in 2010 is still very good if not the dominant position of 2008. In 2010 they did similarly with the 30-49 segment as they did in 2004. Obviously only 20% of the 30-49 year old group is made up of people who were 18-29 in 2006. So it's not significant enough to have that big an impact. If the 18-29 vote was going to translate they should be doing a little bit better with 30-49 than they were in 2006. Yet they were worse.

But it was a Republican year, you might argue. You can't expect the Democrats to do as well. I'd expect Republican votes to go up, but expect that the Democrats would be similar to 2006. The drop off, as a percentage of voters, was worse than the Republicans had going from a good Republican year in 2004 to a bad one in 2008. If the Democrats are to have a stranglehold on the ballot box, the voters will have to show up not just in years where they're voting against George Bush or for Barack Obama. It's likely some were voting for reasons other than ideology. They aren't committed Democrats.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More California Redistricting

I took a further look at California redistricting. There is currently only one district where John McCain got more than 56% of the vote. That's not nearly as surprising as I thought it'd be. He didn't even hit 56% in any district in New York or Illinois and Republicans now control as many as 20 districts in those two states once all recounts are done. So clearly having a huge voter advantage isn't necessary for Republicans to win seats. Still, McCain won Ed Royce's district by 4 points. If Royce's new district is one Obama won by 4, then it could be a lot more difficult for the Republican to win.

The commission is unlikely to consider a district's current configuration when making new ones. Some districts are so heavily gerrymandered that a new district will be a far different shape. A congressman may find himself running in a district that has few of his old voters. Will they choose what district to run in based on which won has the most people who voted for him before or based on where they live? Will they trip over themselves to run in the most heavily Republican district in the area?

Darrell Issa is from Vista and has been in congress since 2001. Vista is in the southwest corner of the 49th district. It stretches up into Orange and Riverside Counties and takes in a lot of Republicans. Brian Bilbray represented a similar 49th district until he lost re-election in 2000. He's from Carlsbad and now represents the 50th. His Carlsbad home is in the northwest corner of the district. These two cities are less than nine miles apart. They are similar enough that there's no reason why they should be in different districts. They probably won't be. Will the two run against each other in a primary? Will one run in a neighboring district that he'll have to move into? What if one is more Republican? Will they draw straws?

Pitting two incumbents against each other in a primary is an old redistricting trick that may be used in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. California may have such different districts that this could happen multiple times.

Friday, November 19, 2010

2012: California

Senate: Feinstein (D)
Legislature: Democrats +1 (+1%)
State Senate: Republicans +1 (2%)
House: Democrats 34 Republicans 19
Redistricting: Commission

Like Connecticut and Massachusetts California was a mine field for Republicans this year. They didn’t even have the legislative success they had in New England. Running statewide is ridiculously expensive, so the Republicans usually field an unimpressive slate. This year was different. There were quality candidates running for all the statewide positions. They all lost 57%-39% or thereabout. Even against candidates like Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer who don’t get liberals excited. Even a good candidate, Steve Cooley, might lose to a mediocre one, Kamala Harris.

Dianne Feinstein is a far better campaigner than Barbara Boxer. If she runs again in 2012 I can’t imagine many Republicans lining up to face her. Even if she retires, the odds are long. I can’t imagine Republicans putting a lot of money into California again.

California has an electorate and it has politicians. The two have little to do with each other. Republicans and Democrats have one thing in common, a dislike of Sacramento and our politicians. Politicians in California get in office and they stay for life. Seriously. Thirty six representatives have been in Congress for more than a decade, many of them 20 years or more. Eleven of the seats that opened did so because the rep died, there was a scandal, or they took a job with the administration.

Sacramento used to be the same way. So the electorate passed term limits for the legislature and state senate. A politician can serve six years in the legislature and eight in state senate. This produces a mad scramble as those term limited in one chamber scurry for the other. After 14 years they would like to try to move up to congress, but those seats are unavailable.

In 2008, the Democrats picked up 4 seats in the legislature and none in the senate. This year Democrats picked up 1 seat in the legislature and Republicans 1 in the senate. In every other state there were wild swings in the seats. In the last 10 years one congressional seat has changed parties.

Ten years ago when the Democrats controlled redistricting, they set out to draw districts that protected incumbents. So they packed as many Democrats as they could into 33 districts. And it worked, because Republicans never took a seat.

All that will change because redistricting for the legislature and congress has been handed to a citizen’s commission. No one knows how that’ll impact congress or the legislature. Many people think that because the Democrats no longer control redistricting it’ll favor Republicans.

Once the Democratic districts are unpacked and spread out normally I expect the new configuration to favor Democrats. There’ll be a number of safe Democratic districts in L.A. and the Bay area, but probably few really safe Republican districts. There just isn’t that huge a concentration of Republicans anywhere in the state. I think there could be anywhere from 15-20 districts up for grabs. In a Democratic year this could result in a 42-11 advantage. In a Republican year it could mean a 29-24 split. In a normal year I think it’ll be around 35-18. For once it should be interesting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Redistricting Net Impact on House Seats

Some people have speculated redistricting will lead to a 20-30 seat GOP gain, while others say about 12. I think it'll be more modest. When you pick up 60+ seats there aren't many opportunities left.

States with Small Delegations
Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota Wyoming, and New Hampshire

These states all have 1 or 2 congressional districts. This makes it extremely difficult to gerrymander any seat toward a particular party.

States with no Opportunity
Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama

The Republicans control everything in all these states but they already have 24 of the 29 districts. Of those 3 are majority minority districts, so Republicans have to gerrymander them to get more Black Democrats in, not out. Oklahoma-2 is already very Republican. So no gerrymander is going to win the seats. It’s conceivable the Republicans could try to gerrymander the Nashville based Tennessee-5, but they would risk the three surrounding districts, two of which they just won.

States with commissions
Iowa, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, New Jersey, California

These states are drawn up with some or total independence from the legislature. It’s likely that the GOP will fair better in Iowa, New Jersey, and California, while the Democrats will do so in Arizona and Washington. Overall redistricting may end up being a push with Democrats losing seats in Iowa and New Jersey and picking them up in Washington and Arizona. California is anybody’s guess since it has so many gerrymandered seats right now. I don’t see a definite net gain either way.

States with Republican control
South Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Utah

Republicans should pick up the new seat in Utah and South Carolina and be able to redistrict themselves into four seats in Georgia and North Carolina.

It’s conceivable the Republicans could gerrymander an advantage in Wisconsin-3, but the two neighboring districts, the 7th and 4th, are slightly Democratic and very Democratic. If anything Republicans will want to protect the newly won 7th and be happy if they still have a 5-3 advantage after 2012.

It’s possible Republicans could make Indiana-2 more attractive by giving it some areas of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, while taking away some of the Democrats in the north. Governor Mitch Daniels has already expressed that he won’t sign a heavily gerrymandered plan.

Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are three states with little opportunity for Republicans. They already have a 34-18 seat advantage and these three states lose four districts. There are no more districts to squeeze out and even the best gerrymander will likely result in a loss of a seat in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Florida and Texas have already been heavily gerrymandered for the Republicans. Florida has their new “Fair Districts Florida” amendment designed to prevent a gerrymander. It does, however, leave the redistricting in Republican hands. With a 19-6 advantage currently, a non-gerrymandered map could result in a 17-10 advantage after the two new districts are added.

Right now Republicans have a 23-9 congressional advantage in Texas, a greater advantage than they’d have if the districts weren’t already gerrymandered. All of the Democratic controlled districts having at least 45% minority populations. Republicans may pick up two of the four seats added, but if they come out with a 25-11 split they should be considered lucky.

Overall, Republicans should have a net gain of 4-6 seats in these states.

States with Democratic Control
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arkansas, Illinois, West Virginia

The good news here is that Republicans have no seats to lose in Connecticut or Massachusetts, Maryland is already gerrymandered for a maximum Democratic delegation, And both Arkansas and West Virginia have become so Republican on a national level the Democrats will have trouble gerrymandering them out of a seat. If anything they’ll gerrymander to keep the two seats they still have.

Republicans have 11 of the 19 Illinois seats right now. The good news is that the GOP has every non-Chicago district except the East St. Louis 12th. So the Democrats would be shuffling people from one Republican controlled district to another. That said, some are more Democratic than others and Illinois loses a seat. If Republicans finish the next election with a 9-9 split, a two seat loss, they should consider themselves lucky.

States with Split Control
Missouri, Louisiana, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia, New York, New Mexico

Despite neither party being able to gerrymander, this group is going to be a net negative for the GOP. Either Missouri or Minnesota lose a seat, while Louisiana loses one, and New York may lose two. Because Republicans have all of Louisiana’s non-minority majority districts, they’ll lose one there. They could end up a net 2-3 seat loss with these states.

Based on redistricting, my guess is that the republicans pick up only a seat or two. Of course, with an expected net gain of 64 seats this year, no redistricting plan is going to produce big gains in 2012. Based on my analysis of each party’s districts, I’d expect 2012 to be within a few of no net gain for either party. Of course that’s without knowing if either party will have the wind at their back.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2012: Pennsylvania

Senate: Casey (D)
Legislature: Republicans +13 (+6%)
State Senate: Republicans No change
House: Democrats 7 Republicans 12
Redistricting: Republicans

The 2012 Presidential and congressional elections will likely hinge on a group of 6 states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa) that Obama won in 2008. Democrats won all 8 of the Senate seats that were up in these states in 2006 and 2008. This year Republicans took 5 of the 6 governor races and went from controlling 3 of the 12 legislative house to controlling 11. Democrats narrowly held the Iowa state senate. If Obama loses 3 of these states in 2012 he likely won't win the Presidency.

Bob Casey won the Senatorial race by 17 points, the largest margin of victory for any seat the Democrats took from the Republicans. This year the Republicans had a candidate with questionable across state appeal, while the Democrats had a charismatic former admiral. The GOP won by 2 points. Tom Corbett won the governor's mansion by 9 points. No Republican has expressed an interest in challenging Casey yet, but after 2010 I guess there will be several lining up.

Redistricting is controlled by the Republicans again. In 2002 their controlled shifted the congressional delegation from 11-10 Republicans to 12-7 Republicans. By 2008 Democrats had reversed that to a 12-7 advantage. After the November 2 election Republicans once again held 12 of the 19 seats. Outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a number of mid-size cities that skew Democratic and rural areas that skew Republican.

The GOP could gerrymander the state so that they'd have a 14-4 Republican delegation in a good Republican year. In a strong Democratic year, the state could swing to a 12-6 or 13-5 Democratic advantage regardless of how the Republicans try to gerrymander the state. If it falls somewhere in the middle the Republicans could see their 12-7 advantage reduced to 10-8. There's no way to protect incumbents in many of the districts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Party of Youth?

When Barack Obama was elected President Democratic friends asked, repeatedly, who the Republican Party leader was. They decided it was Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck because, well, those are the sort of decisions they get to make. Of course when a party gives up the White House, House, and Senate it doesn't usually have a leader. George Bush, Dennis Hastert, Tom Delay, and Bill Frist had all left the scene after the losses.

Of course we went looking for the next Republican leaders, the Republican Barack Obama. We had Sarah Palin, controversial, sure, but young dynamic, and charismatic. We had Bobby Jindal who was brilliant and young, but had already had an impressive resume. Jindal gave the response to the State of the Union in February 2009. Although no one denied his skill as a governor, the speech left a lot of people unimpressed.

It wasn't until nearly a year later before someone else emerged. Scott Brown was handsome, charismatic, and managed to topple the Democrats in Massachusetts. He was the flavor of the month. Until Chris Christie came along and started showing that the Republican way of governing was still possible and still effective. His youtube videos have been viewed by tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands.

Then Rand Paul and Kelly Ayotte emerged from the Senatorial primaries. John Thune was mentioned as Presidential material. Now Marco Rubio, only 39 years old, has become so big that people are mentioning him for a Presidential run. Before he serves a day in the Senate. Brown is the only one of these people who is over 50.

Republican leadership in the House is similary young. While John Boehner is 61, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, and Thad McCotter are all under 50. All five have been in Congress less than ten years. Long time House vets Hal Rogers, Jerry Lewis, and Joe Barton are all seeking to hold onto power. In the old days tenure was what mattered.

Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn, and Steny Hoyer are vying for the top leadership positions on the Democratic side. All are 70 years old. The rest of Democratic leadership includes John Lewis, Maxine Waters, John S. Tanner, Ed Pastor, Jan Schakowsky, Joseph Crowley, Diana DeGette, G.K. Butterfield, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John B. Larson, and Xavier Becerra. Most are in their early to mid-60s. Only Crowley is under 50. The Democratic caucus is much the way unions have been, it's seniority that counts most. Wait your turn.

Republicans, being more entrepreneurial and individualistic, aren't as deferential to the group or content to wait their turn. This week they'll add even younger members to leadership, including two freshmen.

It's difficult to come up with young up and coming Democrats. Heath Shuler is only 38 and has indicated he'll run for minority leader. Of course Shuler isn't very popular with progressives. So I don't see him as a young up and comer in the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ohio Redistricting

I wanted to follow up I set out to create a redistricting map that did the following:
1. Eliminated Jim Jordan’s district, assuming he runs for senate
2. Eliminated Betty Sutton’s district
3. Keep the district similar to how it is now since I have no idea where each candidate’s base is
4. Equal population distribution

It’s doable.

1. Bob Latta’s (R-yellow old #5-new #5) district becomes the entire northwestern part of the state, grabbing some of Jordan’s counties.

2. John Boehner’s (R-dark blue old #8-new #8) district is relatively unchanged, but adds Shelby County. I don’t want to mess with the Speaker’s district.

3. Steve Chabot’s (R-navy blue old #1-new #1) district remains about the same.

4. Mike Turner (R-purple old #3-new #3) and Jean Schmidt (green old #2-new #2) get additional counties in the east due to the population drop.

5. Steve Austria (R-gray old #7-new #7) gets two of the southern most CD #4 counties while giving up some people in the east.

6. Steve Stivers’ (R-orange old #15-new #15) district remains relatively unchanged, although he’s picking up a little more of Columbus. It isn’t enough that the district will be too Democratic.

7. Marcy Kaptur (D-light blue old #9-new #9) and Pat Tiberi (R-med. Blue old #12-new #12) get the eastern most counties in the old #4 because of population declines. They pretty much retain all their current voters.

8. Dennis Kucinich (D-pink old #10-new #10) needs to add voters, so he gets the northern most voters in the old #13.

9. Martha Fudge (D-light green old #11-new #11) also needs voters and needs to have a majority minority district due to the VRA. To do so, I stretched her district south into Akron and gave her the #13 Black voters. I know it’s tough to tell that district from the neighboring #16, but I wanted to retain the numbers and the program gave those colors

10. Freshman Jim Renacci (R-medium green old #16-new #16) picks up some voters from the #13 in Western Summit County. This could conceivably make the seat harder to retain, but it is the area west of Akron and not as urban. He also gets Richland County from #4.

11. Steve LaTourette (R-greenish tan old #14-new #14) keeps most of the same district.

12. Tim Ryan (D-tangerine old #17-new #13) gets a district very similar to the one he has now, with a bit more of Youngstown and eastern Summit County. This district was fairly blue before and should be even bluer.

13. Bob Gibbs (R-red old #18-new #4) loses some of the southern portion of his district and gains the Canton area. This is part of Jim Renacci’s district now, so I don’t think it’ll hurt him too much.

14. Bill Johnson (R-dark green) loses some of the southern portion of #6 and gains some of the southern portion of the current #18.

15. Where does this leave Betty Suttion (D old #13)? Her home is in the #16, so she could run against Jim Renacci. Her voters are mostly now in the #10 and #11, but I don’t see her running against Kucinich or Fudge. It’s too bad Renacci has to go up against a sitting representative, but he’s a freshman and the district is mostly his current constituents.

If Jordan doesn't run Republicans will be faced with a choice. They could combine much of the current #6 and #18 and have Gibbs and Johnson run against each other or move Johnson into the new #13 and have him face off against Tim Ryan in the general election. That district contains so many Democrats he'd be certain to lose. The Republicans could drop out the western most areas of the district to give Johnson a chance, but that'd weaken Gibbs and Renacci's districts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2012: Ohio

Senate: Brown (D)
Legislature: Republicans +13 (+28%)
State Senate: Republicans +2 (+10%)
House: Democrats 5 Republicans 13
Redistricting: Republicans

The Midwest was a disaster for the Democrats. Between Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio the GOP picked up 16 congressional seats, 3 governorships, and got majorities in both houses in 5 states. They had both houses in none of them before election day. If not for a sexual harassment allegation and a Nazi Re-enactor the GOP might have a 15-3 advantage in Ohio congressional seats.

In 2012 the Republicans will have to pay for their success. Ohio figures to lose two seats in redistricting. Even though Republicans control the process it'll be very difficult to eliminate two Democratic seats. If they try to eliminate Marcy Kaptur's district that hugs Lake Erie, they could endanger Bob Latta's district and lose both. It's more likely they'll break up Betty Sutton's 13th district, moving parts into the 10th, 11, and 17th. Sutton would be forced to compete with Dennis Kucinich or Tim Ryan for their seat.

The other lost seat will likely come from southeastern Ohio. The 18th district could be broken up into the 2nd, 6th, 12th, and 16th. This would likely force freshman Republican Bob Gibbs into a primary with another freshman. "Thanks for helping us get to the majority, you've lost your job." When a delegation is going to lose a seat a sitting congressman often tries for higher office rather than pitting two incumbents against each other in a primary. Jim Jordan is rumored as an opponent for Sherrod Brown in the senate race. If that happens, Republicans may try to move the current 16th and 18th districts west and split up Jordan's 4th district. That may prove tricky.

Brown is likely to be vulnerable. Republicans swept all 6 statewide offices this year and Brown only won by 12 in his election 4 years ago. Expect this race to draw a quality opponent.

Expect Ohio to be up for grabs in the Presidential race. This year Republicans outnumbered Democrats for the first time since 2004. If that holds up in 2012 Ohio becomes a swing state again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama Districts

Democrats are trying to grab onto reasons for hope. The latest one is that Republicans now control 62 districts Obama won and Democrats only control 13 McCain districts. Before the election the numbers were reversed. If Democrats can just take a majority of the difference between the two they'll likely be back in the majority. Since Republicans took "their" districts this time Democrats will take back "their" districts.

Not so fast. The baseline for the two should be their 53%-46% spread. This allows us to compare the districts to a base line average for each candidate. When we do that we find that Republicans only have 5 districts where McCain got 42% or less, and only 1 district where they got 40% or less. In that district they got 38%. If we look at districts where Obama underperformed by 4% or more, we get all the McCain districts. So Democrats have 12 very vulnerable districts to the Republicans 5.

Still skeptical? Let's look at 2004. Republicans control only 13 districts John Kerry won, 5 of which they won 46% or 47%. That's 4% or more, but caps at 5% below. Democrats control 24 districts Bush won, 7 of which John Kerry got 44% of the votes or less.They are all between 55% and 59% except 1.

Who is going to do better in 2012? We can't determine that based on the districts held, since it's fairly even and light. It'll depend on which party has the upper hand, if either. In 1996 Democrats picked up 2 seats. In 2000 they picked up 1. In 2004 Republicans picked up 3. Years like 2006, 2008, and 2010 are unusual. Since 1914 there has only been one period where there was a shift of 20 or more seats in 4 consecutive elections.

From 1942 to 1954 19 or more net seats changed hands in 7 consecutive elections. The Democrats had a bloated number of seats due to the Depression. Republicans gained a net of 29 seats in 1942 and 1944 before taking 55 and the majority in 1946. That majority bounced back to the Democrats in 1948, then back to the Republicans in 1952, before the Democrats took it back in 1954. That would make 2010 like 1948 when the majority flipped back to the previous party.

That could make 1952 comparable to 2012. The big problem with that comparison is that the Republicans took the majority again because Harry Truman was unpopular. Even though he wasn't running, he hurt his party like Bush in 2008. In 2012 the minority party's President will be seeking re-election. They voted against Truman in 1952, not for a sitting President.

2012: Massachusetts

Senate: Brown (R)
Legislature: Republicans +13 (+81%)
State Senate: Democrats +1 (-20%)
House: Democrats 10, Republicans 0
Redistricting: Democrats

Massachusetts is regarded as another disaster. It really wasn't that bad. Only one of the 9 Republican candidates was an experienced legislator/campaigner. That person, Jeff Perry, was saddled with the police misconduct charge and was never able to shake it. These were underfunded bad candidates going up against Democrats who had the first dollar of donations leftover from years of having no competition. Republicans didn't win but did get 42% of the vote in 5 of the 9 districts. In the past Republicans struggled to get 30%.

Winning a seat in Massachusetts wouldn't have been worth much. The winner would've been a moderate like Scott Brown. Republicans have a big enough majority that one more moderate who can't be counted on to vote Republican won't be missed. The state will lose a House seat and Democrats will be redistricting. If the GOP won a seat Democrats would've taken the district apart and split it up into other districts. They'll likely lose it in 2012.

The GOP went from 16 to 29 representatives in the Massachusetts State House. That number could rise to 31 or 32 after all the recounts are done. There is no state house in the country where the Republican delegation doubled. Granted, they are going from small to less small, but doubling the areas where Republicans can win has to bode well for the future. The Democrats can't make the entire state non-competitive in 2012. Maybe next time they'll have better candidates to run for Congress.

Scott Brown likely won't be favored to retain his senate seat. Martha Coakley's poor campaign and the environment helped him win. He'll have a better opponent in 2012 and won't have nearly as favorable an environment. Brown will have to mount a good campaign to win again.

2012: Connecticut

Senate: Lieberman (I-D)
Legislature: Republicans +14 (+38%)
State Senate: Republicans +1 (+8%)
House: Democrats 5, Republicans 0
Redistricting: Democrats

There's a rush to judgement that somehow the Republican wave skipped New England. Republicans took no Connecticut House seats and lost the Senate race despite Linda McMahon's heavy spending. If you stop there you only get part of the story. Tom Foley came within 7,762 votes of Dan Malloy for governor and the Republicans made big gains in the state legislature. Yes, the GOP remain way behind in the minority in the legislature, but this is a liberal state. The electorate was D+11. That's higher than 2004 D+6, but lower than the 2008 D+16.

The two western Connecticut districts, 4 and 5, were decided by 6 and 8 points. If Chris Murphy runs for the senate in 2012, the 5th district will be open and likely competitive.

The Senate race is interesting if Joe Lieberman runs for re-election. Lieberman would lose a Democratic primary, so he'd once again have to run as an independent. Progressives are unhappy with him, so they'll demand the Democrats go after him heavily. The Democrats have 21 seats to defend and opportunities in Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. They didn't lose Arizona or Tennessee by a lot in 2006. If they beat Lieberman the Democrats have no net gain in their caucus. If they don't spend a lot the winner will surely be Lieberman or the Democratic nominee.

Republicans won't be unhappy if Democrats spend a lot of money on this seat. They don't have a deep bench here and if McMahon couldn't get closer despite spending all the money she did, Connecticut isn't worth their time. I'd put it as the 16th most likely flip. Republicans are better off letting Lieberman spend his money and trying to entice him to caucus with them. I know that'll piss off the tea party crowd, but there's no reason to With 15 better opportunities there's no point in chasing a seat where Lieberman will likely get a decent share of Republicans and independents.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2012: Iowa

Senate: No Senate Race
Legislature: Republicans +16 (+16%) Flipped Democratic to Republican
State Senate: Republicans +6 (+12%)
House: Republicans 2 Democrats 3 (Same)
Redistricting: Panel (lose 1 seat)

Iowa hasn't been very inviting to the Republicans on a Presidential level. The GOP has only won the state in a Presidential race once since 1984. This year was very positive for the Republicans, however. The electorate was 35%R/31%D, better than it was in 2004 when Republicans only had a 2 point advantage. Chuck Grassley took 65% in the Senate race. Terry Barnstad won the governership by 10 points. Democrats won 3 of the 5 congressional seats, but all 3 were by narrow margins. Republicans won 56% of the congressional vote. Had the districts been drawn differently they might have won 3 or 4 seats.

In the 2011 redistricting Iowa is likely to lose a congressional seat. In Iowa an independent body proposes redistricting plans, which must then be approved by the legislature. With the legislature split and the GOP controlling the governor's mansion the commission's plan will likely be implemented. The two strongly Republican districts are contiguous, so Republicans should easily hold two of the new districts, if not take a third. Democrats will lose at least one seat.

Iowa looks a lot more positive for Republicans in 2012.