There hasn’t been as much focus on the House vote, which I think is more important. Why? The Presidential vote is heavily dependent on two people, their popularity and campaign operations. Neither of those people will be running in any House district or running for anything else again for that matter.
Mitt Romney cut Barack Obama’s margin from the 7.3% he beat John McCain in 2008 to 3.8%. That’s a gain, but still not a win. Democrats can argue that Obama had mediocre approval ratings in a mediocre economy and still managed to win comfortably.
The House vote, on the other hand, went from a 10.6% Democratic win in 2008 to a narrow 1.1% win in 2012. No matter how mediocre Obama’s approval ratings were or how mediocre the economy was, that’s a really bad direction to be headed. Yes, they won more votes, but not by much.
I’m looking at the congressional vote state-by-state because redistricting meant that the 2008 and 2012 districts were different, in some cases very different.
The good news was that it wasn’t as bad a drop as it looks. Republicans knew 2008 was going to be a tough year and failed to field candidates in some states, while Democrats fielded candidates almost everywhere. In 2012, the GOP increased their candidates in these states, while in some cases Democrats decreased theirs.
As a result, the Democrats had big drops in the vote in states where there was a big variation in the number of candidates between 2008 and 2012. In 2008, there were 10 Democratic candidates and 4 Republicans in Massachusetts. Republican share went from 12% to 24%, but it’s tough to say the GOP was a lot better. Because almost every district on the list had. The lone state moving in the Democratic direction was California, where Democrats had a bigger advantage in 2012 than 2008.
Overall, the 2008 to 2012 change in the House vote, 9.5%, was much larger than the Presidential drop off, 3.5%. The drop in competitive states, 7.8%, is smaller, but it should still be a big concern for Democrats going into the 2014 and 2016 elections.