Thursday, September 3, 2015

The House of Representatives Won't Flip in 2016

Minnesota Republican representative Jon Kline announced he wouldn't run for re-election today. Every time there is a Republican retirement or some other event that helps the Democrats, people wonder if this'll cause the House to flip from Republican control to Democratic control.

The answer is no.

Kline's MN-2 is a huge opportunity for Democrats. It's a district Democrats would've been a long shot to win if Kline ran but one that will be competitive with him retiring. There are three other similar districts with retiring Republicans. The problem for Democrats is that Republicans have a 59 seat edge, 247-188. Democrats need to take 30 seats from Republicans. At this point the pundits see between 21 and 26 Republican seats in play. They also see 5-9 Democratic seats in play. Even if Democrats won all their competitive seats and won all the competitive Republican seats they'd still fall short.

What if there's a wave, you ask? Maybe you're not asking, but if you're still reading you should. Or maybe you already know there won't be one. Waves happen in Presidential years as reaction to the party in the White House. The Democratic wave in 2008 was largely a reaction to an unpopular Republican President. This year there's a Democrat in the White House with middling approval numbers. In the last 30 years the party in the White House did take the majority of the popular vote twice, 1988 and 2000. Neither year resulted in gains. If there is a wave, it'll be a Republican wave as a reaction to Barack Obama. Right now that doesn't appear to be the case, although the President's approval numbers are only a little better than they were then.

Democrats netted 8 seats in 2012. I expect their gains to be in the same area in 2016. Even a few more Republican retirements won't get them from 8 to 30.