The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story.
Another week is down the drain in the race for the Senate, and while our overall outlook is unchanged — a five to eight seat gain for the GOP — some of our ratings are in need of adjustments.
One of these comes as a surprise, as Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is proving to be quite resilient.
A Republican at the end of 1928 could look back on the previous few decades and smile: His party was quite clearly the dominant force in American politics. Starting in 1896, Republicans had held the White House for 24 of 32 years, interrupted only by the GOP split that helped Democrat Woodrow Wilson get elected in 1912.* Another Republican, Herbert Hoover, was about to stretch that streak in the White House to 28 of 36 years.
In the House, Republicans also had held control for 24 of 32 years, and Hoover’s 444-electoral vote landslide in 1928 boosted the House GOP majority to 270 seats, a Republican edge whose size was only eclipsed by the 302-member Republican caucus elected in 1920 (the House expanded to its present 435 seats in 1913).
An old country phrase best describes the possibility of a turnout increase saving Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in an upcoming runoff: That dog don’t hunt. But it’s also far from clear whether a bigger turnout would naturally help Cochran in the runoff anyway. Mississippi Republicans voted at record levels in the regular primary, and that of course wasn’t enough to push the incumbent over 50%.
As to the first point, turnout generally falls in runoffs held after primary and general elections –significantly.
In his classic book Southern Politics in State and Nation , V.O. Key Jr. wrote about the importance of “friends and neighbors” in one-party southern elections. More than half a century after the book was written, strength at home powered yet another Deep South candidate.
Tuesday night featured about as dramatic a race as we’ve seen in recent years, which not only delighted the political hacks on Twitter but, more importantly, produced a result that suggests a victory for the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.
It’s become clear over the past few months that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), despite the increasing Republican lean of his state, has been holding his own, or better, against Rep. Tom Cotton (R, AR-4). Several positive polls for the incumbent, including a too-optimistic 11-point lead from NBC/Marist earlier this week, moved the HuffPost Pollster average in the race to 45.2% Pryor, 42.7% Cotton.
This map shows the 2014 Senate races in blue and red, with the states sized according to their population and colored based on their current occupant. (The gray states are those with no regular Senate election this year.)
Senate Class 2, the one contested this year, is far less representative of the nation as a whole than the two other classes. Its 33 states contain slightly more than half (51.8%) of the nation’s population. Class 1 (the 2012 class) also features 33 states, but those states host three-quarters (75.2%) of the population; Class 3, coming in 2016 with 34 states, is similar to Class 1, with 72.6% of the population.
Yes, we know reporters have to react to news and find ways to make it relevant, but pardon us if we didn’t gag a little bit seeing headlines about the potential impact of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy on her mother’s potential presidential campaign. Some said the baby was timed for the campaign — because everyone knows a grandkid on the knee is a guaranteed vote-getter. (That’s why Mitt Romney won in a 2012 landslide.) Others suggested the opposite: Hillary Clinton was all ready to run until this news broke: Now she and Bill will want to babysit instead of barnstorming in Iowa (puh-leeze).
To demonstrate just how Republican this year’s Senate playing field is, consider this: Of the 36 Senate elections this year (33 regularly scheduled and three specials), the Crystal Ball sees 16 as at least potentially competitive at the moment. Of those races, 14 are currently held by Democrats, and just two are held by Republicans.
One needs little more than just fingers and toes to count the number of House members who represent districts won by the other party’s presidential candidate in 2012. As mentioned here previously, just 25 House members — nine Democrats and 16 Republicans — hold such “crossover” districts. Compare that to 2004, when there were 59 such seats, or 2008, when there were 83.