Do you want to move the needle on who controls the House? Use the cool app in the left sidebar to locate competitive House districts near you. Also, use the donation links, which lead to either major party. Democrats will gain seats – but they face a major barrier to gaining a majority.
Tonight (Wednesday), I’ll sit down for a conversation with David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. We’ll be at Princeton’s own Labyrinth Books at 6:00pm. In Ratf**ked, Daley outlines how an unprecedentedly large wave of partisan gerrymandering swept the United States after the Census of 2010 and consequent redistricting.
Gerrymandering has been around for centuries – but a combination of factors in recent years has made it more popular as a partisan team sport. Three factors have come together: powerful redistricting software, single-party control of state legislatures, and closely divided states in which the advantage of gerrymandering is maximized.
I have calculated that the net effect of partisan gerrymandering is currently 10-15 seats benefiting the Republican Party. Several analysts, including the insightful David Wasserman, think that gerrymandering, population clustering, and incomplete candidate recruitment make it impossible for Democrats to retake the House this year. Daley thinks so too.
I am not so sure. I think a national House popular-vote win margin of D+7-8% might be enough to do it, on the grounds that this would have been enough in 2012 or 2014. Who’s right? Come watch us hash it out on Wednesday evening.
Whatever is the case with gerrymandering, it is pretty certain that Republicans will lose Congressional seats this year. The national House generic ballot has fluctuated between Democrats +2% and Democrats +7.5%. It’s been following the movements of the Clinton-versus-Trump Meta-Margin. Clinton is very likely to win the November election. The size of her victory will determine what kind of House she will face.