Republicans, however, believe they have used congressional redistricting to shore up enough of their seats to remain in power for years to come. Rather than aggressively seek more seats, Boehner’s leadership team counseled Republican-led state legislatures to fortify those Republicans already serving on Capitol Hill.
The result has been that House Republicans start off with 190 districts that have a historic performance safely in their corner, while Democrats begin with just 146 such districts, according to an analysis by the independent Cook Political Report.
That leaves just 99 districts viewed as regularly competitive, an all-time low. Democrats will likely have to carry 72 of those 99 seats to reach the bare majority of 218.
“That’s a really bad omen for Democrats, not just this year but in future years,” said David Wasserman, the House editor for the Cook report.
Though more than 80 GOP freshmen are standing for reelection, just two dozen are facing tough challenges and only 15 are in significant danger of losing. Take Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), whose 2010 victory over a Hispanic Democratic incumbent defied the odds because the district was nearly 75 percent Latino. Legislators drew him into a new district running north of Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico, which tilts 60 percent toward Republicans.
Rather than a one-hit wonder, Farenthold, 50, could now serve in Congress for decades to come.
Similarly, the Philadelphia suburbs have served as political ground zero for past House majority battles. In 2006, the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent a combined $5 million battling over the 7th Congressional District to the west of Philadelphia, followed by another $1.3 million in 2010.And at USA Today, Susan Davis has a useful reminder:
Now, that district snakes across five suburban counties, encompassing the most Republican-leaning sectors of each, allowing freshman GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan to cruise to re-election.
Trying to assess where House races rank in the 2012 elections can be summed up by a take on the classic self-help line: It's not about them. The House has not changed majority control in a presidential election year since 1952. The past three turnovers — in 1994 for Republicans, 2006 for Democrats and 2010 back to Republicans — all occurred in midterm election years.