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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, December 28, 2012

More on Polarization and the House

So why is compromise so hard in the House? Some commentators, especially liberals, attribute it to what they say is the irrationality of Republican members of Congress.
But the answer could be this instead: individual members of Congress are responding fairly rationally to their incentives. Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.
He divides House districts into several categories:

  •  Landslide districts are those in which the presidential vote was at least 20 points more Democratic or Republican than in the country as a whole. 
  • Strong  districts are 10 to 20 percentage points more Democratic or Republican.
  • Lean  districts are 5 to 10 percentage points more Democratic or Republican.
  • Swing districts are within five percentage points of the national popular vote margin.

As an earlier post explained, deliberate gerrymanders are only part of the reason.  Residential concentration -- or unintentional gerrymandering -- is even more important.