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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Split Districts

David Hawkings reports at Roll Call:
Voters in just 35 congressional districts, or 8 percent of the total, elected a House member from one party while preferring the presidential candidate of the other party — the second election in a row where the share of ticket-splitting seats was in the single digits. Before that, 1920 was the last time the number of such crossover districts fell below one out of every nine.

The voters’ monolithic behavior was even more historic in the results for the Senate. For the first time since 1916 — which was the second election with senators chosen by popular vote — not a single state divided its political preferences. Republicans won 22 contests, all in states carried by President Donald Trump. Democrats won the other dozen races, each in a state where Hillary Clinton prevailed.
Democrats have an outside chance at the House in 2018:
For 2018, it would require a net gain of two-dozen seats. And the presidential results for every congressional district — as calculated by Daily Kos Elections — suggest a path for the Democrats getting tantalizingly close:
Start by targeting the 23 seats currently occupied by a Republican even though their voters preferred Clinton for president. And work fervently not to relinquish any of the 12 districts that voted in November for both a Democratic representative and the presidential winner.
The good news for Democrats is that the map of crossover districts where both Clinton and GOP House members prevailed is larded with places that have not produced such split-ticket results in many years — mostly suburban areas where the populations are becoming younger and more ethnically diverse.
These results suggest that Clinton’s effort to expand her party’s playing field — which helped generate her 2.9-million popular vote margin but was not sufficient for an Electoral College win — nonetheless have marked a trail for Democratic inroads in the elections ahead.
That, of course, assumes her party can find and fund viable candidates. Democrats essentially did not contest the re-elections of five Republicans representing territory that went Democratic for president for the first time in at least two decades: Ed Royce, Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher, whose districts form a crescent through Orange County east of Los Angeles; and Texans John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas, whose ethnically diversifying districts were the provinces of the Anglo business elite until relatively recently.