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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Battle for the House

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is aiming to defeat seven California Republicans who represent congressional districts where Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump — including a cluster of seats in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
The committee will send staffers in charge of overseeing House races in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington to work out of an Irvine office in an effort to make inroads in Republican strongholds that have traditionally been sure bets for the GOP.
IF YOU THINK THAT ORANGE COUNTY IS A PERPETUAL SURE BET FOR THE GOP, PONDER ONE STAT:  NON-HISPANIC WHITES MAKE UP ONLY 41% OF ITS POPULATION.

In 2016, for the second election in a row, the Republican presidential nominee carried the majority of congressional districts while losing the national popular vote. President Trump carried 230 districts to Hillary Clinton’s 205, up four from Mitt Romney’s
tally of 226 districts in 2012. This helps explain why House Republicans won 49 percent of all votes to House Democrats’ 48 percent in 2016 yet won 47 more seats.
The House has become well-sorted out: only 35 of 435 districts “crossed over” to vote for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 108 in 1996. Today, there are 23 Republicans sitting in districts Clinton carried, and 12 Democrats sitting in districts Trump carried. However, this is slightly higher than the record low of 26 “crossover districts” following the 2012 election.
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The most striking House statistic in the last 20 years may be the decline of competitive districts, places where members have the greatest political incentives to work on a bipartisan basis. In 1997, our Partisan Voter Index scored 164 districts between D+5 and R+5, more than a third of the House, and greater than both the number of strongly Democratic and strongly Republican seats.
After the hyper-polarized 2016 election, there are only 72 districts between D+5 and R+5 – less than one sixth of the House and a 56 percent decline since 1997. This also represents a 20 percent decline from just four years ago, when there were 90 swing seats.