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Smart Politics Projections: U.S. House of Representatives

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Republicans aim to undo 2006 and 2008 election cycles in one fell swoop

Current partisan split
Democrats: 255
Republicans: 178
Vacant: 2

Analysis
With 24 Democratic districts won by less than 10 points in 2008 and another 33 decided by between 10 and 20 points, Republicans had several good departure points by which to pick off the dozens of Democratic seats they would need this cycle to recapture the U.S. House.

Of course, the reverse could also have been the case, had the first two years of the Obama administration been more warmly received by the electorate: Republicans won 26 House districts by less than 10 points in 2008 as well.

The number of Republican net gains has been projected by some analysts to potentially eclipse 70 seats. However, as this is an anti-Democratic, rather than pro-Republican political environment, not all anti-incumbent votes in Democratic districts will be cast to the GOP nominee. A record number of third-party candidates in midterm elections since the Great Depression, most of which are right-leaning, may very well dampen the extent of Republican gains, to the tune of at least a half-dozen narrowly-decided races.

Projected partisan shift: GOP +62
Partisan control: GOP controls U.S. House

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stassen in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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