Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


House Democrats Inch Closer to Becoming a Two-State Caucus

Bookmark and Share

Californians and New Yorkers will comprise a record percentage of the Democratic caucus when the 113th Congress convenes in January at nearly 30 percent

housedemocraticcaucus10.pngAlthough gains by Democrats were modest in 2012 U.S. House races - netting eight seats nationwide - the delegations from two coastal states still managed to increase their ever-growing influence on the party.

For despite the State of New York losing two seats due to reapportionment after the 2010 U.S. Census, the Democratic Party saw the percentage of its caucus from the Empire State and California delegations increase to an all-time high - now just shy of 30 percent of the 201 seats it will hold across the country in January.

A Smart Politics analysis of 83 general election cycles dating back to 1850 finds that the Democratic Party now comprises a larger percentage of Californians and New Yorkers in the U.S. House than at any point since California joined the Union.

When the 113th Congress convenes in January, 29.4 percent of the 201-member Democratic caucus will hail from California (38 members) and New York (21 members).

That marks an increase from the two-state delegation's collective previous all-time high of 28.1 percent recorded after the Republican tsunami of 2010 (increasing for a few months to 28.5 percent after Kathy Hochul's win in NY-26 in 2011).

With new district lines in place, the 2012 cycle saw Democrats hold serve in New York - picking off Nan Hayworth in NY-18 and Ann Buerkle in NY-24 but seeing Rep. Hochul lose in NY-27.

Democrats will control 21 of 27 New York seats in January compared to the 21 of 29 they hold today.

The party also netted four seats in California:

· Defeating nine-term Republican Dan Lungren in CA-07.
· Winning the open seat left by the retired 13-term Republican Elton Gallegly in CA-26.
· Beating eight-term Republican Mary Bono Mack in CA-36.
· Defeating seven-term Republican Brian Bilbray in CA-52.

While California and New York are two of the three most populous states in the country, it is important to note that the number of representatives from the two states collectively has remained relatively flat over the last 50 years.

Since 1962, New York and California have accounted for between no less than 18.2 percent and no more than 19.1 percent of all seats in the nation's lower legislative chamber (with California's delegation increasing and New York's decreasing during this span).

And yet, during this 50-year period, the percentage of the Democratic caucus hailing from these two states has increased by more than two-thirds: from 17.4 percent in 1962 to 29.4 percent in January 2013.

In fact, the percentage of seats held by the Democratic caucus from New York and California compared to their relative percentage of seats in the House overall has never been more out of proportion.

California and New York hold 29.4 percent of seats in the Democratic caucus but just 18.4 percent of U.S. House seats overall for a +11.0-point differential.

The largest previous differential was seen after the Civil War in 1866 when Democrats from the two states held 25.5 percent of their caucus' seats and the total representatives from the two states accounted for 15.0 percent of House seats overall for a +10.5-point difference.

The percentage of seats held by Democrats in California at the start of the 113th Congress will be at a 76-year high, with 38 of the 53 seats under the party's control, or 71.7 percent.

The last time the party eclipsed the 70 percent mark in the Golden State delegation was after the Election of 1936 when Democrats controlled 15 of 20 seats (75 percent).

In New York, 77.8 percent of its seats will be under Democratic control which is the third highest in Empire State history, behind the Elections of 2008 (26 of 29 seats, 89.7 percent) and 2006 (23 of 29, 79.3 percent).

At 59 seats collectively, the raw number of representatives in the Democratic caucus hailing from these two states coming out of a general election has been eclipsed only once: when the party won 60 seats in the Election of 2008.

However, Democrats have never been as reliant on the New York and California delegations as they are today, as the caucus won 257 seats in the 2008 cycle, compared to just 201 two weeks ago.

Democratic New York and California U.S. House Delegations by Election Cycle, 1850-2012

Year
New York
California
Total
Democrats
% NY/CA
2012
21
38
59
201
29.4
2010
20
34
54
193
28.1
2008
26
34
60
257
23.3
2006
23
34
57
233
24.5
2004
20
34
54
202
26.7
2002
19
33
52
205
25.4
2000
19
32
51
212
24.1
1998
18
28
46
211
21.8
1996
18
29
47
206
22.8
1994
17
27
44
204
21.6
1992
18
30
48
258
18.6
1990
21
26
47
267
17.6
1988
21
27
48
260
18.5
1986
20
27
47
258
18.2
1984
19
27
46
253
18.2
1982
20
28
48
269
17.8
1980
22
22
44
242
18.2
1978
27
26
53
277
19.1
1976
28
29
57
292
19.5
1974
27
28
55
291
18.9
1972
22
23
45
242
18.6
1970
24
21
45
255
17.6
1968
26
21
47
243
19.3
1966
26
21
47
247
19.0
1964
27
23
50
295
16.9
1962
20
25
45
259
17.4
1960
22
16
38
263
14.4
1958
19
16
35
283
12.4
1956
17
13
30
234
12.8
1954
17
11
28
232
12.1
1952
16
11
27
213
12.7
1950
23
10
33
235
14.0
1948
24
10
34
263
12.9
1946
17
9
26
188
13.8
1944
23
16
39
242
16.1
1942
23
12
35
222
15.8
1940
25
11
36
267
13.5
1938
25
12
37
262
14.1
1936
27
15
42
334
12.6
1934
29
13
42
322
13.0
1932
29
11
40
313
12.8
1930
23
1
24
216
11.1
1928
23
1
24
164
14.6
1926
25
1
26
194
13.4
1924
22
2
24
183
13.1
1922
23
2
25
207
12.1
1920
9
2
11
131
8.4
1918
19
4
23
192
12.0
1916
16
4
20
214
9.3
1914
18
3
21
230
9.1
1912
31
3
34
291
11.7
1910
21
1
22
230
9.6
1908
12
0
12
172
7.0
1906
12
0
12
167
7.2
1904
11
0
11
135
8.1
1902
16
3
19
176
10.8
1900
13
0
13
151
8.6
1898
18
1
19
161
11.8
1896
6
2
8
124
6.5
1894
5*
1
6
93
6.5
1892
20
3
23
218
10.6
1890
23
2
25
238
10.5
1888
16
2
18
152
11.8
1886
15
2
17
167
10.2
1884
17
1
18
182
9.9
1882
21
6
27
196
13.8
1880
12*
2
14
128
10.9
1878
8
1
9
141
6.4
1876
16
1
17
155
11.0
1874
16
3
19
182
10.4
1872
9
1
10
88
11.4
1870
16
0
16
104
15.4
1868
12*
2
14
67
20.9
1866
10
2
12
47
25.5
1864
10*
0
10
38
26.3
1862
17
0
17
72
23.6
1860
9
0
9
44
20.5
1858
3
2
5
83
6.0
1856
12
2
14
132
10.6
1854
5
2
7
83
8.4
1852
20
2
22
157
14.0
1850
16
2
18
127
14.2
Total
1,531
982
2,513
16,436
15.5
Data reflects totals based on Election Day results, except (*) adjusts for contested elections in which a new winner was selected. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Death of the Battlegrounds? The 2012 Election in History
Next post: Iceberg: Split-Ticket Voting Leaves GOPers Cold in Two Northern US Senate Races

9 Comments


  • I'm not sure why this is considered unusual or a surprise, when California and New York collectively contain 21% of the U.S. population. Two large, heavily-Democratic states send a large number of Democratic representatives to the House. Film at 11?

  • But the two states hold only 18.4 percent of House seats and their relative share of House seats has been static (collectively) for the past 50 years while their share of the Democratic caucus has increased by two-thirds during this span. That's a big change.

  • So ***that's*** what Democrats mean when they say they "look like America".

  • I'm bothered by both the title and the premise. The title implies that a 2 state caucus is possible (it isn't even close to possible). I'm also bothered by the premise that this is somehow unique to Democrats - the Republican caucus has over 20% from Texas, FL and GA. Both caucuses have shifted over the past 25 years, as Dixie Dems have turned Republican and the west coast has turned solid Democratic. A far more interesting study would look at shifts that changed those two states and what that means. The NY of today is not the NY of 25 years ago (deindustrialization of upstate NY) and CA's minority majority status may have changed the priorities for voters.

  • What are the differences between North Korean elections and elections in New York and California?

    Well, for starters, North Korean elections are freer, have better candidates, and are more competitive.

  • But, this is just a reflection of three facts, Democrats lost seats in 2010, NY and CA are high population and mainly blue. Hop the border to Oregon and see about 1 percent of US population accounting for 2 percent of Democratic caucus. So, 18.4 percent NY CA yields 29.4 percent of caucus, influence significantly less than double. In Oregon, 4 of 5 Representatives are Democrats (80%), 1 percent of US population with twice that influence in House. The numbers you use are a mix of apples and oranges and strike me as not so very useful for just that reason.

  • So in the other 48 states Republicans hold close to a 100 seat majority.

  • Very interesting (not earth-shattering) data.
    I'd never thought about it this way.
    Funny how some readers seem so upset at anything that might even remotely be seen as unflattering to the Democrats! Chill.

  • Interesting point of view. Wondering what the impact of gerrymandering has been over the years, and if it is as extreme as the Democrats would have us believe?

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

    Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

    Political Crumbs

    Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

    Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


    Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

    Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting