US House loses more “swing” in 2022

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Every ten years, congressional districts are redrawn to reflect changes in the country’s population, and every ten years, the number of seats in the United States House that could reasonably be won by either parties continues to decline.

Kelly Burton, chair of the left-leaning National Democratic Redistricting Committee, says that may not be good for democracy.

“It increases polarization. It decreases the willingness and likelihood of both sides coming together to solve problems and skews the incentive structure of our elected officials much more towards the extremes than towards the middle,” she said. at NPR.

While not all of the 2022 congressional district maps are finalized, one outcome is undisputed: Only about 30 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House will be considered traditional “rotating seats” in the ballot. november. These are congressional districts that were won less than 5% by Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Districts that are competitive tend to be represented by legislators who have the most incentives to be bipartisan.

But like-minded Americans are living more together than ever before, and supporters are taking advantage of that reality to more easily draw legislative maps with secure Democratic and Republican seats, according to nonpartisan election analyst Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report.

“These two things feed off each other and compound to absolutely eviscerate the swing seat count,” Wasserman told NPR.

The number of swing seats has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years. According To cook data, there were 124 such seats after the 2002 redistribution process and only 99 seats after the 2012 redistribution.

With a growing base of secure Republican and Democratic seats, both parties are struggling to secure a lasting majority in the House. Since the 1994 GOP wave broke a four-decade streak of Democratic House control, the chamber has swung three times (2006, 2010, 2018) and is set to sway again in November, to Republicans.

A smaller number of competitive seats “means there are far fewer natural, easy opportunities for us to go and win,” said Dan Conston, chairman of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the House GOP’s top super PAC. .. It forces Republicans to try to compete in seats with less “swing.”

“The political environment is so good that we are able to expand much deeper into Democratic-held territory than we have ever been before, and we believe we are going to be able to make significant gains in areas traditional Democrats,” Conston said, noting that Republicans are fielding candidates in districts Biden has lifted up to 15%.

But with an overall less competitive House, even a banner year for Republicans would likely result in a gain of 25 to 30 seats and result in a narrow — and fragile — majority.

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With fewer swivel seats, the House is more vulnerable to whiplash between the two sides for control, says Stanford University professor Morris Fiorina.

“Now the parties are so well balanced that even though there are very few fringe districts, Congress could change even with a much smaller change in seats than it could a generation ago,” a- he told NPR.

The risk, Fiorina says, is that both parties tend to misinterpret voters’ message in these elections because of how tiny vote changes can swing control of the entire chamber.

“Each new majority says, ‘OK, now we have a mandate.’ They don’t have a mandate. The mandate was: “We like you a little bit better than the others,” Fiorina said.

Another likely outcome: an even more ideologically divided Congress.

“You have a system where all of the competition for a given seat is forced into the primaries, where only a tiny fraction of voters even participate,” said Joshua Graham Lynn of Represent.us, a nonprofit that advocates for democratic reforms.

Burton says it’s not all bad news.

“Even though the total number of competitive seats is smaller, there are enough seats in that competitive bucket to keep the House competitive through the decade, and I think that’s good for democracy,” he said. she stated, “I think you want the outcome of the election to reflect the will of the voters and you want to see those in power determined by the voters themselves and not predetermined by the cards.”

Swing seats are also evolving. A number of districts considered safe in 2011 were considered competitive 10 years later, Wasserman said, adding he suspects we’ll see the same thing in years to come.

“Keep in mind that over a decade things change,” he said.

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