Halfway there to 2010's Reapportionment, Redistricting; DCCC strategy Reform

I'm not all that optimistic on the chances of Democrats retaking the House in 2006. The Democrat-voting representatives have went from holding 214 to 206 to 203 votes in the last few cycles. Reflecting on the House Democrats dilemma, I wrote this lengthy post-election analysis after the 2002 mid-terms, which continues to hold water:...The nation has reached a point of division where the number of vulnerable incumbent House representatives just about matches the number of Senators up for re-election each cycle. And with campaign spending reaching nearly Senate-like levels for these few seats, the change of partisan make-up within the House is narrowing, with a three to seven seat range over the past three election cycles. How did it get to this? It's due mostly to redistricting efforts that catered to incumbency protection by creating a geographical divide that's packed districts of urban voters for Democrats, spread districts across rural voters for Republicans, and gerrymandering that's sliced up the suburbs for partisan control.

These are the rules for the game, while the Republicans have used them to go for maximum gains; Democrats have mostly opted for safety...

Democrats have a downside of about 195-200 seats; likewise, a similar shift in size is possible to the upside of holding 210-215 seats.

If the Republicans cast aside moderation and consensus in favor of the radical-right and corporate agenda, it will work toward their undoing. But even if Republicans alienate a majority of the public, the severity of redistricting for incumbent and partisan control makes it a tough haul to an actual Democratic majority in the House--near parity maybe, but not control.

Unless the ingrained allegiance toward incumbent Republican representatives massively declines, which the recent election numbers and trends do not suggest as likely, a Democratic majority in the House seems out of reach until the next round of redistricting.

Looking at it post-2004, it's still pretty sound that 2012 is the next best shot that Democrats will have an opportunity of regaining control of the House, so the mid-decade analysis of the 2010 reaportionment due to chaning census population numbers in the states is worth noting:
                                             Reapportionment Factors
               Seat-loss   R-D Delegation    Governor   Legislature

New York           2       9-20              R           R-D
Ohio               2      12-6               R           R-R
Illinois           1       9-10              D           D-D
Iowa               1       4-1               non-partisan
Louisiana          1       5-2               D           D-D
Massachusetts      1       0-10              R           D-D
Missouri           1       5-4               R           R-R
Pennsylvania       1      12-7               D           R-R


               Seat-gain   R-D Delegation    Governor    Legislature

Texas              3      21-11              R           R-R
Florida            2      18-7               R           R-R
Arizona            1       6-2               non-partisan
California         1      33-20              R           D-D
Georgia            1       7-6               R           R-R
Nevada             1       2-1               R           D-R
Utah               1       2-1               R           R-R
On the face of it, it'd be too much conjecture to accurately predict the outcome of events that are 7 years away in coming; at least it points toward where the Democrats are going to have to hold sway with either the governing or legislative power when the reapportionment maps are drawn. But how in the world is Tom DeLay going to stack three more Republicans in the Texas delegation; and how could Florida Republicans possibly advance from their 72% representation of the state at the CD level? I dunno, but I'm sure they'd love to have the opportunity to attempt the matter.

For 2006, is it at all possible that the Democrats in the US House via the DCCC might try something different? I know it's against the odds to hope against what's become an entrenched minority, but as a alternative tactic look at what the Democrats in the NY Senate have done. For many years, they attempted to take over complete control of the NY Senate in one election, and failed. So, beginning with the 2004 election, they set a goal of taking away 2 seats this cycle, 2 seats in the 2006 cycle, and from there, just 3 seats from the majority, they could work on the final goal. Well, the strategy worked, with New York Democrats taking 3 (4 pending) of the 7 Senate seats needed to regain the majority.

What are the odds of the Democrats making an attempt at taking away 15 seats from the Republicans in 2006? Not very good at all. In fact, the chances for the Democrats are worse in 2006 than for the last 5 cycles in the minority. So try something different. It'd be a much viable strategy to publically shoot for gaining 6 seats in each of the next two elections, and figure out where to get the extra 3 seats along the way. Combined with the fielding candidates in every seat across the nation, with financial (say, $100K in resources each) backing(see 2004's CO 4th & PA 8th expendidtures by the GOP for why), and I think there's an opportunity. If that strategic path were taken, then I could see the potential of a majority by '08 or '10 for the Democrats in the House. Otherwise, following the same 1996-2004 strategy, means 3 more cycles of the same failure.

(The news references from Hotline are in the extended entry, for reference.)The Census Bureau reported that NM, ID, UT and other states with open spaces are "growing steadily as Americans look for ways to spread out." The list of the 10 fastest-growing states was "dominated by those in the West and South," with NV leading for the 18th year in a row. AZ was 2nd, and FL 3rd, while GA, TX, DE and NC also were in the top 10. "Although warm weather and employment continue as primary lures, people also look for places that offer space, low prices and outdoors." That helped put ID 4th, UT 7th and NM 10th (AP/New York Times, 12/22).

Bush won 9 of the 10 fastest-growing states, the exception being DE. "If the trend continues at its current pace," northeastern and midwestern states that "have been population powerhouses since the 19th century will lose their dominance to Sun Belt states by" '10. NY, now the 3rd most populous, "will likely be overtaken" by FL in 5 years. NJ, now 10th, could be passed by NC in 3 years. Election Data Services pres Kim Brace says based on the latest population estimates, NY, PA, OH and IN each would lose a House seat. AZ, FL, TX and UT each would gain a seat. CO "lost more people to other states than it gained" for the 2nd year in a row, but immigration and births increased population by 1.2% (El Nasser/Overberg, USA Today, 12/22).

OH's population growth "isn't keeping up with the nation's," and "unless that rend changes," it "stands to lose two more seats -- and political clout -- in Congress," starting '10. The '10 reapportionment projection, based on Census estimates, found only one other state -- NY -- "in jeopardy of losing two House seats." 6 others might lose 1: IL, IA, LA, MA, MO and PA. The "biggest winners" would be TX, which could gain 3 seats, and FL, which might get 2. AZ, CA, GA, NV and UT would gain 1 seat each (Knox, Akron Beacon Journal, 12/22).

Tags: Demographics (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

The Politics of Social Security
Obviously no easy way to fit them into your numbers, but a botched attempt at Social Security privatization, particularly if it can be fended off could put a lot of seats in play that are perhaps out of range today. I don't anyone who was predicting the 1994 result right after the 1992 elections. Sometimes emotions simply swamp hard-headed analysis.
by Bruce Webb 2004-12-26 02:13AM | 0 recs
Re: The Politics of Social Security
Social Security is an opportunity for the Democrats.  Unlike a foolish war sold with lies, theres no "patriotism" to bring out the sheer blockheadedness in people.  

Social Security privatization is a dagger aimed at the heart of baby boomers.  The whole idea is to cut our benefits.  What happened to the surplus we've been paying into the system since 1983?  Democrats need to start asking that question on the way to asking why we can't expect that money to be paid back to us, just like Ross Perot, Bill Gates and the Chinese investors can expect to get back the money they loaned the US government.

by Frances 2004-12-26 05:36PM | 0 recs
Analysis is important; Attitude is crucial
I respect your opinion as presented here but I'm not sure your approach is terribly helpful and here's why. I subscribe to the school of thought that forming an a priori defeatist mindset about where and when Democrats can't win is just that. As my grandma always said, "can't never did nuthin".

Yes, the Party needs to assess the situation in order to plan for campaign resource allocation. But the attitude should be that we concede nowhere! An aloof "Stratego" approach to running the national Party is largely what got us into this minority party mess as it is. It's that behind-beltway arrogance that claims by merely crunching the numbers we will prevail via a blue states + 1 crap shoot. The rest as they say is history.

Perhaps we need to crunch a few less numbers, get off our duffs and actually get out in the heartland and to listen to the people we've abandoned for wine and cheese swilling, SUV drivin yuppies? And perhaps we need to ignore, even fire, the DC number crunching wonks and consultants, then take those resources and reallocate them to the Regional and local leadership and organizers who actually know something about "What's the matter with Kansas"? Perhaps then we'd be putting together a real resurgence that in combination with a tech savvy Net campaign can make gains in 2006, if not retake the House, win hearts in minds in the redzone as well as the blue and as a result win the white house in 08?

Perhaps.

by ringmaster 2004-12-26 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Analysis is important; Attitude is crucial
That's about my take too, so I'm not sure if you understood correctly what I was proposing. Basically, if the DCCC continues to use the same strategy, we will fail in the next 3 cycles as we've failed in the last 5 cycles.  Instead, we should go into the red cd's, we should not concede anywhere. If that strategy is taken, we could win; but I'm not willing to go along just for the sake of going along, if the same tired strategy is going to be implemented again, because we will lose.
by Jerome Armstrong 2004-12-27 03:21AM | 0 recs
Newt Ginrich
Two things. First, in 1994 the Republicans had a minority and the way they won was being competitive in every distict, including solidly Democratic districts. I think maybe we should also be competitive in every single district, including some real heavy republican districts.
Secondly, what does it mean when in that chart it said non-partisan for the governor and state legislator?
by sam89 2004-12-26 11:01AM | 0 recs
Non-partisan
Means it doesn't matter which party is in control, because districts are drawn up by an independent body in that state.
by catastrophile 2004-12-26 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt Ginrich
I agree completely.  The Republicans only had 171 seats in the House in 1992, and they retook it in 1994.  That's pretty astonishing.  

I also agree with Ringmaster above.  Unless we're willing to take a strong stance, we won't achieve anything.  So what if we're unsuccessful in 2006?  If we make a strong attempt, we have a better shot of taking back some of the seats than if we wait until 2012.

Why not shoot for the real goal?  And as for the state legislatures, we can do more than one thing at a time (at least according to John Kerry!)

by Chicago Lulu 2004-12-26 06:15PM | 0 recs
Where to target efforts
Given the advantages of incumbency and the long odds you mention, I'd suggest the next 6 to 8 years will provide the greatest long-term benefits if we try to retake state legislatures and statehouses before reapportionment comes up again in the next post-census period.

Both in states gaining or losing total numbers of seats, it'd be great if we could prevent a repeat of the Texas fiasco, particularly in OH, MO, GA, and FL, which ll currently have R majorities runningtheir entire state shows.

by Kevin Hayden 2004-12-26 05:32PM | 0 recs
1994 wasn't just elbow-grease for GOP
They had a nationwide campaign/marketing strategy: "the contract for america".

http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONTRACT.html

They proposed alot of non-partisan government reforms. Term-limits, line-item veto, and so forth. There is nothing controversial in that Contract. As I see it most of you would love it if the GOP limited itself to these proposals. Now their discipline has lapsed and they are wantonly reactionary. If the Democrats seek to emulate 1994 in 2006 they need a overarching vision that appeals to the white middle class.

by Paul Goodman 2004-12-27 04:42PM | 0 recs

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