Republicans Cede 2-3% of National House Vote To Democrats

That was awfully nice of them.

With most filing deadlines closed, right now at best Democrats can fill 426 House districts this year. However, after Republicans only managed to challenge three of the ten districts in Massachusetts, right now at best Republicans can only fill a rather pathetic 390 seats (and dropping). This enormous, 36 seat gap is more than twice as large as the advantage for either party since at least 1994. As Democrats are set to break the all-time districts challenged record of 419, Republicans look like they will clock in with the second worst year since 1994, surpassed only by the 1998 Democratic total of 380.

This translates into an important, though hidden, advantage for Democrats in the generic ballot and the national vote totals. When voters go to the polls, 10% of them will not even have the option of voting for a Republican. By contrast, only 2% will not have the option of voting for a Democrat. Wondering what this would mean in terms of actual votes, I was looking back through election results in the House from 2002 and 2004, and simply having a candidate's name on the ballot seemed to guarantee around 20-27% for a major party automatically. When a major party is not on the ballot, both incumbents and third-parties do exceptionally well, as they seem to split the 20-27% that would have gone to the major party that did not field a candidate.

I think you see where I am going this. Now, subtract the 2% of the country that can vote Rep but not Dem from the 10% of the country that can vote Dem but not Rep and you get an 8% advantage for Democrats. Multiply that 8% by 23.5% (the rough average of the "automatic vote" for each party in a given district) and you get 1.9% of the overall national vote that Republicans have simply thrown away. Figure that Democratic incumbents get half of the 1.9%, and you have a built in swing of 2.8% in the national House vote for Democrats this year. Figure that many of these safe Democratic districts will have lower turnout than other districts nationwide, and you can arrive at a rough estimate of a 2.5% pro-Democratic swing from an accurate pre-election poll to the actual vote.

Now, detractors of the fifty-state strategy will say that this doesn't matter, because House seats are not determined by popular national vote, but by a first-past-the-post mechanism in 435 distinct districts. However, there are many reasons why this is very good for Democrats nationwide:
  • Nearly one million people will grow more used to voting for Democrats. Riffing off the term "Reagan Democrats," let's call those voters "fifty state strategy Republicans."
  • This will drain Republicans resources--no telling how many--from competitive, Republican held-districts.
  • This will help Democrats both down ballot and up ballot, while it hurts Republicans both down ballot and up ballot.
  • A big national vote win will grant more legitimacy to a Democratic controlled congress, and less legitimacy to a Republican-controlled congress.
  • Help identify local Democratic activists nationwide.
  • Get more Democrats working on this election than Republicans.
This is a nice, little advantage for us to have. It won't win an election on its own, but it will give us a real boost. Whenever you see generic ballot polls showing Democrats up 10% (which is roughly our current average) remember that this translates into an advantage of 12-13% in actual votes, simply because we have candidates in so many more districts than Republicans.

Bravo, fifty-state strategists and activists, bravo.

Tags: fifty state strategy, House 2006 (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

At first it sounded like fuzzy math...

Reminds me of someone who would flip a twenty bill and claim he has $40.  However, it makes some sense the more I jog it in my brain.    

by optimusprime 2006-07-27 12:38PM | 0 recs
Which Democrats are not challenged?

Maybe they can help a democratic nominee in a nearby congressional race?

by optimusprime 2006-07-27 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Democrats are not challenged?

If you want to get your hands dirty, you can search through here:

http://www.barrywelsh.org/fiftystate/

by HellofaSandwich 2006-07-27 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Democrats are not challenged?

Thanks Hellofasandwich! Havent seen you that often on dailykos...where have you been hiding?

by optimusprime 2006-07-30 10:09AM | 0 recs
There are 36 extra districts for Rs to defend


Or think of this:

There are 36 (426-390) extra districts for the Rs to defend.

This means, technically, that the 36 worst opportunities for R pickups will be less funded.

Or...

The Rs will really only be competetive in 364 (390-26) districts.

Of those, we have seen that at least 50 are being considered toss-ups.

This means that 314 R districts (364-50) will be left to their own devices.

In an anti-GOP or anti-incumbent year, there are bound to some in those 314 districts that unexpectedly fall.

by jgkojak 2006-07-27 12:52PM | 0 recs
The 50 demographic strategy
Now if we can just get people on board with the idea that we need to appeal toward more than just a few core demographic groups.
by Anthony de Jesus 2006-07-27 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Cede 2-3% of National House Vote T

Very true.

I'm not sure I buy the "Republicans getting used to voting for Dems" point though. Lets face it, most of the people who vote for "name on the ballot" type dems are hard-core Democrats.

by dantheman 2006-07-27 01:33PM | 0 recs
try it, you'll like it. just have one bite

turns out I like broccoli

by msnook 2006-07-27 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Cede National House Vote

Like you, I'm not sure how many (R)s
will "get used to" voting (D).

But every election has many first-time
voters, mostly young, a few heretofore
apathetic. To some extent voting is a
learned habit. We want the youngsters
to get the (D) habit.

Some other voters have moved to a
new state, or married, or saw their job
outsourced to Lower Slobovia, or
otherwise have reason to reconsider
their voting habit. For them, too,
we surely benefit from being sure
that the (D) brand has a candidate
on every ballot.

It's all good.

by Woody 2006-08-11 09:51AM | 0 recs
Expand the playing field even more

A while ago I saw numbers saying the candidate outnumbering factor would mean an additional 20M in funds to spread around the country. I believe that we only had a 20-candidate lead at the time. I don't know if we can predict a $36M bump, but it'd sure be nice.

This is another reason I'd like to see the netroots identify not just the top 40 competitive races, but the next 40 after that as well. If there's going to be extra money in the party, there needs to be extra buzz telling that money where to go. The more we expand the playing field, the more effective the 50-state strategy will be.

by msnook 2006-07-27 02:50PM | 0 recs
ummm....

You are forgetting that there are almost always drop-off votes from the top of the ticket... so even if every CD in a state was contested, there are going to be fewer votes for the House in aggregate than there were for the top-ticket race in a state.

The 50-state strategy is smart, but i don't think that you can conclude that more votes will come of uncontested races in safe seats would be why.

by steveolson 2006-07-27 05:37PM | 0 recs
Reword drain republican resources
What happens when a republican does not run in a district is that it frees the Democrat from using his/her/party's money in the race so that money can be used elsewhere.  
However, it does not drain resources for the republican as no resources are spent.  You could claim that there is less interest in the party in that district and that may hurt fund raising for the party as a whole, but the bigger effect is that it frees up the resources of the incumbent from the other party.
by The Professor 2006-07-27 06:33PM | 0 recs
Too much faith in the generic polls

In this polarized era I laugh at any poll giving one side or the other more than 5 or 6% of an edge. At any point of the race, presidential or congressional. That was true of Kerry/Bush in '04 and certainly applies in the overall House vote. Common sense means a hell of a lot more than a poll margin. Even if the election had been held at Bush's lowest approval rate the 10+% would not have held up at the ballot box.

Just give me 52% and I'll take my chances how the races fall.

by jagakid 2006-07-27 06:37PM | 0 recs
Legitimacy and Chicanery

I think the Dems should have someone on the ballot in every CD nationwide, even if they aren't going to mount a campaign.

Whether or not we win back the House, I think being able to say "we got a majority of all votes cast in House races" is a real advantage.  If we win, it confers an extra degree of legitimacy.  

If we don't, it strengthens our case that we are in fact the majority party, and the GOP is staying in power only through tricks and chicanery - gerrymandering, voter suppression, and so forth.

And if we can't get a majority of the House votes nationwide, we can best understand how close (or far) we are from being able to do so if we have candidates in all districts.

by RT 2006-07-28 04:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Legitimacy and the Mandate!

Yes, the Mandate.
When we get an overwhelming number of
votes cast for all House Democrats
nationwide, we will claim, rightfully
claim, the Mandate.

Lessee, Chris only gave us percentages.
Oh, please.

So I'm short on some real numbers.

But I'll guesstimate!

Let's say in 2006 we have candidates in,
oh, 35 races where we did not run in 2004.
Let's say each one gets about 20,000 votes
as a minimum. That's 20,000 votes each
for the Democrats nationwide total that
we weren't gonna get. That's 700,000 more
votes for our side. That ain't nothing!

Just a guesstimate, of course.

by Woody 2006-08-11 10:09AM | 0 recs

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