The big talk is just how many seats will the GOP pick up in the Senate next year, and we’ve spent a lot of time right here talking about just that. But how about the House? We do still have a bicameral legislature, even if it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell them apart.
The House is in the strange place where although it’s almost universally reviled, not much is going to change. Yes, gerrymandering is a part of that, but it isn’t the whole story.
People are fed up with Congress generally, but with ObamaCare specifically and increasingly. To punish the Democrats for ObamaCare would mean voting in more Republicans, and the out-of-the-White-House party does tend to make big gains during an incumbent President’s sixth year.
But the Democrats are already probably pretty close to their floor number of House seats. Is some Republican going to unseat Nancy Pelosi? How many blue Massachusetts districts could possibly swing? I haven’t yet gone to the map to look district by district, but it’s hard to picture the Democrat caucus ever getting very much smaller than it already is. 180 might be a hard floor for them.
My buddy Tom Dougherty has been running those numbers, too:
Is that bad news for Republicans? In one sense, maybe. Since there’s not much chance of them picking up the 20 or more seats history says they should, it will be easy for the Democrat/News Industry Complex to paint anything less as a “loss.”
In another sense, maybe not. If Frustrated Voter Sally is unable to vent her frustration at her safe Democrat Congressman, she could choose vent her frustration at her Democrat Senator. The safety of House Democrats might make Senate Democrats even more vulnerable than they already are.
It’s too soon to tell if this is going to be another wave election like 2010. If it is, then it will be easy to put together a simple test to tell, seat by seat, Senator by Senator, where the GOP will gain. Assuming ObamaCare doesn’t suddenly start winning hearts and minds and pocketbooks in the next six months or so, the test would look like this:
1) How safe is their district? If it’s Gerrymander Heaven or a heavily urban/finance/tech district, then the test is passed. Chalk it up D. If not, go to the next step.
2) Did the Congresscritter in Question vote for ObamaCare in 2010? If yes, then go to the next step.
3) How far has the Congresscritter in Question run from that vote? I put this one in to give me a little wiggle room, but if millions more cancellation notices go out next year as I suspect they will, then there might not be any place far enough to run.
4) Does the Congresscritter in Question face credible GOP competition?
Let’s define “credible” as meaning “decently financed and not suffering some glaring personality defect and/or foot-in-mouth disease.” We can shorten that to “The Akin Effect.” We need to apply a little English here, too, because The Akin Effect will be a bigger factor in Senate races and a smaller factor in House races.
By next summer — depending on ObamaCare’s troubles and who GOP voters nominate — we’ll know if this is a wave election, and whether this test applies.