Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Redistricting and the 2012 House Elections

After the 2010 elections, the conventional wisdom was that Democrats had virtually no chance to take the House back in 2012 both because of the toxic political atmosphere for Democrats and because the Republicans had won control of a lot of state legislatures so they would stand to gain another cushion through the redistricting process.

Since then, both variables have changed in the Democrats favor. The Democratic brand is doing better (though it is probably more accurate to say the Republican brand is really hurting again) and Democrats appear to be doing much better in the redistricting processes around the country than most analysts first thought. Stu Rothenberg argues that Democrats will likely gain a handful of seats through redistricting alone and, as a result, Democrats will only need to pick up a net of another 20 seats from the 60+ districts Republicans won in 2010 but that Obama won in 2008. That is still a very tall order (see incumbency effect) but it is not impossible.

The bottom line is that the House is in play in 2012.

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