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Friday, December 28, 2012

Polarization and House Elections

In the House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats increasingly represent districts that tilt strongly to their own side, which complicates bipartisan compromise.  Politico reports:
The numbers tell the story. According to the Cook Political Report, the widely respected political handicapper, just six Republicans – around 3 percent of the House GOP Conference — will occupy districts whose overall voter makeup favors Democrats. That figure is down from 22 Republicans that resided in such Democrat-friendly districts in 2012.
That unusually high number of House Republicans occupying deeply red districts has intensified the fear of a primary — not general — election threat. And that means no deals with a president, who in most cases, lost those members’ districts resoundingly.
The polarization was exacerbated by the just completed, once-a-decade redistricting process. Both parties — but particularly Republicans, who swept control of statehouses across the country in the 2010 conservative wave — redrew district lines to shore up House members politically.

But House watchers say it’s also owed to three consecutive wave elections from 2006 and 2010, which had the effect of sweeping out moderate members from both parties who occupied swing districts. When the next Congress convenes in January, it will contain just a handful of Northeast Republicans. The ranks of conservative Blue Dog Democrats, meanwhile, have been decimated to just over a dozen members — down from more than 50 in 2008.
The polarization isn’t just limited to the Republican side of the aisle. Just 18 Democrats will occupy Republican-friendly seats, down from 20 in the 112th Congress, according to the Cook Political Report.
“The House is well-aligned right now,” said Brock McCleary, outgoing National Republican Congressional Committee deputy executive director and founder of the survey firm Harper Polling. “As of today, it’s kind of a parliamentary body.”