Thursday, October 23, 2008

Donkey In Da House

So I promised to talk about the house. Now at 435, I'm not going to list every race...mainly because not only do I not have a break down, but I couldn't even BEGIN to tell you what freaking congressional district I and the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Pundit live in (ed: WI-5...the Intertubes are a wonderful thing) let alone all the rest of the 434 yahoos. So I really don't have a race by race breakdown.

However, current count is 235 D, 199 R, 1 I (Bernie Sanders, VT, caucuses with the the Dems). My guess is +10, leaving the new House at 245 D, 189 R, 1 I. Why the piddling count improvement? Gerrymandering. Both parties make safe districts for themselves, and Repubs held a crap load of statehouses shortly after 2000 (the Census year). So they packed districts. But not in a really crude, "as many Repubs as we can cram right in there," way.

Here's what you do, if you're a typical Repub state legislator. You optimize. You wall off as many Dems as geography can possibly allow while maintaining the safety of Repub seats...say 60-40 splits. Thus creating, voila, an institutional bias in favor of Repubs in the House. Which they did. It's a testament to the TOWERING incompetence of the Bush Administration and the unpopularity of the Repub brand that the count is where it is, but is also means that we're reaching the point of diminishing returns.

I just don't think that there just aren't that many districts left out there that are even marginally reachable for Democrats that they don't already have. Now this isn't based in any way on poll numbers or a district by district look. I'm sure there are people who's job it is to do that, and report up their party chains. They don't put that on the net. If they're winning they don't want to tip their hand, and if they're losing they don't want to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

+10 is a guess, but it's a reasonably educated one. Dems picked up a crapload of seats in 2006. They ran the table that year, folks. But running the table in 2006 means there just isn't that much left to pick up.

If Dems pick up more than +15 to +20, I think that means it will be a good day indeed for Obama.

On a side note: other bellweathers to look for? Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia. Their polls close early. If Obama is ahead in all of those, or if they get called for Obama, you might as well crack the champagne early. The metro districts take longer to get counted. If Obama is ahead or if he's so far ahead that the news orgs actually call it, that means he's winning the RURAL vote. If he does that in those three states, you might as well say the fat lady is singing.

2 comments:

Renée said...

So you're the Itinerant Pundit now? Cool!

Clark said...

More like ItinerantReaderOfFivethirtyeight.com.