Thursday, December 5, 2013

Election 2012 and Future Demographics

Since the 2012 election, there have been a number of analyses of votes and exit polling data.  The news for the Republican Party has been grim and led to a report by the Republican National Committee outlining the demographic and ideological issues hampering Republicans in national and US Senate elections.

A quick recap:  While the GOP candidate (George W. Bush) ultimately took the majority of electoral votes in 2 elections, the Democratic candidate has won more votes nationally than the Republican presidential candidate in 5 of the 6 last elections.  More Democrats have been elected to the US Senate.  And in 2012 Democratic candidates won more votes overall in US House elections than Republican candidates.

So why isn't the US House controlled now by Democrats?  Good question.  The answer goes back to the 2010 US Census and reapportionment.  The express purpose of having a census every 10 years is to reapportion the US House of Representatives and state legislatures.  Each state -regardless of population- gets 2 US Senators.  US House seats, however, depend on a state's population.  Kentucky for example used to have 8 House seats but its sluggish growth compared to other states led to a reapportionment over the past few decades.  Now Kentucky has 6 House seats.

In 2010 with the recession that began under President Bush in full swing and the Tea Party activists at their zenith, the Republican Party won control of more state legislatures than the Democrats.  When the 2010 Census data came out, both parties set to reapportioning their states -usually to the advantage of their particular party.  Today's US House of Representatives reflects this reapportionment -or gerrymandering in some people's views.  In 2012 all 435 House seats were up for election.  Here are the results:

2012 Election: US House of Representatives
% of Popular Vote
% of House Seats Actually Won
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Constitution Party
Reform Party
Independence Party
Source:  US House of Representatives, Office of the Clerk, Election Statistics

If the US House was structured more as a parliamentary system where seats are divided up proportionally to the popular vote, Democrats would control the US House and several smaller parties would have a seat or two.  Instead, because each House seat is determined by the voters only in that seat's district -and these districts were carefully crafted to the advantage of the party in control of the state legislature in 2010-2012, the minority party in the popular vote controls the US House.

This next series of maps explores some of the demographic factors influencing the declining fortunes of the GOP in national popular votes.

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