Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No, This Is Not Comforting

People always take solace in the wrong things: “sure, we got blown out, but we played well in the final minutes against their backups.” Yeah, right. Elections are no different. And right now conservatives are consoling themselves with the idea that the election wasn’t so bad for them because they won the House, which they seem to think means the public really did support them, but just didn’t like Romney. Uh, no.

What you need to remember about the House is that it’s not representative of “the public,” it is representative of 435 different publics. If you want to understand the difference, consider this.

Assume you have 100 voters, 55 of whom vote Blue and 45 of whom vote Red. In a straight up election, the Blues will win every time. But if you separate them right, you can actually cause the Reds to win overwhelmingly. Indeed, the Reds could win as many as 8 of 10 districts if you can divide them right. Thus, even as the Blues win the national election by 10%, they could lose as many as 80% of the districts.

This is what is happening in the House.

The House is divided into 435 districts. Because of Republican wins in 2010 at the state level, the Republicans controlled the redistricting process for 213 of the 435 seats. The Democrats controlled only 44 seats. The rest were split.

As a result of this, 109 Republican seats were made more safe for the Republicans and another 109 Democratic seats were made more vulnerable to the Republicans by adding Republican voters or removing Democratic voters from those districts. That gave the Republicans a competitive boost in 218 districts -– they only need 218 to control the House -- by skewing the chances in those districts toward the Republicans. The Democrats, meanwhile, managed to make only 67 Democrats seats safer. This means the Republicans will win more seats even if they lose the popular vote. And indeed, in 2012, the Republicans won 33 more seats even though they lost the popular vote to the Democrats by about 0.5%.

Moreover, this is making these seats safer, which means few seats remain competitive. Since the 1990s, the number of competitive seats has fallen to around 40 -- less than 10% of all seats. This is why 99% of incumbents got re-elected in 2002 and 2004 and why 90% got re-elected in 2010.

So don’t believe that the Republicans winning the House means anything about the party’s health on a national level. In fact, the Democrats weren't concentrated in a small number of state... remember every vote at 50%+1 is a waste... the national elections and the Senate would look even uglier. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that the party is fine or who points to the House as evidence of that. The party is not doing fine and it needs to realize that real change is needed.

Finally, I want to highlight a point that was made in the comments the other day which I think should give everyone pause: the Democrats can run competitively for Senate seats in every state. . . the Republicans can't. That should tell us something. We need to broaden our appeal and again become a national party, not a party of 218 House Districts.


Tennessee Jed said...

I don't disagree with any of what you say, Andrew, but am still working through the ramifications. There are things that work against us on so many levels. The media bias is overwhelmingly against us, as is the culture. I don't have a lot of good feeling about the Republican leadership. Still, everything seems to have turned sour. There were a lot of people that were pissed off about Obamacare. The law seemed to be on our side and then Roberts acts like somebody threatened to kill his family.

We have some really fringe people on our side, but hell so do the Democrats. Their leadership moved far to the left. I think we actually picked up some steam with moderates. Supposedly, a majority of people were against amnesty a couple years ago. We have picked some really lousy candidates. And the amount of negative advertising did take it's toll.

Another thing working against us is that it has been made very easy to get "votes" from people who have never engaged in the political process. Register and early vote on the same day. There are an awful lot of people who are not really educated on issues, or are at least not getting both sides. A lot of folks believe Sandy was due to man made global warming, and that the bad economy was Bush's fault etc.

In the end though, I think we have gotten to a point with our economy where we have a huge population. The cost o employing people is so high that corporations and other businesses realize to compete they have to keep costs down, and cutting employees is the easiest way to do that. People that are employed are worried about the long term viability of their company and their job, and others can't find work. At times such as these, the nanny state doesn't and deficit may not seem quite as threatening as the party that is basically saying austerity. You, myself, and others have all said our message has to be more how we plan to get people back to work than cut taxes. Too many believe (not entirely without justification) that Wall Street fat cats make out and they get screwed.

Well, it is very late and my rambling probably reflects that I'm tired. Your premise is well taken, albeit depressing. The good news is, our defeat was a real defeat, but it's not like 65-35. Better more refined candidates are needed and a better message about why our way is ultimately better.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree with everything you've said. There are many things that have worked against us and right now is definitely a time for the party to rethinking its entire existence.

And my point in this article is really that right now, a lot of conservatives are trying to stick their heads in the sand... "it was all Romney's fault... he didn't get out the vote... Rubio and Ryan will win it for us... we don't need to change, we just need to scream louder."

I truly believe that the party needs to rethink so much of itself at the moment. It needs a constructive vision of the future. It needs to shed some rotten ideas. It needs new rhetoric. It needs better leaders. It needs better pundits and cheerleaders. It needs a new younger, more diverse, more hip face. It needs a huge dose of common sense, the kind that helps them realize that a reduction in a rate of increase taking effect in 10 years is not a cut.

It needs a lot of things.

But what it does not need is people pretending that they can skip fixing these problems just by blaming Romney or by claiming that everything is fine as evidenced by the House winning.

No change = disaster

LL said...

It all depends on how many core values Republicans want to exchange to the mob for votes.

K said...

The upside of gerrymandering - it will be more difficult for the 'crats to wipe out the Republican majority. So they can huff and puff and it won't make too much difference in the final count. Similarly, mainstream Republicans will be more vulnerable to Tea Party candidates.

Personally, I'd like to see the Republicans drop the abortion plank just as the Dems dropped gun control for a season. Unless the economy turns around and Obamacare isn't the disaster it seems, that alone should be enough to put the next Republican candidate over the top.

Anthony said...

I suspect in the short term (read 2014 and 2016) Republicans will replicate their 2012 efforts to make registration and voting more arduous.

The news of such efforts (MSNBC and various other liberal news sources gave the moves a lot of coverage) both alienated and animated the groups they were aimed at, but due to the Voting Right Act, most of the states were actually prevented from making the changes (meaning Republicans got the bad PR, but not the benefits).

In the near future, the Supreme Court is expected to lift those sorts of restrictions (though they've surprised before) so it will be interesting to see what the electorate looks like in 2014 and 2016.

Anthony said...


The problem with gerrymandering is that it tends to result in apparatchiks who lack the charisma, imagination and courage to rise to the national level(nods towards the CBC).

I don't blame parties for doing it (why not make sure one can win in perpetuity?) but it does make for uninspired, uninspiring politicians.

Individualist said...


There is another factor in this that I think is important. Urbanization.

I am not sure if this adds, detracts or is not relevant to your argument but I think it important to the cultural aspect of this.

I looked at Ohio and Florida maps election night to get a sense of whether unreported counties could give us the win. What I noticed is very red maps with concentrations of blue. while we win the rural areas and suburbs by maybe 51 to 60% they win the urban cities by 75 to 85%.

Had we gotten just 40% of Miami Dade that night the election would have been a blow out for Romney in Florida. Even California was a mostly red map. The blue ares concentrated in the southern western part of the state (San Francisco and LA) and spots elsewhere.

I think maybe what this means is where we are weakest is in the major metropolitan areas because there we have no hold whatsoever. We get no votes.

Anthony said...

I think the fact that there are 30 Repubican governors is very encouraging. Some of the governors have very different policies, but all of them offer the national party real world examples of ways it can deal with various challenges.

tryanmax said...

LL, the GOP doesn't need to exchange any core values for votes, unless it considers things like English-only, censoring the Internet, and preventing flag desecration to be core. (Hey, it's all in the party platform.)

K and Anthony, I agree that gerrymandering isn't all bad. It ensures the 45% the GOP represents still have a voice in Washington. But they shouldn't take false comfort from it.

Indie, urbanization is a major factor insomuch as the GOP hasn't really confronted it. The Framers were aware of the rift b/w urban and rural and, I think, built a system well equipped to handle it. So the issue rests solely with the party that doesn't engage it.

Anthony, I too am encouraged by the number of Republican governors. Also, 28 junior senators are Republican, which I think does bode well for the future of the party.

The Dems still have the youth image, but I see some signs that they are starting to lose their grip on it. Obama took a smaller portion of the youth vote in '12 than he did in '08. And the DNC doesn't appear to have as many young up-and-comers as the RNC.

Honestly, I'm most worried about my age group. It's the only age demo that Obama didn't lose a percentage of b/w elections.

Individualist said...


The article just says posted by Andrew Price so I am assuming he wrote it....

Urbanization comes to two factors:

Those on government assistance and those who are wealthy. Strange as it may sound I believe it is the urban wealth that is lost to us. money is no longer made by building an industry, it is made by trading on it and the Soros model of Chrony capitalism and state controlled banking gives them to much power.

That leaves the poor. The only real way that I think the GOP can make any end roads there is a program designed to lift people out of welfare. The GOP needs to make charitable end roads that get people training, schooling and jobs. It has to be known to them that TEA party types are funding it.

There is no way we will get any real government funding for it because just like school vouchers the left will attack it and getting it passed will be impossible. So we will have to find the capital to set this up ourselves. I just can't see the GOP ever getting any traction by embracing welfare. The Dems are too entrenched there.

But I don't know..... it is a very steep cliff to climb

T-Rav said...

Yeah. Saying things like "Well, we held the House" or "Romney reduced Obama's margin of victory" doesn't make me feel any better. It's not like we won anything that matters. If we can't win a Pennsylvania seat and the Democrats can hold a seat in North Dakota, that is officially something to not be celebrated.

tryanmax said...

Indie, Andrew did write it, I just had responses to a number of comments.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I don't agree with that. I don't think the "core" values are the problem. I think the fringe values are the problem. I think giving up the fringe stuff we will never get is the key. And beyond that, we need to find some actual core values -- we don't have any at the moment except "nothing changes."

AndrewPrice said...

K, It is a good thing in that regard, but the point is that this should not give us comfort. I'm hearing a lot of people say, "well, we won the House so the public does just love us, it was clearly Romney's fault he lost." That's the wrong message -- we need to make changes.

On the abortion thing, I'd like to see it dropped too. But even without going that far, it would be nice if that party of the party learned to shut the hell up around election time just like the gays, the gun Nazis, the feminists, and every other crazy on the left knows to be quiet during elections.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Unfortunately, that issue is a highly charged one and the Republicans have not figured out an effective way to sell it yet. So if they're going to do it, they need to just do it and be done with it. Stretching something like that out is a problem.

What they should do is hide it in a national voter fraud act which funds "unbreakable" electronic machines, etc. etc. Basically, hide it within a larger bill intended to "stop Florida from happening again."

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true. And when you add in the way seniority works, what safe districts get you is old guys who are out of touch leading the party -- because they are totally safe in their own districts, their districts don't look like anywhere else in America, and they know they are untouchable.

That's a bad recipe ultimately.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Urbanization is just the telltale sign of the bigger problem -- the Republican Party is loathed by the people who live in cities... minorities, young singles, professionals. And they are the future. Hence, we have a real problem.

That's why we need to make inroads with those groups. And again, the key here is to stop this strange thought conservatives have that "well, we can't win them all, so why try." If we can even swing 10-20% of those people to us, we would win every state in a landslide. But right now we are totally anathema to those people because so many of our fringe issues are just poisonous.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That is encouraging and we definitely have a better farm team than the Democrats. What troubles me though, is that while we do well with governors, we fail when it comes to Senators, which is just as important.

We should be sweeping the entire inside of the country except for the most liberal states, but we aren't.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, On the core thing, I agree. The issue isn't core values, it's the fringe stuff. And even then the real problem is again what K suggests -- when it comes to things average people hate, the Democrats are great at hiding those things, our side prefers to sensationalize those.

On urbanization, I honestly don't see that as a true issue anymore. There are only a couple minor issues where farmers versus apartment dwellers arises. The real issue is that we can't win the people who live in cities -- women, gays, minorities, singles. That's our problem and it's only going to get worse because they are growing in numbers.

On the gerrymandering, it is good that it protects us, but for how much longer? If we only "usually" win states like Texas and we never win states like California, at some point, the gerrymandering power will shift. There is no comfort here for our side... we got lucky for now.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, The thing about embracing welfare isn't an attempt to win welfare voters. It's an attempt to stop scaring middle/low class workers know that they are only one bad break away from being on welfare.

I agree on the wealth class, they won't vote Republican, which is why we need to stop coddling them. We need to stop letting them feel morally smug while doing the dirty work of protecting them from the things they claim they want but know we will never impose. Let Obama whack them with huge taxes.

On the rest of the urban problem, however, we need to make inroads with singles, young women and minorities. That means we need to stop scaring them and we need to offer them a vision of America that appeals to them. Right now we don't offer that, all we do is scare those people.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi and tryanmax, Yep... my article. :)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, This:

If we can't win a Pennsylvania seat and the Democrats can hold a seat in North Dakota, that is officially something to not be celebrated.

... is the real key to the problem. We need to become more competitive in every state. And that means we need to make changes that will attract a broader swath of people.

BevfromNYC said...

Since I live in a state where being Democrat or Republican is just a matter of what line on the ballot needs to be filled and nothing to do with platform or policy, I am Switzerland on this issue.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Your state, however, sends 2 Democrats to the Senate every year and a vast majority of Democrats to the House. And those Democrats are people like Charlie Rangel and Chuck Schumer... some of the worst.

tryanmax said...

Bev, places like NYC, LA, Chicago, and any other large urban centers are where the GOP needs to pick up the "hip" factor. With the exception of Obama himself, I don't really see the Dems working the cool angle anymore. They've got it in the bag, so it doesn't matter how patently uncool many of their most prominent members are. Honestly, the Dems are their most vulnerable in that area; I suspect if there was a real "cool contest" the Dems would be caught flat-footed. Unfortunately the GOP thinks being cool is beneath them.

Individualist said...

"Indi, The thing about embracing welfare isn't an attempt to win welfare voters. It's an attempt to stop scaring middle/low class workers know that they are only one bad break away from being on welfare."

All well and good but the issue remains there are too many welfare voters.

I have a freind of mine who is a lawyer who was doing probono work for this elderly lady. She spent the majority of her life in the projects but managed to save some money and get a house through habitat for humanity.

She had a problem because the bank kept "losing track" of her mortgage payments. Exasperated he told her "part of your problem is that you don't have a bank account. You pay with money orders. If you paid by check there would be a paper trail with the bank". Her response was "oh no I can't possibly have a bank account, no sir". He was perplexed.

I having audited HUD housing knew why. I don't think that welfare voters are all lost. The younger ones yes but the older ones who get trapped there is an opportunity if you show them you are helping them.

MArk Little has an in depth poll done on the Black voters in Jacksoville Florida. One of the things the campaign could pay for early on. The results showed that the community agreed with conservatives many more times than liberals despite the fact they would not vote Republican. Abortion, christian values, school vouchers, teaching standards that required all shcools to teach kids, ..... That community is what southerners would classsify as God Fearing Christians.

One of the problems is that the Progs have been allowed to brand the name Republican in those areas so bad that we can't approach them on where we do agree.

We can only counteract that by going into the hood and working with them. If we are doing this then the lower class one step away may say if I do fall maybe these TEA party types will help me get back to where I was.

BevfromNYC said...

"Bev, Your state, however, sends 2 Democrats to the Senate every year and a vast majority of Democrats to the House. And those Democrats are people like Charlie Rangel and Chuck Schumer... some of the worst."

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but, yes, they are the worst, but that is not going to change. Ol' Charlie could rape a woman on national television and still get re-elected. Same for Chuckles Schumer and a long line right down to City Counsel members who have actually committed crimes against the taxpayers, but still get elected. They are all here to stay until they choose to leave, are imprisoned, or die. We essentially have Democrats and Democrats who call themselves Republicans to run for office.

The Republicans actually had a viable Conservative, non-wackadoodle candidate Wendy Long who ran against Sen. Gillibrand in 2012. Have you actually heard of Wendy Long? No, because she got no money from anybody to make her presence known. And since she remained an actual policy driven, intelligent woman and scandal-free, she got no free publicity either. But on the plus side, she wasn't damaged like other female Republican candidates either. That's a plus.

So if you actually expect there to be a real Republican anything coming out of New York in the near or far future, you will be wasting your expectations. Oh, and the "Tea Party" candidates who won in 2010 were "re-districted" out of existance in 2012. Funny how that worked out.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think you misunderstand me. I don't expect that New York will suddenly become super conservative.

What I am saying is that the party needs to return to a position where it is competitive in those states. Right now, the Democrats can win anywhere... we can't. We need to change that. We should be much more competitive in rural and upstate New York, just as we should be doing better in places like California because we can't ever win if we're going to cede half the seats in the country to the Democrats and then fight only for the rest.

Moreover, again, this isn't a matter of 1-0, 100% or nothing... this is a matter of degree. If we could even get a liberal Republican to win a Senate seat in New York, that would make a world of difference in Washington. The idea that we should only accept the most pure Republicans is killing the party.

Also, as you point out about Long, that is more evidence of a party that isn't even trying. We simply cannot win by only playing in certain states.

We need to detoxify the party, we need to offer a compelling vision of the future, we need to fight for every seat with candidates who can win in that region.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm all in favor of the hip factor, but I think there is something even more basic: (1) stop scaring people and (2) offer a vision to make their lives better. We don't do that right now.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I guess there's just so much the GOP is doing wrong, it's hard to limit myself. LOL! Plus, you can't be hip and scary at the same time. (Unless you're Michael Jackson--and I'm not talking about the "Thriller" video.)

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, While I agree that it would be nice to fix that image, you are talking about deck chairs on the Titanic.

The welfare vote is not the issues. The issue is the 40% of the population that is singles and the 28% that is minorities. Welfare plays into that as a "scare" factor. We are scaring those people (and young families) by telling them we want to destroy the safety net. And the ironic thing is that no one in our party seriously considers following up on the rhetoric. Basically, we are pissing people off just for the sake of pissing them off.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, There is soooo much the GOP/conservatives are doing wrong, and the worst part is they don't want to change.

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