Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 10, 2013

Republicans could lose their majority

It’s been recently claimed (for instance, at RealClearPolitics and The New Republic) that the Republican Party is at little risk of losing its majority in the House of Representatives. New surveys suggest that thanks to the shutdown and debt ceiling battle, the situation has changed.

Usually, the president’s party loses House seats at the midterm election, so the normal expectation would be for Republicans to gain seats. But exceptions can happen. In 1998, Democrats picked up five seats. That rather surprising result came after a rough few years, during which Speaker Newt Gingrich led the way to the last substantial shutdown, lasting 21 days.

House Republicans enjoy an exceptional advantage in the form of gerrymandered districts. In the 2012 elections, Democrats won the national popular vote by 1.5 percent, but they needed a 7.3 percent margin to take control. So broadly speaking, opinion would have to swing by about 6 percent or more for control of the House to become competitive.

It is said that public opinion has not swung as hard against Republicans as in 1995. But that statement is based on questions that ask who is more to blame, Congress or President Barack Obama. Obama is not up for re-election in 2014. A more relevant number is the generic Congressional preference, which tracks the national vote fairly well. Before the shutdown, three generic Congressional preference polls taken Sept. 23-29 (Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, Public Policy Polling) show an average of Democrats +6.0+/-1.5 percent. That’s a swing of less than 5 percent. This is the last snapshot we have before the shutdown.

More recently, a provocative set of district-level polls was conducted for MoveOn by Public Policy Polling. These are partisan organizations, but I note that of major pollsters, the Democratic-leaning PPP had the best accuracy in 2012. Also, even the worst house biases are no more than 3 percent. As we will see, even that is not enough bias to alter the conclusions here.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

  • A May Day fable SPRINGFIELD -- Growing up during the Cold War, May Day always was a bit ominous. On the evening news, we'd watch tanks, missiles and soldiers march by the reviewing stands in Moscow, Beijing and Havana where stone-faced Communist leaders would look

    April 16, 2014

  • Display it proudly Editor: Drive past the demolition site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital on North 12th Street in Mt. Vernon and you will see the Stars and Stripes proudly flying from the flag pole. The hospital has been reduced to a pile of debris, but Old Glory st

    April 16, 2014

  • Got raw milk ... and salmonella? A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk. For anyone who missed fourth-grade science, Pasteur discovered that heating milk for a very brief time killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria, camp

    April 16, 2014

  • Heartburn Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffe

    April 15, 2014

  • Hitting home I received an article today with a suggestion to use it in a column. This one really hit home to me because it was about the outrageous price increases in diabetic testing devices and supplies. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago.

    April 15, 2014

  • The cost of care This was a breakthrough week for health-care transparency. For the first time, the Obama administration released doctor-specific information about Medicare payments, starting with 2012 data on $64 billion worth of billings. Journalists immediately se

    April 15, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks