Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Backdated - US Congress (Lower House) Elections

US House of Representatives.


435 seats. Yesss! A nice big slice of statistical data pie for me, I think. Those of you following my long-term coverage (a hypothetical but loyal group) might be thinking 'Didn't we do this 2 years ago?'

Yes. Yes we did. 435 seats, elected every 2 years. That's 2175 seats a decade. I am a happy, happy man. 218 seats are needed for a majority. There are 6 additional seats up for election, but these members cannot vote and are mainly there to talk. In theory, they could sway the house's opinion with stunning rhetoric, but once again we see a system that assumes politicians are honest, hard-working people who want what is best for their country and will listen to more than just their own voice. These 6 members can also serve on congressional committees and the like.

These 6 (arguably redundant) seats are:

  • American Samoa's delegate to congress
  • Guam's delegate to congress
  • Northern Mariana Islands' delegate to congress
  • Puerto Rico's resident commissioner
  • The US Virgin Islands' delegate to congress
  • D.C.'s delegate to congress

Puerto Rico's resident commissioner is elected every four years, the rest serving two-year terms like the rest of the house.

Let's start with these guys:


Puerto Rico has never taken the option to re-elect a resident commissioner. Despite this, the resident commissioner has been a federal Republican only twice since the end of World War Two. (These kind of statistics are, however, flawed**) Federal party affiliation does not equate to party affiliation within Puerto Rico, though, and I am struggling to work out who is red and who is blue. My prediction will be a federally Democratic member other than Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia, (possibly Rafael Cox Alomar?)

American Samoa is quite easy to predict. American Samoa first elected a delegate in 1970, but it was not until 1981 that the first delegate took a seat in the house. This was Fofó Iosefa Fiti Sunia, a Democrat who held the seat until he retired in 1989. The seat was then given to Eni Faleomavaega, another Democrat, who held it until... well, today, basically. The seat has only had two holders, both Democrats, changing hands only after a resignation. This is as safely Democrat as conceivably possible.

Interestingly, Eni Faleomavaega is the most senior non-voting member in terms of the line of succession. If the president, vice president, every senator and every voting member of the house died, Eni Faleomavaega would become acting President of the United States, one place behind Ron Barber, the last-in-line of voting members.

D.C. another seat only held by two people since being founded, this time in 1971. (I am ignoring the 1871-1875 seat of the same name, held by Republican Norton Chipman.) Both holders were Democrats. Another safe Democrat win.

Virgin Islands are a little less predictable. Founded in 1973, it was Democrat for three terms, Republican for one, returned to the previous Democrat until 1995, became independent for a term and then passed to current Democrat Donna Christian-Christensen. Turbulent (by non-voting seat standards, anyway), but with long periods under the blue flag. Pretty safe Democrat win.

Guam has had four delegates. Three were Democrats, the other a Republican from 1985 to1993. Although this is the most likely seat to go to the Repubicans so far, it is still a pretty safe Democrat win.

Northern Mariana Islands, however, trump Guam, with a more pro-Republican history. From it's founding as a resident representative seat in 1978 it had two Democratic delegates, of 6 years each, then two Republicans with twelve- and seven-year terms. Upon becoming a non-voting delegate in 2009. Gregorio Sablan won the seat for the Democrats, and has now held it for two terms. Given the seat's Republican-dominated past, you may expect this seat to be volatile. It is certainly the most likely to change and most likely to vote Republican of all non-voting seats, however the main theme in my opinion is stable, re-elected representatives (contrast: Puerto Rico) and I will be tipping a Democratic win here too.

As mentioned before, Hurricane Sandy mean East-Coast Americans (including D.C.) and Caribbean islands (Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands) may have higher priorities than voting. Guam, Mariana Islands and Samoa are all in the (currently aptly-named) Pacific, closer to us than U.S. (see what I did there?) and should be fine as far as that particular storm is concerned.


AKA seats with real power. After the mid-terms the Republicans held 242 seats. It takes 218 for a majority, and most people (including me) are predicting a similar seat distribution this time around. The largely Republican swing in the Midterms have given the Republicans a good opportunity for Gerrymandering for the 2010-2020 census period, as I predicted (and more importantly, explained) in detail two years ago.*** In that post, I outlined which states I thought would be most important in this process. My top six seats to watch were Florida, Ohio, Virginia based on marginality and California, Texas and New York based on population. Democrats won California and New York, while Republicans won Florida, Ohio, Texas, Virginia

Republicans won 29 of the 50 governorships, and this may well suggest a slight Republican bias in Congress for the next decade. I am not suggesting that all of the governors made district boundary modification their top priority, but boundary modification was mandatory after the 2010 census, and few would be foolish enough to leave boundaries such that they advantaged their opponent's parties. 12 new seats have been created (Arizona 9, Florida 26, Florida 27, Georgia 14, Nevada 4, South Carolina 7, Texas 33, Texas 34, Texas 35, Texas 36, Utah 4 and Washington 10), and thus 12 have been dissolved (Illinois 19, Iowa 5, Louisiana 7, Massachusetts 10, Michigan 15, Missouri 9, New Jersey 13, New York 29, New York 28, Ohio 18, Ohio 17 and Pennsylvania 19).

Interestingly, although only 18 of the 50 states (36%) require these most radical boundary adjustments, they include four of my top six states with high Gerrymandering potential. (Texas (with a Republican governor) gains 4 seats, Florida (Republican) gains 2 seats, New York (Democrat) and Ohio (Republican) lose 2 each). This is a coincidence, as these new seats are determined by national population distribution, but it means radical boundary modifications were required in these states, and any politician with an ounce of sense will place these new divisions to legally assist his or her party. If you don't believe this is a wide spread practice, look at any any professional district-by-district predictions for Congress, such as Sabato's 'Crystal Ball' or the 'Roll Call'. With in any populous state (Texas and California are excellent examples) there will be a stack of safe Democrat seats, a stack of safe Republican seats and few in between. Such accurate polling is only possible because like minded people are either carefully segregated or so thoroughly merged that one opinion is vastly dominant, offering safe bets. For a discussion on the mechanics of Gerrymandering, see my previous post.***

This Gerrymandering, coupled with similar factors that are leading to a slight pro-Republican swing in the Presidential race, should see Congress retain at least roughly as many Republican seats as at present. Most predictions suggest a similar proportion of ~240 Republican seats. There is a general trend of a swing against the president in midterms and for re-election in full term elections, so one can view this result as a strengthening of the Republican vote cancelling out this return swing. Expect a solid pro-Republican midterm swing in 2014.


The Pokérap of electoral predictions, I'm going to do a rapid-fire run through of all 435 seats (which would nowadays be quicker than a complete Pokérap. Stupid Generations 3 and beyond...)

Democrat (Safe)

AL7, AZ3, AZ7, CA2, CA3, CA5, CA6, CA11, CA12, CA13, CA14, CA15, CA16, CA17, CA18, CA19, CA20, CA27, CA28, CA29, CA30, CA32, CA33, CA34, CA35, CA37, CA38, CA40, CA43, CA44, CA46, CA47, CA51, CA53, CO1, CO2, CO7, CT1, CT2, CT3, CT4, DE, FL5, FL9, FL20, FL21, FL23, FL24, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA13, HI1, HI2, IL1, IL2, IL3, IL4, IL5, IL7, IL9, IL18, IN1, IN7, IA1, IA2, KY3, LA2, ME1, ME2, MD2, MD3, MD4, MD5, MD7, MD8, MA1, MA2, MA3, MA4, MA5, MA7, MA8, MA9, MI5, MI9, MI12, MI13, MI14, MN1, MN4, MN5, MN7, MS2, MO1, MO5, NE1, NE2, NE3, NV1, NJ1, NJ6, NJ8, NJ9, NJ10, NJ12, NM1, NM3, NY3, NY4, NY5, NY6, NY7, NY8, NY9, NY10, NY12, NY13, NY14, NY15, NY16, NY17, NY20, NY26, NC1, NC4, NC12, OH3, OH9, OH11, OH13, OR1, OR3, OR4, OR5, PA1, PA2, PA13, PA14, PA17, RI2, SC6, TN5, TN9, TX9, TX15, TX16, TX18, TX20, TX28, TX29, TX30, TX33, TX34, TX35, VT, VA3, VA8, VA11, WA2, WA6, WA7, WA9, WA10, WV3, WI2, WI3, WI4 (168 seats)

Democrat (Predicted)

AZ1, AZ2, AZ9, CA9, CA24, CA26, CA41, CT5, FL22, FL26, IL8, IL10, IL11, IL17, KY6, MD6, MI1, NV4, NH2, NY1, NY21, NY24, NY25, NC7, RI1, WA1 (26 seats)

Republican (Safe)

AL1, AL2, AL3, AL4, AL5, AL6, AK, AZ4, AZ5, AZ6, AZ8, AR1, AR2, AR3, AR4, CA1, CA4, CA8, CA21, CA22, CA23, CA25, CA31, CA39, CA42, CA45, CA48, CA49, CA50, CO4, CO5, FL1, FL2, FL3, FL4, FL6, FL7, FL8, FL11, FL12, FL13, FL15, FL17, FL19, FL25, FL27, GA1, GA3, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10, GA11, GA14, ID1, ID2, IL6, IL14, IL15, IL16, IN3, IN4, IN5, IN6, IN9, KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4, KY1, KY2, KY4, KY5, LA1, LA3, LA4, LA5, LA6, MD1, MI2, MI3, MI4, MI6, MI7, MI8, MI10, MN2, MN3, MS1, MS3, MS4, MO2, MO3, MO4, MO6, MO7, MO8, MT, NV2, NJ2, NJ4, NJ5, NJ7, NJ11, NM2, NY2, NY22, NY23, NC2, NC3, NC5, NC6, NC9, NC10, NC11, NC13, ND, OH1, OH2, OH4, OH5, OH7, OH8, OH10, OH12, OH14, OH15, OK1, OK2, OK3, OK4, OK5, OR2, PA3, PA4, PA5, PA6, PA7, PA9, PA10, PA11, PA15, PA16, PA18, SC1, SC2, SC3, SC4, SC5, SC7, SD, TN1, TN2, TN3, TN4, TN6, TN7, TN8, TX1, TX2, TX3, TX4, TX5, TX6, TX7, TX8, TX10, TX11, TX12, TX13, TX14, TX17, TX19, TX21, TX22, TX24, TX25, TX26, TX27, TX31, TX32, TX36, UT1, UT2, UT3, VA1, VA4, VA5, VA6, VA7, VA9, VA10, WA3, WA4, WA5, WA8, WV1, WV2, WI1, WI5, WI6, WI8, WY (204 seats)

Republican (Predicted)

CA36, CO3, CO6, FL10, FL14, FL16, FL18, GA12, IN2,**** IN8, IA3, IA4, MA6, MI11, MN6, NV3, NH1, NJ3, NY11, NY18, NY19, NC8, OH6, PA8, TX23, VA2, WI7 (27 seats)


CA7, CA10, CA52, IL12, IL13, MN8, NY27, OH16, PA12, UT4 (10 seats).


Ignoring the ten tossup seats, this is 231 Republican, 194 Democrat – a clear Republican victory. In all probability, about 7 of these tossups will probably go Republican, but even if they all went to the Democrats there would still be a 27 seat margin. Expect a Republican-dominated Congress again, which may hamper Obama (if he gets in). This, combined with the traditional anti-president mid-term swing, should see a firm Republican Congress in 2014.


My predictions are based on second- or third-hand information, especially where direct, English language copies of information are unavailable. I do not expect all of my predictions to prove 100% accurate. This is just a hobby.

However, if you think I have too much spare time and an unhealthy fascination with electoral politics (both of which are undoubtedly true; elections are my sport of choice) then you should look at Randall Munroe's recent XKCD update at

That's right. Two XKCD links in one electoral post. This is because XKCD strives for statistical accuracy in every update: the comic for people who prefer physics cartoons to cartoon physics.

*This information may not prove to be vital at any point. I cannot take responsibility for any time wasted memorising this information.
****This contrasts with The New York Times, who according to Wikipedia label Indiana's Second Congressional District as Safe Democrat. I'm assuming there was a typo somewhere along the line, because there is no way IN2 is Safe Dem. No. Hecking. Way.

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