|Update: Some posters have noted that I may be wrong about IN-2, in that Obama may have carried it (i.e. McCain may have won 49 seats) while I may have incorrectly excluded MI-11 from Obama's total (because he dominated Oakland Count in MI). I will go back and check my data and correct ASAP. In the mean time, pls keep firing away. Tks
Update 2: Rechecked the data on Donnelly and have corrected accordingly. Obama did win IN-02, so McCain/D is down by 1. Also, a very sharp poster pointed out Obama won WI-6 by the itsy bitiest margin, which surpised me a lot about that district, so chalk one up for an additional Obama/R +1. Will still look at MI-11 and KS-3.
Update 3: Looks like Mary Jo Kilroy won OH-15, so 111th Congress will be 257 (D) to 178 (R). Basically, the GOP goes back to what it had in Jan 1993. Well...you play the cards you are dealt.
I have been following this metric since the 1980s and even going back to the 1970s, when, in some elections, 40% or more congressional districts were ticket-splitters (e.g. in 1972 and 1984, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, respectively, each, won over 180 Democratic held congressional districts). I am very familiar with the federal voting patterns of many of these districts even after redistricting, but I will not claim that my analysis is 100% correct. I believe I am sure of 90% of them and may be within a few hundred or 1-2k of the remaining 10%. Of these 10%, I included an asterisk (*) after the district number, as noted below, I did not expect would be ticket-splitters but don't have enough data to say that otherwise (or vice versa)
The more accurate reports for the incoming 111th Congress will be published by folks like Congressional Quarterly or the Almanac of American Politics by Feb or March 2009 at the earliest. However, I did my own analysis and came up with what I believe is close to what the final data will reveal. I don't believe Virgil Goode can win the recount against Tom Periello in VA-5 nor do I see Carmouche (sadly, since he was by far the better candidate) overtaking Fleming in LA-4 as it was such a low turnout election). Based on this allocation, the Obama-R and McCain-D districts are as follows:
OBAMA/R CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS (32 total)
Gallegly (CA-24); Dreier (CA-26)*; Bono-Mack (CA-45)*; Bilbray (CA-50); Castle (DE-AL); Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18)*; Young (FL-10); Latham (IA-4); Roskam (IL-6); Kirk (IL-10); Biggert (IL-13); Johnson (IL-15)*; Manzullo (IL-16); Schock (IL-18)*; Cao (LA-2); Camp (MI-4); Upton (MI-6); Rogers (MI-8); Paulsen (MN-3); Terry (NE-2); Lobiondo (NJ-2); Smith (NJ-4); Lance (NJ-7); King (NY-3)*; LaTourette (OH-14); Gerlach (PA-6); Dent (PA-15); Forbes (VA-4); Wolf (VA-10); Reichert (WA-8); Ryan(WI-1) and Petri (WI-6).
MCCAIN/D CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS (49 total)
Bright (AL-2); Griffith (AL-5); Berry (AR-1); Snyder (AR-2); Ross (AR-4); Kirkpatrick (AZ-1); Mitchell (AZ-5); Giffords (AZ-8)*; Markey (CO-4); Salazar (CO-3); Boyd (FL-2); Marshall (GA-8); Minnick (ID-1); Ellsworth (IN-8); Hill (IN-9); Moore (KS-3); Chandler (KY-6); Melancon (LA-3); Kratovil (MD-1); Peterson (MN-07); Childers (MS-1); Taylor (MS-4); Skelton (MO-4); Pomeroy (ND-AL); Teague (NM-2); McMahon (NY-13); Massa (NY-29); Etheridge (NC-2); McIntyre (NC-7); Shuler (NC-11); Wilson (OH-6); Boccieri (OH-16); Space (OH-18); Boren (OK-2); Dahlkemper (PA-3); Altmire (PA-4); Carney (PA-10); Murtha (PA-12); Spratt (SC-5); Hersheth-Sandlin (SD-AL); Davis (TN-4); Gordon (TN-6); Tanner (TN-8); Periello (VA-5); Boucher (VA-9); Mollohan (WV-1); Rahall (WV-3); Edwards (TX-17) and Matheson (UT-2).
Obama will have won 208 Democratic held congressional districts and 32 Republican held congressional districts: total of 240; McCain will have won 146 Republican held congressional districts and 49 Democratic-held congressional districts: total of 195.
A few key things to keep in mind:
Historical Patterns: As has been the case since 1968, but with the exception of Bill Clinton in 1996, the GOP Presidential nominee, win or lose, has won more ticket-splitting districts than the Democratic Presidential nominee. Compared to 2004 when John Kerry won 18 Republican held congressional districts while George Bush won 41 Democratic held congressional districts, Obama did better than Kerry by wining 14 more GOP held districts while McCain got 8 more Democratic-held districts. However, this "improvement" is masked by the fact that Democrats retook the House in 2006 with a 31 seat pickup and appear to have increased their margin by 21 seats in 2008. One way of looking at this data is to see which ticket-splitting districts are held by freshman members and/or which ones are held by freshman members succeeding or defeating a politician from the opposing party. On that metric, only 1 Obama-R district, Aaron Schock of IL-18*, is held by a freshmen and no Obama-R district switched from Democrat to Republican control (i.e. they were all GOP retentions); whereas all but 1 of the 12 McCain-D districts won by a freshman was a Democratic retention (Parker Griffith AL-5 succeed retiring Democrat Bud Cramer). This suggests that virtually all ticket-splitting districts held by freshmen are Democratic defenses. This may be a good or bad thing: good in that they may have a better chance to hold in an off-year election when turnout is lower but bad in that absent the weight of Bush or a poorly run GOP presidential campaign, the GOP may be able to focus more intently on partisan affiliation in these districts.
As for how this portends for Obama getting difficult measures through the 111th Congress, note that just because Obama won a district that voted for the GOP doesn't mean he can expect the Republican to support him more often than not. For example, Bill Clinton won 50 ticket-splitting seats in 1992 yet not one single House Republican (or even Senate Republican for that matter) voted for his Budget Bill in August 1993; a mere 10 months after he won their districts. A president is only as strong as his popularity projects and seeing that there are now fewer Republican moderates in the House, I won't be surprised if Obama has to pass a lot of difficult legislation on Democratic only votes.
Redistricting and Partisanship Voting: One cannot underestimate how big an impact this has had on voting results in some districts. This may in part explain why wave elections may be less frequent and evenly distributed across the country than before. In TX and CA, many Democratic under-funded challengers to non-stellar GOP house members lost. In the case of CA, redistricting was a major firewall for them even though Obama, in dominating the state, won 4 GOP held seats. In TX it was a combination of redistricting and straight ticket voting which hurt folks like Larry Joe Daugherty and Mike Skelly and almost brought down Chet Edwards. For Democrats to have a better shot at improving their margins, they have to look at redistricting. I happen to think that non-partisan redistricting using what I call the "contiguous-county rule" (see an example by Andrew White at Albany Project http://www.thealbanyproject.co... would help Democrats (and Republicans) in the long run, but that is a debate for another day and another diary. Suffice to say, had Dems faced districts like that in CA, David Dreier, Mary Bono-Mack (I love this hyphenated name), Brian Bilbray, Dan Lundgren and possibly Dana Rohrabacher would have lost while Nick Lampson and Charlie Brown would have won.
Surprises: I'm not surprised that Obama may have won all but one GOP held seat in his home state of Illinois* or that McCain may have won 3 of the 5 Democratic held congressional districts in his home state of Arizona*. However, a few things to note across the regions:
• EAST COAST: Not sure what else is here but suffice to say New England is to the Democrats what the Deep South is to the GOP. Obama's only weak Dem seats are in NY-13, NY-29 (both of which he lost) and NY-3 (which he won narrowly). In NY-13, I suspect Obama's narrow loss may have been due to residual racism among conservative Jewish voters in southwestern Brooklyn and unfounded fears that Obama may be a Muslim; NY-29 is the most republican district in NY state so his loss there was not unexpected, but NY-3 was weaker for Obama because he underperformed Kerry and Gore among the white-working class voters in the southern portion of the district where most voters live and with the wealthier and heavily Jewish neighborhoods in the northern portion of the district. In NJ, Obama did win one additional ticket-splitting seat by capturing Leonard Lance's NJ-7 (which, but for a flawed nominee, was ripe for a Dem takeover). No other real surprises were noted from DE down to MD, though it appears that Obama improved on all prior Democratic performances in MD's Anne Arundel County, a critical Republican leaning area.
• MID-WEST: Obama over-performed Gore and Kerry in the Mid-West not only because of huge margins in the cities but also did very well in many suburban Republican counties that even Bill Clinton did not carry. The clearest example was Cincinnati, OH; GOP counties around Indianapolis and Dupage County in Illinois. However, Obama does have an Appalachia problem (or the other way round) and for the first time since 1988, the Democratic nominee lost PA-12, Jack Murtha's district (though Obama won Tim Holden's PA-17 thanks to his smashing victory in Berks County, which Bill Clinton, Gore and Kerry all lost). Obama suffered heavy losses across KY, Southern OH and IN which accounted for McCain's ticket-splitting seats in some of these districts (Charlie Wilson OH-6 and Baron Hill in IN-9, to mention a few). Yet even though he lost most of the congressional districts in OH and IN, he still won both states. Obama won Paul Ryan's southern Wisconsin district (which I guess, makes Ryan one of a handful of very conservative GOP members representing a district won by Obama). Michigan was a case where the GOP effectively collapsed at all levels when McCain pulled out (might have happened regardless) and Obama's coattails probably helped Mike Schaeur and Gary Peters win longtime GOP districts. Additionally, Obama came very close to winning John Kline's district in MN-2 and Colin Peterson's in MN-7 but underperformed Elwynn Tinkelberg who narrowly lost to Michelle Bachmann. Finally, while Missouri was not the bellwether in 2008, it was the narrowest state (Obama lost by less than 4k votes). I think he will carry the state in 2012 but 4 years is a lifetime in politics.
• SOUTH: This is a tough area for Dems regardless of who the nominee is. With the exception of six Democratic held districts (Kissel, Price and Miller in NC; Nye in VA, Cooper in TN and Barrow in GA) Obama lost every majority-white district held by a Southern white democrat from Virginia through the Florida panhandle to Texas. He even lost the ancestrally democratic AR-1, AR-4 and TN-8. Some might chalk this up to racially polarized voting but that is too easy an explanation. I'm sure some voters were fearful of a black President but those folks just don't vote Democratic in the south anymore. These districts are populated by socially conservative folks and Obama, at least in my view, is probably the most socially liberal Democrat ever nominated. I think he could have minimized his losses had he campaigned more in these places but I suspect many of these Dems preferred he stayed away, which he did and I can understand why. In any event, only Republican dominated TX and GA will see population increases in 2010 but because these are Section 5 states, I doubt their GOP legislatures can squeeze out that many more GOP friendly districts to pass the smell test with Eric Holder's Justice Department. However, in the case of TN, the GOP has taken over the TN legislature and Democratic Gov. Bredesen is term-limited so Dems must hold the TN Governorship in 2010 or risk adverse gerrymandering.
• WEST: Obama held on to sleeper GOP presidential voting but Democratic held districts like Pete De Fazio in OR (yes, while he is a very liberal his district was a ticket-splitter until narrowly going for Kerry and staying with Obama) and Jerry McNerney's in CA However, nothing beats Obama's impressive margins in CO and Southern CA and while he did not win any GOP held seats in the former, his margin in San Diego and Riverside counties helped him tremendously in wining two GOP seats that last voted Democratic eons ago. On the other hand, Walter Minnick of ID-1 is now the most endangered House member and unless he catches a solid break, I'm doubtful he can hold on to his seat in 2010. But if Jim Matheson can survive, there may be hope for Walter, but don't be surprised if he loses in 2010.
Future Prospects: The 50 state strategy or what I call "cast your net as wide as reasonably possible" works and I think both parties should compete everywhere as it is good for the American people. However, a lot of these gains and improvements depend on the success of the Obama presidency. More importantly, it depends heavily on Obama defining what a 21st century Democratic office holder should stand for (a la Reagan and Republicans of the 1980s) and showing that those principles will generate lasting results. It also depends on enacting enduring legislation like health care and putting into place long lasting policies that will foster growth of good paying American jobs so people don't despair and buy into the false choices created by mindless culture wars.