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Being something of an amateur data nerd, I decided to take a closer look at the popular vote for the House to see if it looked like the Democrats were likely to come out ahead when all the counting is finished and how one might quantify any disparity between vote totals and seat totals. (First of all, a big thank you to whoever posted the earlier diary with the link to the AP's XML file: .)

Using Excel, I was able to generate state-by-state totals as well as overall totals. Two notes on "methodology" here:

1) The AP is still reporting 0 votes in any race where there was only one candidate. I adjusted for this by adding in 175,000 votes for each of these candidates. Totals in the low- to mid-100,000s seem to be fairly common for winning candidates, and these districts are likely disproportionately tilted towards the party of the single candidate.

2) I removed the totals for special elections, i.e. the few cases where people were voting on the same race twice (once to fill the seat immediately, and again when the new Congress convenes). Only the general election totals are counted for these races. brief, the Dems are a smidgen ahead if you actually count the zeroes as zeroes, and a smidgen behind with the 175k numbers that I added in. Obviously, not all races are finished counting yet, but based on what was out there when I downloaded the XML file a couple hours ago, combined with the 175k adjustments, here are the overall percentages, along with three ways to look at how the seats would break down if they were actually awarded proportionally:

Interestingly, if you include the Greens and Libertarians and go strictly by percentage, i.e. multiply everyone's percentage by 435 and round to the nearest, we'd end up with what would be called a "hung parliament" in Britain, i.e. nobody has a majority. Discarding the votes for "Other" (which do, in fact, reflect a smorgasbord of parties and independents) still results in a House with no majority.

Of course, systems which use proportional representation generally have a minimum "threshold" below which parties are not awarded any seats, so if you assume that the Greens and Libertarians are out of luck on that basis, you literally get a 1-seat Republican majority (which, if the Dems were to inch ahead by just 1 vote, would flip to a 1-seat Democratic majority, since 435 is an odd number).

However, here's something else to consider: what if the seat totals in each state were closer to the proportion of votes cast for House candidates in that same state? I thought this might be more informative in terms of determining where gerrymandering or just underperformance may have helped or hurt the Democrats and the Republicans, so I again ran some numbers.

For example, here's Florida. The GOP are winning the popular vote for the House, 51.1-45.2. I adjust these numbers to reflect the 2-party vote and get 53.1-46.9. Multiply these percentages by the total of 27 seats and you get a 14-13 GOP advantage, compared to the 17-10 that the GOP actually won:

Here's where things get interesting - I ran these numbers for all 50 states, and found the following. (For the few House races not yet called, I just gave it to whoever's ahead in the AP data.)

1) There are 21 states where this sort of disproportionality benefits the Republicans, compared to 12 states where the disparity benefits the Democrats and 17 where it makes no difference.

2) Among the 21 where the GOP benefit are 7 Obama states - Florida (probably), Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

3) Also among these 21 are 4 states where Dems may win the total popular vote for the House but the delegation is majority GOP - Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin - and 1 - New Jersey - where they will almost certainly win the popular vote but the delegation is tied.

4) By contrast, all 12 states where the Democrats benefit are Obama states, and all of them by double digits with the exception of New Hampshire. (2-seat states are exceptionally likely to show this kind of disproportionality - even freakin' Idaho would be 1-1 if you take the 2-party percentages and round to the nearest.)

5) If seats were distributed on a proportional state-by-state basis like this, my current numbers would result in 222-213 GOP majority, compared to the 235-200 tally we'll get if all the most recent leads hold. So still a Republican majority, but one that would fall apart with just 5 defections on any given floor vote.

6) Also of note: while 1-seat states by definition cannot show a disproportionality under this system (anything above 50% rounds to 1), the GOP do benefit from carrying 5 of these states (Alaska, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming) while the Dems only have 2 (Delaware, Vermont).

The full table of state-by-state estimates is below if anyone is interested. Also, I'm thinking of taking a look at some actual vote tallies (as opposed to just percentages) in certain states for House, Senate, and Presidential candidates to see how much of this may be gerrymandering and how much of it might be attributable to other factors.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The house is like a mini electoral college (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we racked up votes in certain CDs but not evenly distributed to win seats.

    Also in 2010 GOP redistricted themselves into a majority unless Dems can win again in the south and then wont happen until O is out.

    ...because the south is racists.  (wasn't sure if that was clear)

    •  The origin of the Electoral college is in the (0+ / 0-)

      Senate and the US House.

      If the people agrees about some structural advantage in the Electoral College this year that makes Obama has a bigger percentage of Electoral votes than the percentage of the popular vote, why this is not also reflected in the US House?

      The reason for it is only the pro-Republican redistricting.

      An extreme partisan Gerrymander for the party winner in every state (without VRA) would drive the US House to the Electoral College distribution.

      The Democratic Party is losing a lot here.

  •  Great analysis (0+ / 0-)

    Was thinking of doing something similar, but you've done a terrific job.  I hadn't realized the uncontested seats were counted in the AP figures, that ruins the talking-point that we took a popular vote majority even for the House (unless the final count puts us back on top).

    Looks like the 2-seat states don't really fit a proportional approach.  Reminds me of the 2008 primary season, where delegate distribution got funky for similar reasons.

    Just eyeballing each state from your numbers, seems like gerrymandering costs us about 16 seats for real.  That's on net -- we get a few from Illinois, etc.  Not sure how to account for CA, since those maps came from a non-partisan commission; it maybe just be that such a strong D state will naturally result in more than proportional results (similar to CT or AL).

    Not sure how to model that more mathematically.  Maybe once all the votes are fully counted and certified, might be worth re-visiting.  But great to see it all laid out so clearly here, thanks!

    •  Talking point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Regardless of who comes out a hair ahead, I think a better talking point is that it's essentially a tie. There are enough factors such as uncontested seats, voters who don't bother with the downticket races, and third-party/write-in votes that cloud the question of whether a majority, or even a plurality, "really" wanted a Democratic or Republican majority on election day. What's clear, though, is that they did not give the House Republicans a mandate to just do whatever they want and refuse to work constructively with Obama and the Senate.

  •  This fell through the cracks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeedTheMessenger, andgarden, abgin

    last week, but fantastic work!

  •  Thanks for this (0+ / 0-)

    I hope you will update the numbers in a follow-up after the count is complete.

    It seems likely, for example, that Democrats will win a majority of the seats in Arizona.

    Also, I am surprised that we did so poorly in the Ohio statewide total.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:27:46 PM PST

  •  Huh! (0+ / 0-)

    That table at the bottom, calculating the contrast between actual seats won and how many they would have been using proportional representation, has some real surprises.

    Eg it's no surprise at all to see the ueber-gerrymandered states of North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania (favouring the GOP) and Maryland and Illinois (favouring the Dems) end near the top or near the bottom of the ranking. But California, freshly redistricted by independent commission, at the very bottom? And despite its highly gerrymandered character, Texas is nearer to the middle.

  •  There's a qualitative difference... (0+ / 0-)

    between the most Republican gerrymandered states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the "blue" states where there are a disproportionate number of Democratic House seats.  In the blue states, the vote disparity is so overwhelming that it would take a really skillful gerrymander to carve out red districts.  In Massachusetts, for example, you might have to create districts drawn to include individual voters to carve out two Republican-friendly districts.  In no case do we have more people voting Republican and more Democratic seats, but there are four states with more people voting Democratic and more Republican house members.

    The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

    by DaytonMike on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 05:54:51 AM PST

  •  Sorry I missed this earlier (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent work.

    As a note, I've been running the total House PV every day. I was using 240K as a plug for the uncontested seats based on the two from Ohio. Georgia is the only other SOS with uncontested votes reported, and adding those three brings the average vote down to 224K. The GOP have 5 more uncontested races, so figure the GOP get 1.12 million added to their margin.

    The initial numbers run by ThinkProgress (ignoring the uncontested races) gave the Dems a 550K lead. As of a couple days ago, the lead had only grown to 700K, so unlikely that the Dems would overcome the 1.12 million uncontested GOP lead. However, the last two days have seen the Dems gain >100K per day, to a contested lead of 930K currently. This does bring about a real possibility that the Dems will actually take the total House PV lead. Obviously, a lower estimated average uncontested vote count could put it in play now.

    Many argue that this is moot, and true, it isn't going to correct the makeup of the House. I think it is an important data point to offset the meme that the American people chose to vote for divided government. Anything we have that can help weaken the GOP's argument is worth documenting.

    Disclaimer: If the above comment can possibly be construed as snark, it probably is.

    by grubber on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 06:49:31 AM PST

    •  Thanks! BTW... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...have you managed to find precinct-level numbers? I'd like to compare the Obama/Romney totals in competitive districts to the House candidates' totals, but so far the most "localized" results I've found in a single place are the county-level breakdowns. Since a lot of districts cut across counties, I can't really compare the Obama/Romney totals to the votes for specific House candidates with those numbers.

  •  Very nice... (0+ / 0-)

    It's a nice representation of what MMP might look like if it were implemented in the United States. Although, it probably overstates the advantage for republicans and underestimates the advantage of third parties that would thrive under such a system. It seems the best way to redistrict on the whole would be to implement the California system. It would probably result in more competitive elections in more districts. Of course since the House of Representatives isn't completely proportionally it would still result in some states having more republican seats and others more democratic seats due to the distribution of voters in those states.

    •  If the vote were really proportional... (0+ / 0-)

      ...there would be a number of factors that would come into play that aren't reflected by these numbers.

      For example, if we suppose that there still aren't any viable third parties, I think their vote would actually decrease. I can't say for sure, but I suspect that at least some of the third-party votes are cast by people who know that their districts are noncompetitive and want to cast a protest vote or even where only one of the two major parties is on the ballot (which I think did happen in a few cases). If we had an MMP system where only the Democrats and Republicans are viable, I think it's safe to assume that both parties would contest every district so as to run up their total votes. And a left-wing voter who decides to vote Green because the House race isn't close, for example, would be more likely to go ahead and vote Democratic.

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