David Kirkpatrick

December 16, 2008

Democratic domination in the House

Interesting analysis from Nate Silver at 538.

From the link:

Even in districts where the Republicans did compete, moreover, they were often not truly competitive. The Democrats had 126 districts that they won by 40 points or more (including races that they won uncontested); these are what I call Democrat-Dominant Districts (DDD’s). These districts represent approximately half of the Democratic seats in the House, and nearly 30 percent of the House in its entirety. By contrast, the Republicans had only had 30 districts that they won by 40 or more points, of which 22 are in the South.

What characteristics did the DDD’s hold in common? In general, they were more urban, younger and poorer (although not any less educated) than the country as whole, and contained a significantly higher share of minorities. But, with 126 such districts, there was quite a bit of room for diversity between them. Basically, the Republicans aren’t competitive virtually anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard north of Washington, D.C., and virtually anywhere on the Pacific Coast north of Monterey. They aren’t competitive in virtually any dense urban center, or in virtually any majority-minority district (such as the black belt in the South or Hispanic-majority districts in South Texas). Finally, there are a dozen or so districts where Republicans are virtually nonexistant because of the presence of a large College or University. Collectively, that adds up to a lot of districts — almost a third of the country.

Conversely, the Democrats have very few districts in which they can’t play some angle or another. Nearly all of the Republican-dominated districts fit into a particular template: white, Southern, rural or exurban, lower-middle class (but not usually impoverished), low-mobility, with poorly-diversified economies reliant on traditional sectors like manufacturing or agriculture. There are only a couple dozen such districts throughout the country

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