Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The house history, Part II

Last post, we looked at the total number of house seats that both parties have held since 1988. This post, we look at what percentage each party got.

If parties got votes, which they EMPHATICALLY do not, as I have tried to patiently explain to a very smart British scholar who seems to miss the point of American politics.
But lets pretend for a minute that they do. This is what percentage of the votes candidates for both parties have gotten since 1988:
This shows much the same trend as the last chart: in 1994, the Republican Party got a slight advantage in the vote, probably due to a demographic shift with union voters and southern voters, which then reversed in 2006 and 2008, which could have been either a demographic shift, or an event-driven shift.
What it shows that is even more significant is how tenuous both party's hold on the house is, percentage wise. Most significantly, the 1994 "Republican Revolution" was not caused by an upswing in the Republican's percentage, but a downswing in the Democratic percentage. In 1994, the Republicans got 47.8% of the vote, hardly a "revolution". In fact, in this graph, there is only one year in which the Republican Party got more than 50% of the house vote, and that was 2004. Not that the Democratic Party has done much better, although the last two elections have had pretty good numbers.

There is a number of things that can happen this November, but based on this graph, I am going to guess that neither party will have much of an advantage in percentage, or in seats. A lot depends on whether the last two elections were about changing demographics, or about swing voters reacting to events.

In any case, my own guess based on both of these graphs, is that the election will go something like 50.1% to 49.9% (although, of course, numbers won't add to 100), with either party capturing the high number. Also, the party with the higher percentage might not win the house. Whichever party does win the house will win by a small margin of seats, probably around 5 seats.

And, the national media being what it is, the week after the election, whoever wins will be spun as a new NARRATIVE. If the Republicans manage to get 100,000 extra voters and 5 extra seats, it will be a NARRATIVE that the mainstream of the United States has refudiated BIG GOVERNMENT. If the Democratic party manages to swing those 100,000 votes and hold on to a 5 point advantage, the NARRATIVE will be that the mainstream of the United States has refudiated TEA PARTY EXTREMISTS. In either case, no such thing will have happened, and a new narrative will be found.

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