Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2012 House elections by the numbers

According to the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, by law there are 435 members of the House all up for reelection every two years. Currently, 242 are Republicans, 192 are Democrats and there is one vacancy.

A bare majority would be, if I still know how to divide by two, 218. This would mean that the Democrats will need a net gain of 26 seats in the 2012 elections to regain a majority.

The Cook Political Report, a well regarded independent, non-partisan newsletter that analyzes elections, calls 23 House seats currently held by Democrats as either leaning Democratic or a toss-up. They also say that 30 seats currently held by Republicans either lean Republican or are a toss-up.

Bottom line is that if the Democrats held on to all the seats they already have, which is not going to happen, they would need to win nearly every seat currently held by Republicans that Cook lists as either a Republican toss-up or leaning Republican. Seems to be a ridiculously tall order.

The wild card in all of this is that Cook also lists 41 additional seats as likely Republican and 20 as likely Democratic, with "likely" defined as "seats not considered competitive at this point but that have the potential to become engaged." This is a hedge that indicates that in politics as in life shit happens.

Another observation worth noting is that, if Cook is even close to being right, only 114 out of 435 seats in the House are deemed to be competitive or potentially so, which means that 321 members are in safe seats. Wow. Good gig.

Keep in mind that redistricting will screw up the neat math, but the general contour is clear.

Over the next year we will have a look at some of the House seats likely to be competitive with the thought that it is early days and anything can happen.

By the way, as of January 2010, the annual salary of each Representative is $174,000. The Speaker of the House earns $223,500 and Majority and Minority Leaders earn $193,400 each. As I say, if you are looking for a change in careers, this particular public service opportunity doesn't look half bad.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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