Congress Election 2012: Why the System is Rigged for Republican Incumbents


Concluding our three-day look at whether any of the country’s problems are likely to be solved in the coming years, we turn to the House of Representatives, which is presently held by the Republicans.

There are 435 seats at stake, each for a two-year term, and then we get to do it again in 2014. Control of the House requires 218 seats, and the GOP is well positioned to maintain it.

According to Real Clear Politics, the Republicans lead in every category: “solid” 178 to 145; “likely” 28-21; and “leaning” 23-17. This leaves only 23 toss-ups, but even an unlikely sweep of these would give the Democrats only 206 to the Republicans 229. Republicans need to win 12 of the 23 to maintain their current 241 to 194 edge.

Vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan is hedging his bets by running for his Wisconsin House seat and he is unlikely to lose. Actually, thanks to gerrymandering, few House incumbents are likely to lose.

Gerrymandering is the science of denying voters a meaningful choice by distorting the shapes of congressional districts to make them safe for one side or the other. Today’s picture shows an early example of the practice.

Since little is likely to change in the House, there is not much to learn. That leaves plenty of time to find how to pronounce "gerrymander." According to a direct descendant of Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts Congressman and signer of the Declaration of Independence for whom the practice is named, it is “G like in God, not G like in Jesus.”

One hundred percent of the political smarty-pants set get this wrong, so here is your chance to strut your stuff unless you prefer the majority side of the “tomayto-tomahto” battle. People named Elbridge are reliably in the “tomahto” camp.

The “mander” part is uncontroversial and always correctly pronounced suggesting that the political smarty-pants set does better with lizards than people.

If all of the shenanigans came to an end today, virtually nothing would have changed. White House to the incumbent; Senate to the Democrats with a one-seat Republican pickup; and little change to the Republican majority in the House. With six weeks to go (during which much could change), it looks like several billion dollars will have found their way into consultant and media pockets with little to show for it.

Cross-posted at Liberty Pell