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The current Republican House majority is based primarily in the South and secondarily in the Midwest. In the former (which in this publication includes the 11 states of the old Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma), Republicans emerged from the 2014 election with a 73-seat advantage over the Democrats - a number that dwarfs the party’s 59-seat majority nationwide. Meanwhile, Democrats have a decided edge in the Northeast and the West. The current geography of the 114th Congress contrasts with the GOP House majority after the 1994 election, when Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Their majority was smaller then (230 seats compared with 247 after the 2014 balloting), yet was more broad-based geographically. The Republican advantage in the South at the time was much smaller but the party controlled the majority of seats in three of the four regions (the South, Midwest and West), as opposed to their dominance in two regions, which is the case now.
A total of 19 House seats switched party hands in 2014 (or 4% of the entire body). Sixteen seats shifted to the Republicans, three to the Democrats, for a net gain of 13 for the GOP. Altogether, Republicans gained three seats in New York, two seats in Illinois, and one each in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas , Utah and West Virginia, while Democrats gained one seat each in California and Nebraska. In Florida, the Democrats and Republicans each picked up one seat, for a net change of zero. “(O)” in the chart below indicates an open seat.
The Republicans’ midterm victory in 2014 was accomplished against a backdrop of low turnout, as the GOP received nearly 5 million fewer congressional votes than in 2010. In addition, the number of ballots cast for Democratic House candidates was down nearly 3.5 million from four years earlier, producing an overall falloff of 8.5 million votes from 2010 to 2014. Put another way, one out of every 10 voters in 2010 did not cast a ballot in 2014. The aggregate vote for the House of Representatives is the closest thing to a nationwide popular vote in a midterm election. It is the only office contested in all 50 states (although to be sure, in a few districts one candidate runs unopposed and no vote is taken). Altogether, the 78 million congressional votes cast in 2014 was the lowest midterm total since 2002, and marked the first time since 1998 that the number of ballots cast for the House was lower than in the previous midterm election four years earlier.
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