Okay, it's true that Nancy Pelosi isn't Speaker of the House again. But Democrats won the U.S. House of Representatives in this year's election in the same sense that Vice President Al Gore won the White House in 2000. That is to say that Democratic House candidates received more votes than Republican House candidates.
Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.So, why is John Boehner still Speaker? In a word: gerrymander. After the 2010 census, Republican-led state legislatures redrew congressional districts to divide and distribute Democratic voters among majority-Republican districts.
Pissed? Me too. Unfortunately, it gets worse.
Partisan gerrymandering exists for one purpose: to cut off the ability of people who disagree with a state’s ruling party to influence future elections. It is a a clear violation of the First Amendment, which absolutely prohibits viewpoint discrimination. Yet the Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility to end this discrimination in its 5-4 decision in Vieth v. Jubelirer, where the conservative justices tossed out a lawsuit alleging that Pennsylvania’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally drawn to maximize Republican representation in Congress.With five justices on the Supreme Court prepared, it seems, to carve out the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that protect geographic concentrations of minority voters in the South from such gerrymandering, winning back the House will continue to be a significant challenge.
If you have any solutions to propose, then please share. The first step, however, is recognizing that we have a problem. So I urge you to spread the word, spread the outrage, and rather than getting over it--as Justice Scalia would prefer--let's get on it.
11-12-12 UPDATE: Steve Benen is on the case.
A narrow plurality of Americans may have preferred Democratic House candidates, but it didn't matter -- the district lines were too carefully drawn in the GOP's favor after the 2010 midterms. The result is a fairly unusual political landscape: according to one count, this is the first time since 1952 that a party won the congressional "popular vote" but remained in the House minority...
As the debates over taxes, spending, debt-reduction, and plenty of other policy areas proceed, Republicans are certain to argue that "the American people" elected a GOP-led House to, at a minimum, prevent Democrats from pursuing their agenda. Boehner, Cantor & Co. will insist they're simply reflecting the electorate's will.
And they'll be wrong. Most Americans voted for a Democratic presidential candidate, Democratic Senate candidates, and even Democratic House candidates.