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We simply must win back the state legislatures. There are several reasons each of which, I believe, is sufficient in and of itself. First, it is utterly unacceptable to have voter suppression laws pass. It is unconscionable. The fact that republicans would do this alone disqualifies them from consideration from any reasonable voter. I despise them for their efforts to do this. Second, anti choice legislation must not be foisted upon American women and American families. No, not in 2012. Third, we must win back the US House of Representatives. It is this third reason that I wish to concentrate on in this diary.

Why did we not retake the US House of Representatives ?

After all, we have the resultsfrom the elections.

Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of this writing, votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican 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.
More than half a million.

What is Gerrymanderring ?

In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan or incumbent-protected districts. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (ˈɡɛrimændər, alt. ˈdʒɛriˌmændər); however, that word can also refer to the process.
While there are limits to gerrymandering (it cannot be unfair to minority populations), state legislatures and the state courts create the boundaries (using software) for congressional districts. Republicans control most state legislatures. Mitt Romney only won 24 states. However, we have the following results :
24    Republican-controlled governments
14    Democratic-controlled governments
3    Democratic Governor/Republican-controlled Legislature
4    Republican Governor/Democratic-controlled Legislature
1    Independent Governor/Democratic-controlled Legislature
1    Republican Governor/Split Legislature
2    Democratic Governor/Split Legislature
1    Republican Governor/Non-partisan Legislature (Nebraska)
50    Total
Fewer people vote for state senators and state representatives than for US Representatives and US Senators. Therefore, we have the ability to make more of an impact in those races. Let us all remember that President Obama once served as a State Senator in Illinois.

If we do not take back more of the state legislatures, we will still not be able to win back the US House of Representatives unless we win in a wave election.

Consider this :

Consider Pennsylvania, where President Obama won 52 percent of the votes cast, and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey defeated his Republican rival, 53 percent to 45 percent. Yet Democrats won just five of that state’s 18 U.S. House seats. They carried both districts in the Philadelphia area — by 85 percent and 89 percent, respectively — and three other districts, by 77, 69 and 61 percent. Of the 13 districts where Republicans prevailed, GOP candidates won seven with less than 60 percent of the vote; in only one district did the Republican candidate’s total exceed 65 percent of the votes cast.

Why such lopsided numbers? Because Republican-controlled redistricting after the 2010 Census packed Democratic voters into a handful of imaginatively shaped districts around Pennsylvania’s urban centers and created a slew of GOP districts in the rest of the state. The overwhelming Democratic margins in the two heavily African American Philadelphia districts didn’t require constructing oddly shaped districts, but carving up the rest of the state to minimize districts that Democrats might win required politically driven line-drawing of the highest order.

DeLong points out
D.R. and M.D.:

Congressional representation: Now that’s what I call voter suppression: NO SOONER had Barack Obama been re-elected than John Boehner sought to pre-empt the president’s argument that his agenda had been vindicated. “The American people want solutions,” the speaker of the House said, “and tonight, they’ve responded by renewing our House Republican majority. With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”

Did not! The Democrats won 50.6% of the votes for president, to 47.8% for the Republicans; 53.6% of the votes for the Senate, to 42.9% for the Republicans; and… 49% of the votes for the House, to 48.2

[I]t is a problem for the country that the House has ceased to reflect the immediate popular will. The current crop of Congressional Republicans have proved themselves willing to go to unprecedented lengths--principally putting the Treasury at risk of default--in order to implement their policy agenda… perhaps the biggest changes in decades to the role of government in the economy will be negotiated by a party that was rejected at the polls. For at least the next two years, America will remain stuck with a gravely unrepresentative House of Representatives…

For a graphical representation of how messed up things are check this out:
So how did Republicans keep their House majority despite more Americans voting for the other party—something that has only happened three times in the last hundred years, according to political analyst Richard Winger? Because they drew the lines.

After Republicans swept into power in state legislatures in 2010, the GOP gerrymandered key states, redrawing House district boundaries to favor Republicans. In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates received half of the votes in House contests, but Republicans will claim about three-quarters of the congressional seats. The same is true in North Carolina. More than half the voters in that state voted for Democratic representation, yet Republicans will fill about 70 percent of the seats. Democrats drew more votes in Michigan than Republicans, but they'll take only 5 out of the state's 14 congressional seats.

As long as they get to draw the lines for the congressional districts, we will face a very uphill battle trying to win back the US House of Representatives even if we win more votes for our Democratic US House of Representative Candidates.

And the consequences of this? A reasonable budget cannot pass. The Bush tax cuts will expire. However, the middle class tax cuts will also expire. We will be able to get very little passed or done.

We must step up our efforts to win back state legislatures and governor seats.

A little more research reveals

We conclude that there was a general preference for Democrats in 2012 House races of 52% to 48%--roughly the same as the Republican advantage of 52% to 48% in the 2010 midterm elections. The Democratic wave this year had much less impact than the Republican one in 2010 because despite the large Republican majority in Congress, very few Republicans actually represented Democratic-leaning districts--in sharp contrast to the number of Democrats representing Republican districts in 2010. This disparity is tied to the Democrats' inefficient distribution of their votes--primarily resulting from the Democratic vote being naturally more concentrated, and in some cases (such as in North Carolina, where Democrats won four of 13 seats while winning the statewide popular vote in House races) due to gerrymandered maps.

Open Seat Percentages versus District Partisanship: FairVote determines the partisanship of districts and assesses the average relative performance of Democratic and Republican candidates compared to that partisanship in open seats, where neither party has the advantage of running an incumbent. We determined that Democrats on average ran 2.1% ahead of district partisanship in open seats, which translates to 4.2% of the Republican candidates in those races.
"Incumbency Bump": FairVote calculates the average margin by which Democratic and Republican incumbents outperformed their district partisanship in their vote percentages. In strong incumbent years such as 2000, the average incumbency bump for both parties can be more than 8% (meaning an incumbent on average would receive 60% of the vote in a district where that candidate's party would be projected to get 52% of the vote in an open seat election). When one party's incumbents on average receive a greater "incumbency bump" than the other party's incumbents, there is an overall preference for that party in the election. This year, Democratic incumbents ran 6.2% ahead of district partisanship on average, as opposed to 2.5% for Republican incumbents - an edge of 3.7% for Democrats

The 500,000 vote total from the source above may have slightly changed - probably not in a significant way and most votes being counted now are provisional = Democratic lean. They do not count races where there was no choice - only the incumbent. There were more Republicans in this situation than Democrats. So, that would mitigate the number to some extent. However, a good argument can be made for this methodology (in fact those putting together the numbers found it more reasonable to not count 1 person "races" than to count them ): what we want to know is: which party do the voters prefer ? Thus, one does not count "votes" when there is no alternative. Did this hurt the republicans ? Perhaps, but a prima facie case could be made that it hurt the Democrats more. Why ? Obviously, a partisan lean is dominant in a district that does not have a challenger. However, Democratic districts in this situation tend to be more population dense.
Therefore, I am uncertain if any major changes from the conclusions of this diary are warranted from this new research.

But each person can draw his or her own conclusion.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We need to make ALEC membership and domination (13+ / 0-)

    of our state legislatures an on-going and constant refrain and campaign issue.  Each and every day between now and the 2014 election, we need to make voters, newspapers and other localized media aware that as many as one third of our state legislators have decided to represent big business interests over the interests of the citizens who elected them to office.  We need to make ALEC legislation transparent, identiy who introduces and co-sponsors ALEC legislation, which economic interests and corporations who are benefiting by ALEC legislation, and we need to run ALEC member legislators from office by 2014.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:54:29 PM PST

  •  ALEC is the source and disseminator of Voter (8+ / 0-)

    Suppression legislation which has spread like an out of control cancer across our country.  We need to make sure all voters and newspapers in America understand this.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:56:28 PM PST

  •  This goes back to the 50-state strategy plus (7+ / 0-)

    a new level - the 1000 precinct strategy.  That's for us as a movement to figure out - Meetups, DFA-type efforts.  Revolution is a daily effort. 2012 will determine how much legs the most current version of American Progressivism has.

    Howard Dean will always be my president.

    by 4democracy on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:57:41 PM PST

  •  Well said! The state legislators are important in (5+ / 0-)

    their own right, and they are also the field team for the US House and Senate.  

    Electing more state legislators means more grassroots/county Party activity, maybe paired with local Dems who can't get out to meetings but who can give a few hours to work online.

    Save the Home Planet

    by Mayfly on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:58:14 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this diary (5+ / 0-)

    The State legislature is oh oh oh so important. I wonder why there is so little attention to it on this forum.
    Republicans are going to change (I mean destroy) this country, ONE STATE at  a time. And we (progressives) will be wondering what happened to America.
    Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina are coming to WI, OH,MI,NH,PA, NC, ...etc.

    I live in NC and the results of the elections have scared me to death. We now have a Rep. Governor, Republican Legislature and the first things on their agenda are going to take North Carolina to South Carolina level.
    +Voter ID Laws
    +Cuts to Education
    +Off Shore Drilling
    +Tax Cuts to bring cheap jobs to NC
    +Opposing Obamacare
    +Destruction of the safety net.
    Every time I listen to local Right Wing Radio here in NC (We do have plenty of those), It just makes me go ... WOW!!!

    I have been listening to local politics and I don't even have the feeling that the Democrats here even care about it. Some are trying to join Pat McCrory's government (that's the NC Governor).

  •  Vote4 - recheck the numbers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vote4Obamain2012, winsock

    The DKOS member who first posted the same vote totals and linked the same article that you have regarding the total votes for members of the House has subsequently written many comments that the numbers are wrong. From what I have read the numbers that showed a half million more Dem House votes did not count races where there was no opposition and the GOP had significantly more of those than the Dems. You might try to find a new link that replaces "the results" that has a more up to date and accurate vote count.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 02:02:45 PM PST

  •  Citizens need to understand that there is a long (4+ / 0-)

    history of the law being used to deprive individuals of their human and civil right. The respect for law and order, fostered through several decades of propaganda, has obscured this reality. Most people don't think of legislators as law-makers and they don't expect the law to be used to deprive them.  It's always someone else whose rights are going to be restricted.
    And, there's a basis in fact for this perception. There has always been "selective enforcement." When asked to explain it, the agents of law enforcement refer to limited resources and having to make choices. In fact, selective enforcement is a power trip, the key to their autonomy.
    Authoritarian legislators pass restrictive laws in full expectation that they won't be enforced against their own kind. They are scofflaws. They run for public office to undermine government from the inside. Are they dishonest? They make no secret of having no liking for government.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 02:18:46 PM PST

    •  No electoral race in America should go unopposed (5+ / 0-)

      by a Democratic candidate.  No Republican should be given a free pass into any office in America.  We should compete, and compete hard for every office, from local school board, to township trustee, to small county sherrifs, dog catcher, whatever.  We want the Republicans to need to expend resources everywhere there is an office to be had.

      It galls me to see half a dozen offices each general election with unopposed Republican candidates, even in Franklin County, Ohio, where I live, and we have a county that went 61-38 for Obama this year, and we don't fill out candidates for judgeships, even the County Prosecutor in the most important county in Ohio because we have the capitol, Columbus, here, all actions brought against the state government are brought in our Common Pleas Court, and yet, we fielded no candidate.

      Even if the R is very stong, he/she should not go unopposed.  That frees that candidate's war chest and efforts to support other R candidates.  This must stop.

      Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

      by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:59:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it occurs nationwide (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ohiodem1, Mark Mywurtz, hannah

        And in states such as Florida, unopposed candidates do not even appear on the ballot.  They're automatically elected.

        Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

        by winsock on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:15:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Redistricting in NYS (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranton, hannah, Ohiodem1

        When we had redistricting the State Senate was controlled by the Republicons but the Assembly controlled by the Democrats.  Because they couldn't approve lines, this was done by the Courts.  The State Senate did get one win, and that was to create a new District which would make 63 members in the Senate and they would have a majority.  Well, this smacked them in the face when in the Nov 6th election this new seat went to a Democrat.  

        Of course we have other problems, like a candidate running on the Democratic line that said he's going to caucus with the Republican, 4 Democratic State leigislators who say they're now Independents and that they may do the same unless they get what they want.  NY has the most disfunctional State House in the country.  

        We recently had 2 Democratic seats go to Republicans, one when the Democratic State Senator had to resign due to his corruption and the fact that he was going to jail and the other when the Congressman liked Twitting his body.  Both seats were dismanteled and the State Senate seat when to the Democrat that's going to caucus with the Republicans and the Congressional seat was taken over by other districts since we lost 2 seats in the Census.  

        Anyhow, a lot of people don't believe that midterm and down-ballot elections matter and we have to educate them on this.  We also have to educate them on why they vote against their own best interests and find out why they think their Republican Representative is better and won't vote for change.  Additionally, there is absolutely no election in which the Dems should not field a candidate.  Dean was right, put every seat and every office into play and support every seat and every office.

        Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

        by Rosalie907 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:15:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is difficult for citizens to pay attention (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to governmental doing when they are working three jobs just to keep body and soul together. Keeping the populace occupied and wasting their time with standing in lines is part of the strategy of maintaining control. We elect representatives to save time and gain expertise. However, when the stewards prove untrustworthy, they have to be fired expeditiously.
          The political parties, being entrenched organizations with an interest in their own survival and importance, have little incentive to welcome citizen participation on their turf. So, they have to be made aware that, if they want to remain relevant, they need to identify and promote high quality candidates for all offices at every level of government. Letting the chambers of commerce select in the first round is a bad idea because they only represent the middlemen, people who move things around and take a "cut" from the chum.

          We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:22:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm really stunned that this diary isn't getting (4+ / 0-)

    more recs. It's a lot more important and a lot more easily addressed than most of the stuff on the rec list.

    If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

    by MikePhoenix on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:06:35 PM PST

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