Thanks to gerrymandering and the advantages they’ve used it to build, the Republican House majority can withstand a significant nationwide Democratic popular vote win in November. But, the New York Times’s Nate Cohn suggests, the Republican structural advantage isn’t as robust as it once was:
By this measure, the Republican advantage has probably dropped by about two percentage points since 2014, when Republicans won the party’s largest House majority since 1929.
Since then, four court rulings have softened or even torn up Republican gerrymanders in four big states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and most recently Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court struck down the congressional map last month.
The decisions in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia have already cost the Republicans a net of three House seats while generally eroding their position elsewhere in those states, giving Democrats better opportunities in 2018.
Nearly three dozen Republican retirements this cycle, too, could help Democrats:
Over all, the number of G.O.P. retirements in plausibly competitive districts isn’t extraordinarily high. But some of the Republican retirements have been especially damaging: longtime incumbents who have a tradition of running far ahead of the national party and dissuading strong challengers, like New Jersey’s Frank LoBiondo or Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent. Their retirements could easily be the difference between a non-competitive race and a Democratic victory.
Make no mistake, Republicans still have a big advantage—Democrats could still get many more votes than Republicans without retaking the House. But Democrats are going into these midterm elections with momentum and a motivated base, while Republicans are going into it with an unpopular president and a raft of retirements. It’s time to fight for it.
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