A new nonpartisan study finds that even if Democrats win the 2014 congressional elections in a landslide similar to the one that saw Republicans gain 63 seats in 2010 — about a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent — Republicans would still maintain control of the House by a 15-seat margin.
This, of course, is the result of Karl Rove’s dampest dream come to life — the gerrymandering that took place after the 2010 elections.
Losing the total popular vote in the House and keeping a majority is rare. But you can expect this to happen every two years through 2020 — because the GOP has planned it that way.
Conservatives bragged about how they’ve successfully subverted the public’s will in a report the “Republican State Leadership Committee” released just after the 2012 election:
“In Ohio, for instance, Republicans won 12 out of 16 House races ‘despite voters casting only 52 percent of their vote for Republican congressional candidates.’ The situation was even more egregious to the north. ‘Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.'”
Carefully crafted districts helped the GOP both keep the House and the state houses in Ohio and Michigan, states President Obama won in 2008 and 2012. In both “swing states,” Tea Party are legislators are blocking Medicaid expansion that their Republican governors have endorsed because they know opposing it could cost them re-election.
And thus again we arrive at the central conflict the Republican Party will face for at least the next decade: They’ve carved safe districts for their party’s extremists, and these extremists make it almost impossible for them to win the Senate or the presidency.
Far-right Republicans in uncontested seats could easily cost the GOP its future as a national party by sabotaging immigration reform in the House. This would continue the trend of the party’s base destroying its national prospects.
You probably know about Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Ken Buck, Todd Akin, Denny Rehberg and Richard Mourdock — six of the extreme Senate candidates who almost seemed like a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to help the Democrats maintain control of the Senate. And you’ve probably heard of Steve King (R-IA), the congressman who casually compared immigrants to dogs and now wants to help Democrats keep the seat Tom Harkin (D-IA) is giving up after this term.
But unless you live in Michigan or are a fan of Republican congresspeople who love to make Speaker John Boehner’s life miserable, you’ve probably not heard of Justin Amash (R-MI).
Amash is sometimes called the “new Ron Paul,” which means he thinks that Paul Ryan (R-WI) puts out budgets that are too generous because they pretend to keep Medicare in place.
Amash’s unpredictability hasn’t just alienated Republican leadership. He also lost support of a pro-life group in his re-election for refusing to vote to defund Planned Parenthood because he doesn’t believe in legislation that targets specific groups.
The congressman recently opposed the “cybersecurity” bill known as CISPA that passed the House with a huge majority of Republicans supporting it. CISPA’s chief advocate, Mike Rogers (R-MI), is the Republican establishment’s choice to run for the U.S. Senate seat Carl Levin (D-MI) is relinquishing after this term is up — a race that Amash has said he may also join.
So what does the old Ron Paul think about the new Ron Paul running for Senate?
According to the National Journal, “Amash is being pressured by Ron and Rand Paul to stay out of the Senate race. Amash, the thinking goes, would be better served as the chief libertarian voice in the lower chamber, rather than risking his young career on a statewide race in which the Democratic nominee would likely be favored.”
Ron and Rand think Amash is “more valuable to them as an asset in the House than as a candidate for Senate.”
Ron Paul didn’t have such concerns when he endorsed Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. Probably because Republicans know they’re probably going to win Georgia, even if they nominate a candidate who has called evolution, the big bang and climate change “lies from the pit of hell.”
Even the Pauls — who are often thought of as the fringe of the party — think Amash can’t win a state like Michigan, where Obama won by more than nine percent. And their concern likely isn’t that Amash can be branded as a candidate who would get rid of Medicare and Social Security as we know them — both Pauls favor that. Their concern is that he’s too out of control to win a whole blue state.
Amash — who often goes on Twitter to vent — bragged about the National Journal article:
Things political class Republicans don’t like:liberty, the Constitution, Justin Amash nationaljournal.com/blogs/hotlineo…
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) April 25, 2013
Either he’s lumping the Pauls into the “political class” or he’s just ignoring that even hardcore Tea Partiers know he isn’t ready for primetime — exactly the kind of argument you’ll hear from the establishment when Rand Paul’s presidential campaign picks up steam.
Amash, Broun and King each epitomize an aspect of the GOP that makes it impossible for them to win non-red states — cruel laissez faire libertarianism, calcified social conservatism and callous disregard for anyone who isn’t a white male.
And even the Pauls recognize that unless Republicans find some way to obscure the things that make them unelectable in the elections they need to win the most, the GOP may just keep gerrymandering itself to death.
Update: The post originally stated incorrectly that the last time a party lost the total popular vote in the House and kept the majority was in 1972. It happened in 1996 and three other times in the last century.