Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Breaking Down the 2014 Election by CD

In Election Analysis, House on November 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. The PRIsm Political Update will return on Monday, Dec. 1. Don’t eat too much!!

Cross Districts

The 2014 election increased the universe of federal “cross-districts”.

In the 2012 presidential election, voters in 411 congressional districts uniformly chose a US House member of the same party as they supported for president. This means only 24 CDs elected a representative belonging to the opposite party of the candidate they backed for the nation’s top office. In 2012, 16 districts elected a Republican representative while simultaneously supporting President Obama; conversely, eight CDs chose a Democratic congressman while voting for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In 2014, we see a slightly different pattern. The total number of cross-districts rose to 31, but 404 still elected a House member consistent with the party of their previously chosen presidential candidate. Twenty-six of those CDs elected a Republican House member earlier this month, even though those casting ballots supported President Obama two years earlier. Voters in only five incoming House districts backed Romney in 2012, but elected a Democratic Representative in the current election; two of them are new to the list – Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) defeating Rep. Steve Southerland (R), and Brad Ashford (D-NE-2) upsetting Rep. Lee Terry (R). The three holdover districts are AZ-1 (Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick); FL-18 (Rep. Patrick Murphy); and MN-7 (Rep. Collin Peterson).

Seven districts returned to a normal voting pattern. The total includes Martha McSally’s (R) lead over Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2). If she survives the Arizona recount process, then this Tucson-anchored CD, which supported Mitt Romney, will return to the Republican congressional fold. Same for Republican Rick Allen who defeated Rep. John Barrow (D) in GA-12; David Rouzer (R) claiming NC-7; Will Hurd (R) winning TX-23; Mia Love (R) taking UT-4; and Evan Jenkins (R) upsetting 19-term incumbent Nick Rahall in WV-3. Pete Aguilar is the lone Democrat to return an Obama district back to his party, winning San Bernardino County’s open CA-31 district.

A total of 28 states that have more than one congressional district (seven are at-large states) witnessed uniform votes for House and president in every CD. The largest such states are Texas (36 Districts), Ohio (16), Michigan (14), Georgia (14) and North Carolina (13). Fifteen multi-district states have at least one cross-district. Nevada and Minnesota have the largest percentage of opposite districts within their delegations. Nevada now features two such seats: NV-3, Rep. Joe Heck (R), and NV-4, Rep-Elect Cresent Hardy (R). Minnesota has three of their eight in this category: MN-2, Rep. John Kline (R), MN-3, (Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) and MN-7, Rep. Collin Peterson (D).

Possibly the most 2016 endangered incumbents are the members who hold the seats that most strongly bend toward one party in the presidential contest before jumping to the other party in the House. The strongest Democratic presidential seats that elected a Republican are IL-10, Rep. Bob Dold (R) – 57.5 percent Obama; NY-24, Rep-Elect John Katko (R) – 57.0 percent Obama; and IA-1, Rep-Elect Rod Blum (R) – 56.2 percent Obama. The strongest Republican presidential districts to elect a Democratic House member are MN-7, Rep. Collin Peterson (D) – 53.9 percent Romney; NE-2, Rep-Elect Brad Ashford (D) – 52.9 percent Romney; and FL-2, Rep-Elect Gwen Graham (D) – 52.3 percent Romney.

Of the 31 new and holdover cross-districts, 19 remained in the hands of the opposite party at the congressional level, while another 19 of the current and previous cross-districts (those from 2012) switched. Seven of the latter 19 realigned with their presidential party. Of the 12 who evolved into cross-districts earlier this month, 10 were Obama seats that went Republican, and two were Romney districts that voted for a Democratic House member.

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