Monopoly Politics

FairVote's Monopoly Politics report series presents in-depth analysis of U.S. House elections and the structural origins of the polarization, partisan bias, and striking lack of competition that plague Congressional politics. The report also lays out a detailed national reform plan to illustrate how adoption of the RCV Act would address these problems and empower all voters to have their voices heard on Election Day.

Accompanying the report are projections for 2014 and 2016 U.S. House races made at least a year before election day, illustrating the consistent absence of meaningful competition in nearly all districts.

Representation and Competition

The following interactive map presents a wealth of data on representation and competition from the 2014 Monopoly Politics report.

Click on a topic to begin.

House Elections are Broken

  • Elections are not competitive. More than 80% of U.S. House districts are completely safe for the party that holds them, and only 5% will be true toss-ups in 2016. As a result, millions of Americans are perpetually represented by politicians they oppose, with little hope of changing things at the polls.

  • Outcomes are distorted. We project that in 2018, Democrats would need to win the national vote by more than 5 percentage points just to earn a one-seat majority. Many state delegations are even more skewed, as in Massachusetts, which elects 9 Democrats and 0 Republicans, even though 40% of its voters prefer the GOP.
  • Representatives are more polarized than voters. Voters in general elections must choose between polarized candidates selected by highly partisan primary voters, leaving moderate Americans without a route to representation.
  • For a national overview of these problems see out Monopoly Politics 2018 fact sheet. 

The RCV Act Offers a Solution

  • Meaningful elections. By electing candidates proportionally from multi-winner "super districts" with three to five seats, the RCV Act would result in nearly all Americans being represented by both Republicans and Democrats. And, many of the critical intra-party decisions now made in primaries would be shifted to the general election, when far more voters participate.
  • Accurate Representation. Because election results under the RCV Act would be proportional within each district, the skewed outcomes of our current system would be made a thing of the past. Voters that are now shut-out, like Republicans in Massachusetts or Democrats in Oklahoma, would win their fair share of representation. Within states and across the country, the number of seats earned by each party would align far more closely to their share of the vote.
  • A fair shot for moderates and independents. With proportional outcomes and a wider variety of candidates advancing to the general election, the RCV Act would reduce the outsized influence of partisan primary voters, and empower the far larger and more representative electorate that participates in general elections. Like other groups, moderates would be empowered by the RCV Act to win their fair share of representation.

2018 Projections (released February 21, 2017):  View Online

Since 1997, FairVote has released projections for U.S. House elections using a model that relies only on previous election results. These projections have been remarkably accurate. Months before the 2016 election, we projected outcomes in 361 U.S. House races, and were correct in all 361. Four months after the 2016 election, we make high confidence projections for the 2018 U.S. House election in 368 races, and expect a similar level of success.

Our 2018 projections reveal:

  • 367 truly safe U.S. House districts, which represent more than 82 percent of all House seats.
  • 23 "toss-up" districts,  representing only six percent of House seats.
  • Because of the structural advantages enjoyed by Republicans, we project that if all seats were open and voters nationally were split 50% - 50% between Republicans and Democrats, Republicans would still win 237 seats to Democrats 198. Accounting for incumbency, we project 244 seats for Republicans and 191 for Democrats, a net loss of three seats for the Democratic party. 
  • Even if as many as 55% of U.S. voters preferred a Democratic House to a Republican one, Republicans would still likely retain control of the body. Democrats would need a little more than 55.4% of the National Party Preference to reach 218 seats, the narrowest of majorities. 

While the model’s accuracy could likely be improved by incorporating data from public opinion polls, on the candidates, or on their campaigns, the accuracy of our projections in the absence of such information illustrates an important truth about elections under our current system: In the vast majority of cases, the particulars of candidates and campaigns have little impact on the end result. Uncompetitive races mean that outcomes are essentially predetermined, leaving voters without meaningful choices or a compelling reason to go to the polls.

The full projections can be found in the spreadsheets linked above. Users also can also use these sheets to make their own projections, by adjusting the values for the national preference between the major parties (we use a 50-50 projection), and the average advantage earned by incumbents (we give an average "incumbency bump" of 3.2%).

Monopoly Politics 2016 can be downloaded here

Our interactive spreadsheet is available here.

Follow the links below for previous editions of the Monopoly Politics report. While the projection methodology has been refined over the years, it has remained remarkably accurate since its inception, with near perfect accuracy in the 75% to 85% of House races projected in each election.

The projections are based on the innovative "district partisanship" metric introduced in the first Monopoly Politics report in 1997. District partisanship measures the partisan lean of each congressional district by comparing their vote in the most recent presidential election to the national result.

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