This will surprise no-one: Democrats win all U.S. House Seats in Massachusetts

Posted by Haley Smith on November 08, 2016

Ho, hum. Early U.S House results are in for Massachusetts.

Unsurprisingly, it looks like tonight’s election has extended the Democrats’ two-decade monopoly over Massachusetts' nine Congressional seats for another cycle. The last time a Republican won a Massachusetts U.S. House seat was in 1994.

U.S. House seats in Massachusetts are so uncompetitive that in more than half of seats (five of nine, in CD-1, CD-2, CD-5, CD-6, and CD-7) Republicans did not nominate a challenger. For instance, Richard Neal was one of the five incumbents who faced no major party competition. First elected in 1988, Neal has only faced a Republican challenger once since 1998 (in 2010, in which the Republican challenger won 42.6% of the vote). In Massachusetts’ other congressional districts, similar stories of uncontested incumbents cruising to victory abound.

Democrats may dominate U.S. House elections, but does that mean Bay Staters are all Democrats? Early results show Trump at 38% of the vote, Romney received 38% of the vote share in 2012, and about 40% of the state’s voters lean Republican. The choropleth map below shows the percent of Republican registered voters by county (in color) and congressional district boundaries. From the map it is clear that there are significant numbers of Republican Bay Staters. 

MassachusettsMonopolyMap.png 

Not only are there many registered Republicans in Massachusetts, Republican candidates often win statewide races. The current Governor of Massachusetts is Republican (Charlie Baker). And, of course, Mitt Romney was elected governor in 2002. Scott Brown (R) won the special election for U.S. Senator in 2010, and Republican candidates earned over 45% of the vote share in the 2014 race for state Treasurer and in the 2012 race for Auditor.

Massachusetts is not alone in shutting out a large portion of its population for U.S. House representation. It is one of ten states in which, in the lead up to this election, one party held a monopoly of U.S. House seats, even though there were sizeable communities of supporters of the other party.  Of those 10 states, Massachusetts is by far the most populous (with 9 U.S. House seats), and has the largest community of minority party supporters (40%) who are shut out from representation. But Democrats in Oklahoma, Republicans in Connecticut and Democrats in Kansas all face the same predicament: a lack of representation in the U.S. House. 

States with Complete Party Monopolies in the U.S. House of Representatives as of 11/7/2016

State Name

Number of Seats

Controlling Party

Length of Control

State Partisanship (%DEM)

Arkansas

4

GOP

2012-Present

36%

Connecticut

5

DEM

2008-Present

57%

Hawaii

2

DEM

2010-Present

70%

Idaho

2

GOP

2010-Present

32%

Kansas

4

GOP

2010-Present

37%

Massachusetts

9

DEM

1996-Present

60%

Oklahoma

5

GOP

2012-Present

32%

Rhode Island

2

DEM

1994-Present

62%

Utah

4

GOP

2014-Present

24%

West Virginia

3

GOP

2014-Present

35%

Source: Ballotpedia

Fortunately, there are avenues to make the Massachusetts congressional delegation more reflective with the partisan affiliation of voters. Within the current system, we could adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) so that there are more options for voters on the ballot (and fewer uncontested elections). We could also consider reforms like Top Four, which would create more choice for general election voters. For more information on these and other fair voting solutions, visit FairVote’s website and check out our Monopoly Politics report

 

 

 

 

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