Was 2014 a Republican "Wave" in the House?

Posted by Nathan Nicholson on November 06, 2014
Republican candidates for U.S. House substantially outperformed Democrats nationwide on Tuesday on their way to a historic GOP majority: the AP's current count has Republicans carrying 52.5% of the national popular House vote to Democrats' 44.5%. However, these raw popular vote counts are skewed by uncontested races, differences in turnout across districts and ballots being still being counted in Democratic-leaning states like California.

FairVote's Monopoly Politics U.S. House projection model measures nationwide partisan sentiment more accurately by comparing winning candidates' two-party margin of victory to the underlying partisan landscape of their districts, as determined by districts' presidential vote in 2012 compared to the nationwide presidential vote. This metric lets us look at how heavily the country as a whole leaned Democratic or Republican relative to a uniform baseline.

This year, the underlying preference of House election voters was 52.05% for Republicans to 47.95% for Democrats - nearly an exact mirror of the  2012 advantage for Democrats. Take a look at the swings in national two-party preference in the House in each election since 1996 (values above 50% indicate Democratic lean):


Republican's 52.05% advantage this year is well in line with historic norms and represents a meaningful but relatively modest nationwide lean. For context, in the Republican wave year of 2010, the national two-party preference was 53.8% Republican, while the 2008 Democratic wave was borne out of a national two-party preference of for Democrats of 54.0%.

Stay tuned for more on FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2016 analyses and their implications for American elections.

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