Monopoly Politics

FairVote's biennial report Monopoly Politics presents an 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. Accompanying the 2018 report are projections for the 2018 U.S. House races made more than a year before Election Day, illustrating the consistent absence of meaningful competition in nearly all districts.

In preparation for Monopoly Politics 2020, FairVote is piloting a new format for our Monopoly Politics Spreadsheet as well as a new interactive map. Preview these changes by clicking the links above. 

The following interactive map presents a wealth of data on representation and competition from the 2014 Monopoly Politics report. For more up-to-date data, see the tabs below.

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 a small fraction will be true toss-ups in 2018. 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 are only likely to win the House if more than 55% of voters want a Democratic House. Many state delegations are even more skewed, as in Massachusetts, which elects 9 Democrats and 0 Republicans, even though nearly 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 less partisan Americans without a route to 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. Looking to 2018, we make high confidence projections for the 2018 U.S. House election in 378 races, and expect a similar level of success. Our projections were last updated for retirements on January 10, 2018.

Our 2018 projections reveal:

  • 344 truly safe U.S. House districts, where partisanship is outside the range where both parties can compete, and which represent more than 79 percent of all House seats.
  • 45 "toss-up" districts, with partisanship indicating that each party has roughly an even chance, representing barely ten 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 would project 242 seats for Republicans and 193 for Democrats in a 50-50 year, a net loss of five seats for the Democratic party. When incumbents retire, we swap the open seat projection for their district with their incumbent projection. 
  • Even if as many as 54% of U.S. voters preferred a Democratic House to a Republican one, Republicans would still likely retain control of the body. Democrats would need more than 54.8% 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 3.3%).

Monopoly Politics 2018 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 that can be projected with high confidence 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 how each major party presidential candidate performed in the district relative to how they performed in the national popular vote.

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