FairVote: the Center for Voting and Democracy, a Maryland-based nonprofit analyzing elections and advocating electoral reform, correctly projected 100% of 333 congressional races more than three months before Election Day. In FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012 report - available online in an interactive map - FairVote makes projections solely on the basis of district partisanship, the length of an incumbent’s tenure in Congress and the incumbent’s margin of victory in 2010.
Our report illustrates how no great forecasting talent or luck is needed to correctly predict more than three out of four congressional races. Predictions are easily made due to the United States’ politically polarized congressional map, which is caused by the winner-take-all electoral system and exacerbated by partisan gerrymandering. Congressional races lack healthy competition.
Underscoring the power of partisanship, in the 2010 elections 40 of the 52 seats in which Republicans beat a Democratic incumbent were in districts in which Barack Obama underperformed his national average in 2008. At the same time, Republicans that year failed to defeat a single one of the 139 Democratic incumbents running in a district where Barack Obama outperformed his national average by more than 4%.
In the 2012 elections, all eight Republican incumbents from a district in which Obama outperformed his national average in 2008 by more than 2% (excepting Gary Miller, who did not face a Democratic challenger due to running against another Republican in a Top Two race) were defeated. Miller now will be the only Republican representing one of these 177 districts. No Democratic incumbent was defeated in a district where Obama in 2008 outperformed his national average.
"In the vast majority of congressional districts," said FairVote's executive director Rob Richie, "casting a ballot is essentially a symbolic gesture. The outcome of these elections is predetermined by the partisanship of districts."
FairVote proposes structural reform of winner-take-all elections as the necessary step to allow all voters to participate meaningfully in every congressional election. FairVote’s Fair Voting 2012 report illustrates how these reforms can be accomplished by a mere statutory change, grounded in our own electoral traditions of using multi-seat "super district" elections with American forms of proportional representation.
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