The cover story in this week’s edition of The Economist examines the built-in bias in American democracy, in the form of a longer analysis piece and an editorial. In the editorial, the editors note Republicans hold both houses of Congress and the White House, despite the fact that in the three elections in 2010-16, their candidates received just 46 percent of the two-party vote for the Senate. The GOP won the presidential vote in 2016 with 49 percent.
The magazine’s voting model predicts that for Democrats to have a better than 50 percent chance of winning control of the House in November, they will need to win the popular vote by approximately seven percentage points. FairVote’s model finds similar projections: as we reported previously, Democrats only win a one-seat majority under our Monopoly Politics model when the national two-party preference exceeds 54 percent.
The editors write the bias “is a dangerous new twist in the tribalism and political dysfunction that is poisoning politics in Washington,” and it’s deepening.
As they consider remedies, the editors express second thoughts about first-past-the-post winners of congressional elections, and suggest a bill in Congress to be used nationwide (The Fair Representation Act, which includes ranked choice voting, multi-member districts and redistricting with nonpartisan, citizen commissions) as a way forward.
“The aim should be to give office-seekers a reason to build bridges with opponents rather than torch them. If partisanship declined as a result, so would pressure on voters to stick to their tribe. That could make both parties competitive in rural and urban areas again, helping to restore majority rule.”