Obligatory Rule22 House-Senate Projections

Congressional elections don’t get the same hype as the “Road to 270 Electoral votes.” Regardless, we thought it’d be fun to offer our humble projections for the next Congress. In short, we, like most, think that we’ll have a divided Congress. We see Republicans holding the House and Democrats holding the Senate. No surprises there. In order to take the House, Democrats would not only need to win every toss-up election, but also stage major upsets in at least 11 other districts currently leaning Republican. Pending some sort of enormous miss by multiple polls, we don’t see this happening.

You should keep a keen eye on the Tea Party tonight. If the polls are right, we are looking at a status quo election. In other words, Obama holds the White House, Democrats hold the Senate, and Republicans hold the House. This could translate into another do-nothing Congress. Therefore, the chances that compromise is feasible in the next Congress hinges on the Tea Party caucus in the next House. There will likely be fewer in the 113th than the 112th. However, the Tea Party will still represent a solid voting bloc Republicans will need to maintain a voting majority. With as slim as their numbers may be, it is almost certain that the Tea Party will play a significant role in the next Congress. As it stands now, the chances that we see a very productive 113th Congress are slim to none. The chances the 113th is somewhat productive aren’t that encouraging. In my opinion, those projections only grow dimmer as more Tea Partiers are elected. However, the parties are so far apart right now that it ultimately may not matter.

In the Senate Democrats are likely to retain control. McCaskill’s surge following Akin’s disasterous gaffe certain helped, but we think Democrats made enough gains in MA, VA, WI, and IN to hold onto the majority. Jordan has one more seat for Democrats than I do, which is where you see us hedging our bets that Tester (D-MT) will be ousted/reelected. With 2 Indepedents likely to caucus with Democrats (VT and ME – one definitely, the other probably), Democrats will hold a 6-8 seat vote advantage on strict party line votes.

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About Joshua Huder

http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/huder/
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4 Responses to Obligatory Rule22 House-Senate Projections

  1. Hello,

    I was hoping you could share some insight on supermajorities — their implications, advantages and potential dangers. In California, for example, we are headed toward one and, when recently asked about this topic, I realized that I am completely ignorant.

    If you have the time to respond, I would appreciate it.

    –AM

    • Joshua Huder says:

      Hey Anthony, supermajorities are often considered safeguards in a democratic process. They often slow the process down and make it more difficult to legislate. For example, in a congressional setting supermajorities require more compromise. Forcing legislators to reach 60 votes in a 100 member Senate, as opposed to just 50, to enact policy requires members to compromise with the other party.

      On the other hand, slowing the process in this manner can often lead to gridlock. Generally speaking, the Senate gets FAR less done than the House. Any substantive issue in the Senate is subject to a filibuster these days which requires a supermajority (60 votes) to cut off debate. The problem today is that the parties are so polarized, it is much much more difficult to craft compromise between the two parties. So gaining the extra 6 votes Democrats will need to enact legislation is much more difficult because it is more difficult to gain 6 Republican votes when the parties have so little policy agreement between the two. As a result, compromise often doesn’t happen which leads to nothing. So the drawback is that supermajorities make it so difficult to legislate that nothing in fact gets done.

      I hope that helps. If you’d like more in depth explanation, shoot me an email.

      • Thank you for that detailed response. Does this informatino apply to state legislatures as well?

        Anyway, I look forward to reading some of the other posts on your blog–quite informative.

        Thanks

        –AM

      • Joshua Huder says:

        Yes and no. All state legislatures can draft their own legislative procedures, and therefore, most states have unique processes. As a result, supermajority rules vary across states. For example, many state legislatures (as well as Congress) require supermajorities to overcome vetoes. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature so their supermajority votes do not normally apply to regular debate (from what I can recall) where as others do. Others require supermajorities to pass budgets or tax policy. So it’s really state specific and it varies widely.

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