Republicans could make gains in the House of Representatives

United States Capitol

Riding the strength of the Tea Party movement and voter angst, Republicans won 62 seats in the 2010 mid-term election, taking control of the House in an election that was viewed as a referendum on the first-half of President Barack Obama’s term. And even though it looks like they will fail to take control of the Senate this year, Aaron Blake, who writes at The Fix over at the Washington Post, reports that Republicans may actually increase their already sizeable majority in the House of Representatives:

The Fix now projects that the 2012 race for the House is likely to be close to a draw, and there is even a fair chance that Republicans will add to their biggest majority in six decades on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, as Mitt Romney has gained a few points in the presidential race, a similar but slight shift has been happening at the House level: The generic ballot has tightened.

While Democrats had built a modest advantage on the generic ballot (a measure of whether people prefer a generic Republican or a generic Democrat) when President Obama built some momentum in September, that advantage is basically gone now.

In part because of this, Democrats have seen their candidates in conservative-leaning districts suffer. Friday, we are moving several red-district Democrats into more vulnerable ratings, including Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.).

And because those seats have shifted, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that Democrats will gain seats this year.

In fact, right now, The Fix projects that Republicans have 228 seats either solidly in their favor or leaning toward them, while Democrats have 184. Another 23 seats are tossups.

If Republicans can win 14 of those 23 tossup races, they would keep their majority exactly as it is. If they win more than that, they would actually gain seats.

Politico covered this yesterday, though they looked at it from the angle of House Democrats, noting that they “are expected to pick up five seats at best.” Politico also touched on the issues that have plagued House Democrats, ranging from the fact that Obama won’t have the coattail effect that he had in 2008 to Medicare not being near the issue that that they thought it would be.

We took a look at this last week, noting that the status quo in Congress would likely be maintained. The possibility of gains to their majority can be explained by Republicans winning 680 seats in state legislatures in 2010. This gave them an advantage in the redistricting process.

Some may question how Republicans could gain seats in the House, but lose the presidential election. As former Speaker Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local.” There will certainly be districts where a candidate will ride the coattails of the party’s nominee, but there will be plenty of Republicans in blue-leaning districts who will win on Tuesday. And that will certainly go the other way as well.

Also, with the gains made by Republicans in state legislatures in 2010, the building on their majority in the House was engineered. So even though Mitt Romney may lose the presidential election, this is why Republicans could still gain seats and, perhaps, send ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi into a back-bench role in the Democratic caucus.

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