House Update: Democrats Stuck in Neutral

Democrat Ron Barber will replace his old boss, Gabrielle Giffords, in the House after winning a special election Tuesday night, 52% to 45%, over Republican Jesse Kelly. The race appeared to be neck-and-neck, and Kelly narrowly won more votes cast on Election Day. But Barber built his winning margin in...

Notes on the State of Politics: Recapping Wisconsin

Walker’s Wisconsin win not necessarily a harbinger As soon as the recall of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was finalized in mid-March, the Crystal Ball made Walker a favorite, giving the race a rating of leans Republican. We upgraded his chances roughly two weeks ago to likely Republican, and he ended...

House Update: Democrats California Dreamin’

Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman (both California Democrats) were put in the same district in redistricting, and they are locked in a knock-down, drag-out intraparty fight. But it's possible that the upcoming primary is only a prelude to their real battle in November. That's because the Golden State now...

Democrats’ House Hopes Could Run Aground in Great Lakes

During the War of 1812, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry whipped the British in the famous Battle of Lake Erie. Nearly 200 years later, winning Lake Erie won't suffice for Democrats seeking to reclaim the House; they need to win on the shores of all five Great Lakes. Now that decennial...

Notes on the State of Politics

So much for that anti-incumbent wave Last week’s primary loss by Rep. Jean Schmidt, a southwest Ohio Republican, ginned up curiosity in Tuesday night’s congressional primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, where several House incumbents were supposedly in danger of losing their primaries. That list included powerful House Financial Services Committee...

Happy Trails: The Muted Effect of House Retirements

Generally speaking, if members of the U.S. House of Representatives want to keep their seats, voters are happy to oblige: since the end of World War II, the lowest reelection rate for incumbent House members was 79.3% in 1948, which was a huge Democratic wave year. But those figures don’t...

Voter disgust: What might it mean for the House race?

We here at the Crystal Ball, and of course our readers, love politics. But Americans don’t, especially now: Congress is historically unpopular, and Americans are so sick of politics that more than two-thirds of them according to one survey wished the presidential campaign was over even before it officially started....

Why the Courts Punt on Gerrymandering

CHICAGO -- It was predictable that Illinois Republicans would be outraged by the state’s new congressional district map, which the Democrats who control the redistricting levers in Springfield inflicted on them this summer. They were so angry, in fact, that they sued in federal district court to try to get...

The Anti-Incumbent Election Myth

Or why you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a "triple flip" election

Congress is very unpopular. In November, according to the Gallup Poll, only 13% of Americans approved of the job that Congress was doing. That tied the record set in October for the lowest approval rating in the history of the Gallup Poll. Moreover, according to another recent Gallup Poll, only...

Fortress Blue, Fortress Red

The partisan bedrock of the new House

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said that "There is nothing I love as much as a good fight." If so, he would’ve hated where the House is headed for the next decade, because by and large it likely won’t have all that many good fights. Instead of looking at the House...

DEMOCRATS’ HOUSE HOPES HINGE ON OBAMA

Just a day before Election Day, the painful reality hit home for Jimmy Carter: He was toast. As recalled in Dominic Sandbrook’s excellent history of the late 1970s, Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right, President Carter’s chances for a second term...

New York’s Ninth District and Obama’s Orthodox Jewish Problem

The results of last week’s special election in New York’s heavily Jewish Ninth Congressional District are being widely interpreted as signaling both problems for Democrats in the 2012 congressional elections and a major erosion of support for President Obama among Jewish voters. The special election, which was caused by the...