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Despite gerrymandering, Nov. 6 House outcome reflects overall split in U.S. votes

The results of the 2018 elections for the U.S. House seem to have almost perfectly mirrored the division of the national popular vote between the two major parties.

photo of a single voting booth
REUTERS/Darren Hauck
The results of the 2018 elections for the U.S. House seem to have almost perfectly mirrored the division of the national popular vote between the two major parties.
Gerrymandering is one of the ugly realities of U.S. politics. And most recent coverage has suggested that Republicans were aggressively employing their control of the power to draw district boundaries in many states to give an advantage to their candidates in races for the U.S. House. The courts have pushed back, and some of the most blatant cases of attempted gerrymandering have been overturned. Personally, I favor pretty much any measure that is designed to minimize the power of the party in control to use that control to advantage itself in the drawing of the boundaries.

But, gerrymandering notwithstanding, the results of the 2018 elections for the U.S. House seem to have almost perfectly mirrored the division of the national popular vote between the two major parties.

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In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats received 53.1 percent of the total popular vote in all 435 U.S. House elections combined, and ended up with 53.5 percent of the seats in the U.S. House. There are two seats in which counting and verifying is still occurring. Republicans are ahead in both, but by margins so small that the outcomes are not final.

Still, however those last two turn out, the overall results will suggest that gerrymandering failed to alter the most important outcome, namely that the party that got the most votes got the majority of the seats, and in numbers commensurate with the number of votes that party received nationwide.

In fact, I looked back at the five previous House elections and found that in all five cases, the party that got the most overall votes won the majority of the seats. Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that gerrymandering is benign or OK. It’s disgraceful. But I’m happy to learn that it hasn’t resulted in the “wrong” party controlling the people’s House, at least going back to 2008.