When did last a party win the House with minority of votes?





For one party to win a majority of House seats with a minority of votes is a relatively rare occurrence. It has now happened five times in the past hundred years. In 1914 and 1942, the Democrats were the beneficiaries. In 1952, 1996, and this year, it was the Republicans’ turn to get lucky, and their luck is likely to hold for many election cycles to come. Gerrymandering routinely gets blamed for such mismatches, but that’s only part of the story. Far more important than redistricting is just plain districting: because so many Democrats are city folk, large numbers of Democratic votes pile up redundantly in overwhelmingly one-sided districts. Even having district lines drawn by neutral commissions instead of by self-serving politicians wouldn’t do much to alter this built-in structural bias. Of course, the perversities of our peculiar electoral machinery can cut both ways. Before November 6th, there was much speculation that Obama, like Bush in 2000, might lose the popular vote while winning in the electoral college. It didn’t happen, but the speculation was far from idle. If Romney had run more strongly throughout the country, he might have beaten Obama by as many as two million votes and still have lost the Presidency.

Even so, the reëlection of a Republican House was no more a repudiation of, for example, levying modestly higher taxes on the highest incomes than was the reëlection of the President or the strengthening of the Democratic majority in the Senate. “You know what? It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,” William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, a kind of Human Events for non-dummies, mused the other day on Fox News, of all places. Similar heresies are beginning to be whispered on Capitol Hill. But, given the track record of the past four years, it would be unwise to bet the farm on the proposition that the G.O.P. will edge away from nihilist obstructionism anytime soon. Stage 5, “Acceptance,” is still a few Republicans shy of a quorum....



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