Americans woke up on November 7 having elected a Democratic president, expanded the Democratic majority in the Senate, and preserved the Republican majority in the House. That’s not what they voted for, though.
Most Americans voted for Democratic representation in the House. The votes are still being counted, but as of now it looks as if Democrats have a slight edge in the popular vote for House seats, 49 percent-48.2 percent, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Still, as the Post‘s Aaron Blake notes, the 233-195 seat majority the GOP will likely end up with represents the GOP’s “second-biggest House majority in 60 years and their third-biggest since the Great Depression.”
Republicans took advantage of their majority status in some states to redistrict for both state and U.S. legislatures, redrawing the lines in their favor. So even though Democratic candidates for the House garnered the most actual votes (popular vote), Republicans have taken super majorities in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
After Republicans swept into power in state legislatures in 2010, the GOP gerrymandered key states, redrawing House district boundaries to favor Republicans. In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates received half of the votes in House contests, but Republicans will claim about three-quarters of the congressional seats.
If this seems familiar, it’s because Missouri Republicans did the same thing here, effectively taking Russ Carnahan out of the game and leaving us one Democratic representative short. The GOP’s “win by any means, at any cost” behavior is the antithesis of democracy, but by all accounts that won’t stop them from stepping all over it in their attempt to gain and retain power.
Leave it to the Republicans to have a back-up plan in case their voter suppression efforts didn’t pay off with election victories in November. Beware all you states with GOP majorities: once they are installed in office, they will have to be dragged from it kicking and screaming. We will have Republican “leadership” (read: obstruction) whether we vote for it or not.
Stacy Mergenthal is an activist for progressive causes and voice for the working class. She currently resides in Missouri with her family.