GOP House gains historic

There are still 10 that, as of Thursday morning, are too close to call.  Of the races that have been decided, Republicans lead 243 to 179 for a net gain so far of 13.  David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report believes that Republicans will pick up at least 3 of those seats for a gain of 16.

By any stretch of the imagination, that's a wave.

Prior to the election, most observers pegged possible GOP gains in a range between 5 and 12.  They've already exceeded that and are hungry for more.

Potentially, Republicans could pick up 19 seats – including some Democratic seats that were considered safe before the polls opened on Tuesday.  So what happened?

Plain and simple, the story in House races was an epic turnout collapse and motivational deficit. Democrats' surprisingly large losses are attributable to "orphan states" where there was little enthusiasm for top-of-the-ticket Democrats. For example, in New York, the lack of a competitive statewide race caused Democratic turnout to plummet, and Reps. Tim Bishop (NY-01) and Dan Maffei (NY-24) suffered surprisingly wide defeats.

Even Rep. Louise Slaughter's normally safe Rochester seat (NY-25), which neither party had on their radar screen appears headed for a recount. In Maryland, where Republican Larry Hogan pulled off an upset in the gubernatorial race, Democratic Rep. John Delaney (MD-06) appears to have barely hung on. And in Iowa, the final insult to Democrats was the loss of failed Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley's 1st CD.

The overwhelming share of Democratic incumbents in the Toss Up column lost, including Reps. Joe Garcia (FL-26), John Barrow (GA-12), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Bill Enyart (IL-12), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), Tim Bishop (NY-01), Dan Maffei (NY-24) and Nick Rahall (WV-03). With Barrow's defeat, there will no longer be a single white Democrat holding a House seat in the Deep South. And with Rahall's defeat, Democrats no longer hold any seats in coal country.

Republican gains even reached into the Lean Democratic column, where the GOP captured Maine's open 2nd CD and defeated Reps. Steven Horsford (NV-04) and Pete Gallego (TX-23). Abysmal Hispanic turnout cost Democrats both TX-23 and NV-04, where raw votes appear to have fallen from 2010. And in California, the virtually non-existed Hispanic turnout nearly caught Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and Jim Costa (CA-21) by surprise.

Just about the only places Democrats survived were races where the DCCC and its allies were able to take advantage of very flawed GOP incumbents or candidates. Gaffe-prone GOP Reps. Steve Southerland (FL-02) and Lee Terry (NE-02) appear headed for narrow defeats, while the DCCC seems to have defined GOP candidates Andy Tobin (AZ-01) and Stewart Mills (MN-08) as sufficiently out of touch to allow Democrats to barely hang on.

What motivated Republicans to go to the polls was simple: anti-Obama rage.  And in states where there were no sexy statewide contests, that meant that a tsunami rolled over dozens of Democrats at every level.

It's probable that several of these GOP freshmen will not become sophomores.  In 2016, they will be running in heavily Democratic districts with far better turnout of Democratic-friendly voters.  But if they're smart, they will ratchet up constituent services, keep their noses to the grindstone, stay in frequent contact with the voters, and stay out of trouble.  That's a template that worked for some Democrats who won in red districts in the 2008 Democratic wave and have kept their seats since.

A truly historic night for Republicans.


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