The day after the election last month, ThinkProgress took a preliminary tally of the total number of votes cast for candidates for the House of Representatives. We found that, despite the fact that Republicans won a commanding majority of the seats, the American people cast more than half-a-million votes for Democrats. This number was based on early tallies, however, and it was especially likely to undercount many West Coast states that had less time to count ballots.
More than a month after the election, the Democrats’ popular vote lead expanded significantly. Based on current tallies, Democrats now lead Republicans 59,343,447 to 58,178,393 in total votes cast for their House candidates — meaning that the American people preferred Democrats over Republicans by nearly a full percentage point of the total vote. Yet, despite clearly losing the popular vote, Republicans will control nearly 54 percent of the seats in the House in the 113th Congress.
This disparity between the will of the American people and the actual outcome of the election did not happen by accident — it is largely the product of massive gerrymandering by Republican state officials. President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points, but Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats. Obama won Virginia, and Democrats took 3 of 11 House seats. Obama won Ohio, but Democrats carried only 4 of 16 seats in Ohio’s House delegation. In state after state after state, Republicans used their unconstitutional ability to gerrymander Democratic votes into meaninglessness — and they were able to do so because the conservatives on the Supreme Court refuse to do anything about it.
In just a few weeks, a misguided package of spending cuts and middle class tax hikes threatens to drag America back into recession. Just over a month after that, America risks defaulting on its debt — potentially plunging us into depression. And even if these immediate threats are averted, it could come at a very high price. In an attempt to strike a deal with recalcitrant Republicans, President Obama recently offered to take future Social Security benefits away from seniors. Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner can’t even manage the right flank of his caucus enough to hold a purely cosmetic vote intended to counter the — now entirely justified — view that Republicans care primarily about protecting millionaires from paying taxes. Because of the Republican Party’s apparently inability to negotiate in good faith in order to avert catastrophe, America now faces the very real possibility of an economic collapse once the debt ceiling comes due early next year.
All of these risks would evaporate completely if the divided 113th Congress bore any resemblance to the unified government the American people voted for.