Heartening as last night’s big sweep was, the volume of change in House seats was actually rather modest compared to the swing in public opinion and underlying voting behavior. The cause, in no small part, was pro-Republican gerrymandering. As you’ll recall, the CW a few months ago was that Democratic recapture of the House was impossible because of these gerrymanders. Nonsense, of course. No gerrymander makes you immune to public opinion, good candidates, and well-run campaigns. But where the lines are drawn matter — they turn narrow wins into small defeats, or big wins into medium-sized ones.
That’s why it’s so heartening to see these state-level wins that will put Democrats in a position to draw some more favorable lines in the future. Even better, state legislators get to draw their own lines so as to entrench victory. This is part of the problem with all arguments of the form “really it would be better to lose in Year Y so as to be better-positioned for Year X.” As long as you don’t use your governing power so ineptly as to totally discredit your political party (see Bush, George W.; Delay, Tom; etc.) one of the main consequences of political power is that it gives you the power to set up a situation favorable to . . . maintaining power.