In an update on Friday afternoon, one of the country's leading independent political handicappers broadened its assessment of how many House seats Republicans are likely to win this fall. "Regardless of whether you want to call it a wave," wrote the Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales -- the sort of qualifier that will keep Democratic operatives up at night -- "the fight for the House continues to creep into Democratic territory."
Talk of a Republican tsunami made us wonder: Where could the 114th Congress stand on the list of the most-lopsided Houses in history? After all, the party has rolled up an impressive majority in the last few elections. Adding more seems like it could be significant.
On the scale of history, though, the Republican margin (the percent of the House controlled by Republicans minus the percent controlled by Democrats) was fairly low in the 113th Congress. (Historic data is from the House website.)
But we're not talking about this Congress. We're talking about the next Congress. And for that, we have projections.
The Rothenberg Report moved eight more seats toward the Republicans. In total, it has 229 seats that Republicans are likely to win to the Democrats' 190. The Cook Political Report, which does similar assessments, puts the Republican number in the same place, but figures 187 seats are pretty safe to give to Democrats. That means that Rothenberg sees Republicans holding 229 to 245 seats; Cook sees it as 229 to 248. The Post's projection tool figures Republicans will hold 244 seats at this point.
How do those compare to history?
They're in the middle- to low-range of all time House seats controlled by Republicans. Even the highest estimate -- 248 -- is only the 11th-most lopsided pro-Republican House in history. And Democrats, who've controlled more Congresses since 1869 (the post-Civil War point from which we started our comparison), have beaten that margin 27 times.
Most of the large Republican margins were from the 19th century. If Cook's upper estimate is born out, it would be most dominant Republican lead in the House since 1929, the year of the stock market crash.
For Democrats, this isn't much consolation. They'd much rather see a lead like in the 65th Congress, when there was one more Republican than Democrat. Given the volatility of House elections, it probably won't be long before that Republican lead, however big, is all-but washed away.