The GOP has a HUGE generic-ballot edge in the South (52%-31%), but it doesn’t lead anywhere else. In the Northeast, Dems have a 55%-30% edge; in the Midwest, they lead 49%-38%; and in the West, it’s 44%-43%.
Heading into the 1994 election the Dems held roughly 59% of House seats in every region of the nation, and while they ended up losing big everywhere, they got walloped in the South. Heading into the 2010 election the Dems control the exact same number of seats they did heading into 1994, but the regional disparity is startling, ranging from 82% in the Northeast to 43% in the South.
Here in the “Far West” the Dems hold a pre-1994-like 63% majority, but it’s hard to imagine 1994-like results. Back then Washington alone flipped from 8-1 D to 7-2 R, but this time around WA-03 is the only truly promising GOP pickup opportunity in the state, and even that’s gotta be ranked a toss-up. I suppose Rep. Rick Larsen needs to look over his shoulders in WA-02, but by that measure so does Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in WA-08. So a safe prediction might be a net one-seat Republican pickup here in Washington compared to a six-seat pickup in 1994. Maybe two at the most. Maybe none.
As for the rest of the West, Republicans can maybe count on picking up a seat in Idaho, one or two in California, and two or three more throughout the rest of the region, while almost certainly losing their recent special election pickup in Hawaii. Maybe. That wouldn’t make for a good year for Democrats, but it’s far from an electoral repudiation.
Of course the poll analysis does include this regional caveat:
Many of the congressional districts Republicans are targeting outside of the South resemble some of those Southern districts they’re hoping to win back in November — where you have whiter and older voters.
True, but this just serves to further point out the difference between 1994 and 2010, at least here in this Washington, for back in 1994, two of the six WA seats the GOP picked up were WA-04 (Jay Inslee) and WA-05 (Speaker Tom Foley)… exactly the kinda older, whiter, more conservative districts the R’s are now targeting. But, you know, you can’t win back a seat you’ve never given up.
The point is, the 45-seat pickup necessary for a Republican takeover this time around is made all the more difficult by our current regional divide. The Republican’s generic advantage is staggering in the South, but there is so much less low-hanging Democratic fruit down in Dixie than there was 16 years ago, the R’s simply can’t take back Congress without a somewhat comparable national wave. And at the moment, I just don’t see that sort of wave reaching the Pacific.