The headline in the battle for the U.S. House on Wednesday morning was how the Democrats not only took control from Republicans, but also gained an impressive 29 seats (up to a half-dozen races across the country are still classified as too close to call).
But what has been overlooked in the coverage is that the ‘Democratic tsunami’ could have been far worse for the Republicans. A closer examination of competitive districts that did not switch parties indicate the GOP was much more vulnerable at losing close races than Democrats.
Republicans held an additional 20 ‘very competitive’ seats that were decided by 5 points or less. Only 1 Democratic district was held by this narrow margin.
Republicans also held another 16 ‘moderately competitive’ seats that were decided by between 5 and 10 points. The Democrats only held 5 districts by this margin.
It is true several of the Democratic pick-ups were won by narrow margins: Democrats won 13 of these races by less than 5 points. However, 9 Democratic pick-ups were won by between 5 and 10 points and another 7 pick-ups were won by more than 10 points.
The cautionary message for Republicans is that if their party endures continued bad news into 2007 and 2008, many more seats are at risk of falling into enemy hands than Democratic seats switching to the Republicans.