The party has won a majority of U.S. House seats in just seven of 18 cycles in which their presidential nominee carried the state
After the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last month that new state legislative and congressional maps must be drawn, Badger State residents watch and wait to learn how competitive their forthcoming 2024 districts will be.
Democrats have failed to evenly split – let alone win a majority of – the number of U.S. House seats in Wisconsin during any of the six cycles that have taken place since the GOP initially took control of the governorship, state senate, and state assembly after the 2010 election.
Up the ballot, Democrats have won 12 of 21 statewide partisan elections in Wisconsin since 2012 just as the party was defeated in 32 of 49 U.S. House contests across districts drawn in what the Court has determined to be unconstitutionally partisan maps.
The Democratic deficit has been particularly striking during this stretch as it was two U.S. House seats under water vis-à-vis the GOP in two presidential election cycles during which the state backed a Democrat for the White House: losing five of eight seats while backing Barack Obama in 2012 and Joe Biden in 2020.
In fact, Democrats have won a majority of U.S. House seats in just seven of 18 cycles in which their presidential nominee carried the state dating back to the mid-19th Century, compared to 22 of 25 for Republicans.
The only three cycles in which the GOP presidential nominee carried the state and the party did not win a majority of U.S. House seats are 1972, 1980, and 1984 – losing five of nine congressional districts in each.
In addition to 2012 and 2020, Republicans also won a majority of U.S. House seats despite losing the presidential election in the state in 1992 and drew even with a 4-4 seat split in 2004 as John Kerry carried the state.
Democratic presidential nominees also won Wisconsin in the following cycles en route to losing a majority of congressional districts:
- 1848: Democrats carried one of three districts with Free Soilers and Whigs splitting the other two in narrow wins over Democratic nominees. Lewis Cass won the state with a 38.3 percent plurality over Zachary Taylor.
- 1912: Democrats won only four of 11 districts despite Woodrow Wilson’s 41.1 percent plurality victory
- 1936: Democrats captured just three of 10 districts despite FDR’s 33-point win, as Progressives won the remaining seven seats
- 1940: Democrats won only one of 10 districts as FDR was victorious in the state for a third straight cycle. Republicans won six seats and the Progressives three.
- 1948: Democrats carried two of 10 districts behind Harry Truman’s 4.4-point win (after being shut out by the GOP during the disastrous 1946 midterms).
Wisconsin’s congressional districts have been notoriously noncompetitive for decades.
Since 2002, just eight of the 89 U.S. House contests held in the state have been decided by single digits.
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