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Not Our Congress: New Reports Show Just How Much Our Elections Have Failed Us

congress
Created: 01 March, 2023
Updated: 22 January, 2024
2 min read

The 2022 midterm elections were the least competitive, and most partisan in modern history, according to new findings from the nonpartisan group, FairVote. As a result, the "People's House" isn't actually representative of the American people at all.

FairVote released two reports this week: Dubious Democracy, which highlights the astounding lack of competition in congressional elections, and its annual Monopoly Politics report, which projects the results of congressional elections up to two years in advance.

Both reports include shocking details regarding the state of American democracy. In Dubious Democracy, FairVote found that 24% of eligible voters cast a ballot for a winning House candidate. This is the lowest number from the group's reports since 2014.

“It’s no surprise that Americans don’t feel represented by Congress – most of us didn’t vote for them,” said Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote.

The report also found that 84% percent of House races were decided by at least 10 percentage points. Two-third were decided by 20 points or more. And, the average margin of victory in House races was 28 points.

“Competition is down, partisanship and gridlock are up, and the vast majority of voters are trapped in one-party districts where our votes don’t make a difference," said Richie.

Monopoly Politics takes a look at the "incumbency bump," or the advantage that incumbent members of Congress have when seeking reelection. Reports over recent years have found that this bump is falling --and hit another historic low in 2022.

On the surface this might sound like a good thing. But the incumbency bump is not falling because of increased competition. It is falling, FairVote says, because of "the increasing importance of whether a candidate has an R or D next to their name, and decreasing importance of their history with the community and record of constituent service."

In other words, partisanship is stronger than incumbency advantage, and is a much greater factor than who a candidate is or their record. 

FairVote has made its projections for the 2024 congressional election cycle. In Monopoly Politics, the group predicts a record 369 safe seats. The report defines "safe" as an election that will be decided by 10+ percentage points.

This is the highest number of safe seats since 1996. FairVote also predicts there will only be 25 true "toss=ups."

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