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Davis, Frost Discuss Congressional Elections, Redistricting

Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) discussed the outlook for yesterday’s House and US Senate races across the country with Democracy Project director John Fortier at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday.  Both Davis and Frost expected that the neck-and-neck US Senate races across the country would return a Democratic majority, but they dismissed the possibility of Democrats retaking the House.  They predicted a mostly status-quo election this year in Congress, regardless of the presidential election’s outcome.

Davis, the former National Republican Congressional Committee Chair, predicted that although a Romney win would certainly help Republicans wrest control of the Senate, tight races in Indiana and Missouri made the prospect of a Republican led Senate unlikely. His counterpart, the former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair, Frost forecasted for “Democrats at the minimum keep 53 seats, maybe take 54.” The event coincided with the Democracy Project’s release of its new report, 2012 Redistricting: Will the House be More Polarized than Ever? The report outlines the impact of the 2010 redistricting cycle on the number of competitive seats and the make-up of the House. At the event, Fortier called attention to the diminishing number of competitive seats and the disappearance of “misaligned” seats—held by one party even though the home district strongly favors the other party in presidential elections. Fortier explained that while “the decline of competitive seats contributes to fewer moderates; the decline in these misaligned seats contributes greatly to the decline in moderates.” Davis pointed out that redistricting and polarization have resulted in “the parties are ideologically sorted. In the Senate, the most liberal Republican is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat.“ Davis cited members of Congress’ fears of primary challengers as contributing to increasing polarization and lack bipartisanship as “only one fourth of seats are seen as competitive over the next decade, so you’re worried about your primary, you’re not worried about your general election voters, you don’t get rewarded for compromising, you get punished.”

Despite the increasing political gridlock in Washington, Frost was still positive on Congress’ outlook. “I think the problems facing the country are so significant that the parties will have to work together in the next year or two.”

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