Sabato's Crystal Ball

Gop Increase House Numbers

Texas redistricting and Bush coattails give Republicans an edge

Peter Jackson, Senior Writer November 4th, 2004

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Partisan redistricting and the overwhelming power of incumbency makes it such that many of the 435 House races each year are either uncontested or finished well before they begin. Texas redistricting gave the GOP an edge in this year’s battle for control of the House. The five Texas House races in the Crystal Ball’s Dirty 30 list all featured incumbent Democrats in newly drawn districts. With only Democrat Chet Edwards surviving in the 17th district, Republicans were able to pick off four seats from Democrats in Texas alone.

Only one contest in the Dirty 30 caused trouble for the Crystal Ball. In Indiana’s ninth congressional district, three-term incumbent Democrat Baron Hill was pitted in a rematch with his 2002 challenger: Republican Mike Sodrel. He was the beneficiary of fundraising help from Vice President Dick Cheney as well as strong growth for the GOP in the heavily Republican western Cincinnati suburbs. Despite partisan redistricting that benefited Hill, the GOP was able to grab this seat from the Democrats.

Of the 30 races the Crystal Ball called, 29 outcomes were correctly predicted. With Republicans now controlling 231 House seats, the Democrats holding 200, one seat in the hands Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, three contests still remain undecided. Which ever way those remaining three seats fall, the final numbers won’t be very far from the Crystal Ball’s estimate of 232 Republicans, 202 Democrats and one independent.