Apr 9, 2017

Why Washington is broken

Charlie Cook and his team at The Cook Political Report are out with eye-popping new data that help show why Congress is frozen — and why happy talk about working together to do big things, whether by optimistic centrists or by people in power who need to put points on the board, is belied by data.

Data: 2017 Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Key trends — all 20 years in the making, but hardened and in some cases accelerated by the "hyper-polarized" election of 2016 — from the 20th anniversary "Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index," by David Wasserman and Ally Flinn:

  • The decline of crossover districts: Only 35 of the nation's 435 House districts went for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 108 in 1996. 23 Republican House members are from districts Hillary carried, and 12 Dems are from districts Trump carried.
  • Persistent volatility: 21 House districts that voted for Obama in '12 switched and went for Trump. 15 went Romney in '12 but Hillary last year.
  • The decline of swing districts: In 1997, voters in 164 of the nation's 435 House districts were relatively split by party. Now, only 72 districts are in the same range — less than one-sixth of the House.
  • Amazing stat: 78% of Democratic-leaning seats got even more Democratic, and 65% of GOP-leaning seats got even more Republican.

What it means: We are increasingly moving next to people who share our political views — and then following and sharing like-minded news on social media when our doors are closed. This can't be fixed with better redistricting laws.

See a chart from Quorum of Dem House members in the top R-trending districts, and GOP House members in the top D-trending districts.

Go deeper

The House Democrats supporting impeachment from districts Trump won

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

So far, 28 of the 31 moderate Democrats who represent districts that President Trump won in 2016 have announced they will back Trump's impeachment on Wednesday, despite fears that their votes could put their seats at risk in 2020.

The big picture: Democratic members and committee staffers told Axios' Alayna Treene they expect four to six moderate Democrats to break ranks and vote against the articles.

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Rep. Jeff Van Drew to vote against impeachment as a Democrat

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Freshman New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew told CNN's Manu Raju on Wednesday that he plans to vote against both articles of impeachment against President Trump as a Democrat.

Why it matters: A White House official told Axios' Jonathan Swan that Van Drew is expected to flip parties and become a Republican soon. Van Drew's statement ensures that House Democrats will have at least one defector Wednesday in the full House vote. But Democratic members and committee staffers have told Axios' Alayna Treene they expect four to six moderate Democrats to break ranks and vote against impeaching Trump.

Go deeper: The House Democrats supporting impeachment from districts Trump won

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Rural America set to lose political power after 2020 census

Ottawa, Illinois, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In most of the 10 states that will likely lose a House seat due to reapportionment beginning in 2022, current demographic trends are poised to shift political power from rural counties to metropolitan counties, according to an analysis by The Hill's Reid Wilson.

Why it matters: Census counts are crucial for determining political representation in the House, and minor changes in population can alter a state's power in Congress for a decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 5, 2020