Only So Many Republicans Out There
There is no doubt Republicans have effectively used the redistricting process to retain control of the House of Representatives. Republicans have been able to do this because they have won elections at the state level. They have earned the right to draw the lines.
A less commented upon aspect of Republican control is how small GOP majorities have been since taking over the House in 1995. The high-water mark for Republicans since 1995 has been 232 of the 435 seats. This was after the 2004 election. 218 is a majority. Republicans won 223 seats in 1998 and 221 seats in 2000. By contrast, between the elections of 1932 and 1994 Democrats held 232 seats or fewer for a total of just eight years.
The flip side of skillful Republican district-drawing has been stretching Republican voters so thin that secure majorities are difficult to obtain. The good news is that, so far, there are only so many Republican voters. This fact, along with the horrible record of Republicans in government, makes the House vulnerable to a switch in party control this November.
Democrats and liberals looking for stronger showings in the next decade, should focus on races for Governor and the state legislatures in 2006 and in the two election cycles after 2006. It is these elections that will determine how district lines will be drawn after the 2010 census.