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The Over-Under for the House GOP This Fall

Posted on September 4, 2014
John Boehner official portrait.jpg

"John Boehner official portrait" by United States House of Representatives - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal's Think Tank)

So, what’s the over-under for House Republicans?

Politico suggested earlier this week that if the GOP won only six seats this November — which would get them to 240  — it would be a bitter disappointment to House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team.

But six seats would put them at the high end of their range over the last decade.  In 2010, they had 242, but they never had won more than 233 seats throughout the first decade of the 2000s.

In fact, before 2010, the last time they had more than 233 seats was in aftermath of World War II, when the Republicans captured 246 seats in 1946. They subsequently lost that majority in the famous “Do-Nothing” Congress of 1948.

Republicans ushered in the Roaring Twenties with a huge majority of 302 seats in the 1920 election, which also swept Warren G. Harding into the White House. Republicans left that decade on a high note, with 270 seats in 1928

But the Great Crash, the Great Depression, the end of Prohibition and the beginning of the New Deal permanently wiped out that electoral map, and made it awfully difficult for Republicans to regain the House majority for another seven decades.

When the GOP did win back of the majority in 1994, picking up 54 seats for a total of 230, Republicans could lay claim to just over half of the electorate, which is pretty much how the map looks today.

If House Republicans gain six seats this election, they should be thrilled with the result.

They would be right at their historic high and pundits shouldn’t expect much more than that.

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