A new report found that only 10 percent of the House races in the 2022 midterm elections were competitive, noting that both Democrats and Republicans had a high number of “safe districts.”
The Fix Our House Redistricting Report found that only 42 House races were “competitive” in 2022. The report said the root of the issue was that Republicans and Democrats tend to live in different places, which results in the election being decided before people vote.
“People simply do not live in evenly divided communities where every election will be a close contest,” the report said. “Mapdrawers cannot create single-winner districts that ensure competitiveness, nor should they, or else districts would have extreme nonsensical shapes and would arbitrarily divide communities where every election would be a close contest.”
The report said that while many House races ended up being unexpectedly competitive on Election Day, some races that were thought to be competitive ended up being far from that. The authors added that even in races where it did not end up being competitive, the districts still benefited from local media attention and national parties investing in the race.
House seats were uncontested in 35 races, or about 8 percent of the House, the report found. Out of the 35 races, 16 districts had only one candidate and 19 only had one major party candidate on the ballot.
The report noted that while the number of uncontested race follows previous years’ trends, “it is still unacceptable for such a sizable chunk of voters to have virtually no change in who represents them.”
The group also found that states who used independent commissions to redraw the district lines did not see much improvement in competitiveness and fairness.
“States that used independent redistricting commissions saw only modest improvements in competitiveness and partisan fairness compared to those with maps drawn by state legislatures,” the report said.
“While independent commissions are well-intentioned and one of the best approaches to fair districting within the single-winner district system, they are insufficient to fix the uncompetitive, unrepresentative nature of most congressional districts,” the report added.
The group proposed a new way of electing representatives, like using proportional representation that would let a political party’s share of votes in an election determine how many seats it holds in the legislature.
“Proportional representation truly puts the power back in the hands of voters,” the report states. “Every election is competitive, every result fairly tracks with the votes cast, and every political party wins seats not by manipulating district lines, but by earning votes.”