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The House of Representatives: The no-wave election

No comeback for Nancy

THE House of Representatives likes to think of itself as the nub of American democracy—“the people’s house”, in the pious parlance of its occupants. But this year, at least, it is something of a sideshow. The race for the presidency is too close to call; the contest for control of the Senate is going down to the wire as well. But there is little suspense regarding the House. Thanks both to the near parity of the two parties in the polls, and to vigorous gerrymandering in favour of the status quo, the Republican majority seems certain to be returned, albeit in slightly shrunken form.All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs every two years. At each of the past three elections, 20 seats or more have changed hands. These three “wave” elections constitute the most turbulent period in congressional politics since the 1940s. In 2006 the Democrats wrested control of the House from the Republicans, and then added 21 seats to their majority in 2008. But the Republicans regained all their losses and then some in 2010, winning a majority of 49 seats. For the past year the…

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