[Updated from pre­vi­ous ver­sion, errors cor­rected and new infor­ma­tion added. Thanks to com­menters for their suggestions.]

It was a good-​​enough Elec­tion Day for House Democ­rats, although they fell far short of cap­tur­ing the 25 seats needed to regain the majority.

At this writ­ing, news ser­vices have called House seats for 194 Democ­rats and 233 Repub­li­cans, with eight seats still being decided. Of these eight races, seven are led by Democ­rats, none are led by a Repub­li­can, and one will have two Louisiana Repub­li­cans (from an open gen­eral elec­tion bal­lot) run­ning against each other in a runoff. If the cur­rent leads hold, the 113th Con­gress will have 201 Democ­rats and 234 Repub­li­cans. That would be a gain of nine seats for the Democ­rats over the 112th Con­gress (plus replace­ments for vacant seats once held by two elected Demo­c­ra­tic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives). The com­po­si­tion of the 112th Con­gress (which serves through Jan­u­ary 2, 2013) is 190 Democ­rats and 240 Repub­li­cans with five vacan­cies. There are 435 Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the House, so 218 seats make a major­ity for most votes.

Cook Polit­i­cal Report did a great job call­ing the results of House races. Races rated “Likely Demo­c­ra­tic” by Cook were won by all 10 Democ­rats rated. Eleven races were rated “Lean Demo­c­ra­tic”. Of those, nine were won by Democ­rats and the results are still pend­ing in two Ari­zona races: in AZ-​​2, incum­bent Demo­c­rat Ron Bar­ber now leads the Repub­li­can, Martha McSally, by more than 300 votes; in AZ-​​9, Kyrsten Sinema (D) is ahead of Ver­non Parker (R) by 5,700 votes. Tossup races broke slightly toward the Demo­c­ra­tic side: of the 29 “tossup” races, Democ­rats won or are lead­ing in 20 and Repub­li­cans won or are lead­ing in nine races. Most of the races where the out­come is still not deter­mined come from this cat­e­gory: CA-​​7 (Bera [D] leads Lun­gren [incum­bent R] by fewer than 200 votes); CA-​​52 (Peters [D] leads Bil­bray [incum­bent R] by fewer than 700 votes); FL-​​18 (Mur­phy [D] leads West [sort-​​of-​​incumbent redis­tricted R] by 2400 votes); NC-​​7 (McIn­tyre [D] leads Rouser [R] by fewer than 400 votes). In Florida’s 18th Dis­trict, loser Allen West (R) also comes from this group. The pre­pon­der­ance of Demo­c­ra­tic wins in this cat­e­gory is evi­dence for a very, very small wave favor­ing Democrats.

In “leans Repub­li­can” based on Cook’s calls, 15 Repub­li­cans and two Democ­rats (Tier­ney in MA-​​6 and Math­e­son in UT-​​4) pre­vailed. There are no remain­ing Repub­li­cans in the House rep­re­sent­ing New Eng­land states. In the “likely Repub­li­can” col­umn, all Repub­li­cans won. Again, there was a minor wave buoy­ing Democ­rats, but it was tiny com­pared to the 2010 wave that swept Repub­li­cans into lead­er­ship of the House. In Minnesota’s 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, fire­brand Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michele Bach­mann was threat­ened, but even­tu­ally pre­vailed over Demo­c­rat Jim Graves by 4,200 votes.

[Cor­rec­tions in the pre­vi­ous para­graphs made based on lat­est Cook report and news reports.]

Polit­i­cal sci­en­tists have noted the increas­ing polar­iza­tion of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This is shown graph­i­cally by Keith Poole and Christo­pher Hare, polit­i­cal sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Geor­gia, cre­ators of the DW-​​NOMINATE scale and authors of the Vote­view blog.

Hare and Poole’s chart of increas­ing polar­iza­tion in Con­gress (red line) 1879–2011.

The num­ber of mod­er­ate Democ­rats began drop­ping before World War II, while mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans held on until the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion. The rea­sons are not known, but I would spec­u­late that Nixon’s “South­ern Strat­egy” and the incor­po­ra­tion of the south­ern, socially con­ser­v­a­tive wing of for­mer Democ­rats had much to do with the shift. Note the num­ber of mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans in the House: near zero. (Not that the Democ­rats have brag­ging rights; within their party, their mod­er­ates’ share is at a level close to his­tor­i­cal lows.)

How did each group of the 112th Con­gress’ House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive fare? I’ve taken the ten most lib­eral, ten most con­ser­v­a­tive, and ten most mod­er­ate mem­bers (based on DW-​​NOMINATE scores) to com­pare their fates. Since there is no over­lap between the par­ties, the five most con­ser­v­a­tive Democ­rats and the five most lib­eral Repub­li­cans com­prise the ten most moderate.

Lib­er­als (all Democrats)
Mem­ber (state) DW-​​NOMINATE 2012 result
 Lee (CA)  –0.744 won with 86% of the vote
 Cony­ers (MI)  –0.717 won with 82% of the vote
 Waters (CA)  –0.713 won with 71% of the vote
 McDer­mott (WA)  –0.707 won with 80% of the vote
 Fil­ner (CA)  –0.682 elected SD Mayor; Var­gas (D) 70%
 Stark (CA)  –0.674 defeated 47%-53% by Swall­well (D)
 Clarke (NY)  –0.650 won with 87% of the vote
 Schakowski (IL)  –0.647 won with 66% of the vote
 Gri­jalva (AZ)  –0.639 won with a mere 57% of the vote
 Payne (NJ)  –0.635 won with 87% of the vote
 Moderates
 Alt­mire (D-​​PA)  –0.135 redis­trict­ing put two incum­bent Ds in 12th dis­trict; lost
pri­mary to Critz; Critz lost to Roth­fus (R) 41%-59%
 Don­nelly (D-​​IN)  –0.132 elected to Senate
 Bar­row (D-​​GA)  –0.132 won with 54% of the vote
 Boren (D-​​OK)  –0.111 retired; Mullin (R) 57%
 Shuler (D-​​NC)  –0.102 retired; Mead­ows (R) 57%
 Smith (R-​​NJ)  +0.121 won with 68% of the vote
 Lobiondo (R-​​NJ)  +0.182 won with 58% of the vote
 Mee­han (R-​​PA)  +0.189 won with 60% of the vote
 Reichert (R-​​WA)  +0.192 won with 59% of the vote
 Hanna (R-​​NY)  +0.195 won with 60% of the vote
Con­ser­v­a­tives (all Republicans) 
 Hen­sar­ling (TX)  +0.745 won with 64% of the vote
 Camp­bell (CA)  +0.757 won with 60% of the vote
 Franks (AZ)  +0.775 won with 64% of the vote
 Stutz­man (IN)  +0.781 won with 67% of the vote
 Mul­vaney (SC)  +0.819 won with 56% of the vote
 Amash (MI)  +0.837 won with 53% of the vote
 Graves (GA)  +0.914 won with 73% of the vote
 Broun (GA)  +0.954 unop­posed
 Paul (TX)  +0.971 retired; Randy Weber (R) 54%
 Flake (AZ)  +0.988 elected to Sen­ate; Matt Salmon (R) 67%

Stuck in the Mid­dle with You. Photo: AP.

Sadly, these results will likely deepen the chasm between Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans in the House. While mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans sur­vive, mod­er­ate Democ­rats are still los­ing their seats, which will open the gap between the par­ties’ DW-​​NOMINATE scores even wider. Mean­while, extremely right-​​wing politi­cians are rewarded with re-​​election or, as in the case of Senator-​​elect Flake, pro­mo­tion to the upper house.

Is this an exam­ple of The Ide­ol­ogy Gam­ble?

On the other hand, the Repub­li­can tac­tic of obstruc­tion­ism in the 112th Con­gress may not be polit­i­cally ten­able for the 113th.

As The Econ­o­mist writes in this week’s OpEd:

But what about the Repub­li­cans? Their script is depress­ingly easy to write. The party’s lead­ers will once again con­clude that they lost because their can­di­date was not a gen­uine con­ser­v­a­tive, and vow to find the real thing next time. Pos­si­ble future lead­ers like Paul Ryan, this year’s vice-​​presidential can­di­date, will head to the right in prepa­ra­tion for the 2016 pri­maries. Com­pro­mise with Mr Obama will be treason.

If the Repub­li­cans do that they will be aban­don­ing all elec­toral sense.

What is your pre­dic­tion for the 113th Con­gress? What will they accomplish?