10 Maps That Explain the 2014 Midterms
By KYLE KONDIK
May 05, 2014
What the Democrats wouldn’t give to swap this year’s Senate map for the one coming up in 2016. This year’s Senate class, filled with Democratic incumbents in hostile territory, would be difficult to defend any year—it’s especially so when there’s an unpopular Democratic president in the White House. But the next Senate map, coming in 2016, is filled with Democratic targets and Republican vulnerabilities. Simply switch them—leaving all else the same—and the 2014 midterm takes on a completely different character.
That’s obviously impossible, but it does get at an essential truth of American politics: For all the plaudits heaped on the winners and derision dumped on the losers after an election, structural factors controlled by neither side dictate the results to a significant degree. Big gains one year lead to big losses another; races won in certain environments would be defeats in others. Due to the mix of seats up for election this year, just 2 million voters across six states—0.6 percent of the U.S. population—could end up deciding the fate of the Senate.
What follows is an attempt to illustrate the structure of the current state of American congressional politics through a series of maps, some explaining the Senate, some explaining the House and some explaining where certain key races will be won and lost.
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