Just a brief postscript to the House elections, which as I said were really decided in Republican state legislatures in 2011 during the redistricting process. It turns out that, on a vote-by-vote basis, more Americans voted for Democrats than Republicans for Congressional seats, currently by about half a million votes. That’s subject to change once all the votes get counted, but it will probably result in a BIGGER victory for Democrats, given that provisionals and late absentees skew Democratic, and the states with the most uncounted votes, like California, are blue.

How did this happen? The gerrymander. That kept states which voted for President Obama locked into Republican delegations for Congress. Nick Baumann has a good rundown:

North Carolina, which Obama lost by around 2 percentage points: 9-4 GOP
Florida, which Obama won by around half a percentage point: 17-10 GOP
Ohio, which Obama won by nearly 2 percentage points: 10-4 GOP
Virginia, which Obama won by around 3 percentage points: 8-3 GOP
Pennsylvania, which Obama won by nearly 5 percentage points: 8-5 GOP
Wisconsin, which Obama won by 6 percentage points: 5-3 GOP
Michigan, which Obama won by 8 percentage points: 9-5 GOP

Lawmakers simply chose voters in those states, rather than the other way around.

Despite this gerrymander – and helped by a favorable redistricting process in some Democratic states like Maryland and California and Illinois – Democrats are likely to pick up 7 seats in the House, for a total split of 235-200. If you take the Brennan Center report showing that redistricting solidified Republican majorities by at least 11 seats, then you have an effective 18 pickups in 2012. For context, Democrats secured 20 pickups in the “wave” year of 2008.

I still think you can thank the post-Citizens United universe for some of the Republican success in the House at well. It’s clear to me that you can shift an electorate in under-the-radar, low-profile races much more easily than in a Presidential or Senate race. It’s amusing to see the Big Money Boys with their knives out for Karl Rove, and to be sure he’s a grifter that lit a lot of their money on fire for personal reward, which is pretty much the modus operandi of conservatism. But some of that SuperPAC money did make a difference, and ensured divided, gridlocked government that gives the rich a greater chance to hold onto their tax cuts. In fact, you can see how SuperPAC cash shifted races on both sides:

The drama in northern Minnesota was mirrored in dozens of races across the country in the final days of the campaign. Much of the money came from anonymous donors. Republican-leaning groups generally outspent Democratic groups, but not by much as Democrats had feared early in the election cycle.

The executive director of the House Majority PAC, Alixandria Lapp, had been watching races like this one closely, trying to make sure viable Democratic candidates did not suffer a repeat of the 2010 onslaught from groups like American Action Network and Crossroads GPS. In 2010, she estimates that Republican candidates received three times as much outside money as Democrats.

“This year things are better,” she said in a recent interview. “We are outspent one and a half to one.”

That would explain the seven-seat Democratic gain, where a full assault not distracted by the top of the ticket could have translated into Democratic losses.

These rich donors are talking about how they’re burned out. Maybe they’ll close their wallets for 2014. But they’ll probably take a look at how they can be effective, and return to protect the GOP majority in the House.

David Dayen

David Dayen