CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We are a year away from the 2014 elections, but the early returns are already in: FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2014 projects winners and their victory margins in 373 of 435 congressional districts. That means more than 85 percent of "races" are so safe for incumbents that nothing in the upcoming year of governing and campaigning will change the outcome.
West Virginia is no exception. Two of its three districts are likely to be won by landslide margins of at least 20 percent in 2014. Only the continued survival of Democrat Nick Rahall in the 3rd district saves West Virginia from a complete lack of competition in its House races.
Using the same methodology last year, FairVote was correct in all 333 of our projections. There was more turnover due to redistricting, but now most incumbents are even more entrenched in districts that are safe for their party.
Our report reveals an even more startling finding. Due to a combination of partisan gerrymandering, incumbency advantages, declines in ticket-splitting, and the concentration of Democratic voters in urban areas, House Republicans would likely keep their majority with as little as 45 percent of the national vote in 2014. Such an outcome would make a mockery of representative democracy.
This bias creates an obvious disadvantage for Democrats, but it hurts Republicans too. Because almost all House incumbents only fear primary challenges, they move further from the center. Republicans' entrenched majority means they can ignore changes in the electorate, making it harder to win the White House and Senate.
Most importantly, the partisan bias and ultra-safe seats in House elections hurt the nation. Unaccountable congressional leadership means gridlock and dysfunctional government.
The good news is that we can reform Congress with ranked choice voting. Used in many nations and American cities, ranked choice voting allows voters to indicate their preferences on their ballots. When used to elect several candidates, it guarantees more diverse representation than our winner-take-all elections in which a handful of primary voters decide everyone's representation.