Charlie Cook, in Roll Call, 8/11/97
"New Study Identifies 75 Seats That Should Be In Play for '98 Election"
"One interesting statistical study was released last month by the non-partisan Center for Voting and Democracy.... The report says candidate performance has nothing to do with how much money a challenger has and everything to do with the racial, economic and political makeup of the constituents in that district."
Tom Brazaitis, in Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/27/97,
"Get your '98 election results right here":
"Well, the races are fixed -- not at Thistledown [racetrack], but for the House of Representatives -- and Rob Richie has broken the code..... [Richie] called a news conference last week to announce the winners of 83% of the congressional races that will be decided on Nov. 3, 1998. That's more than 15 months away."
Richard E. Cohen, National Journal, August 23, 1998.
"The Handicapping Begins for '98"
"Two provocative, wide-ranging studies of the 1996 congressional elections recently released by Washington-based political groups provide abundant data and insight....
"In its study, 'Monopoly Politics,' the nonpartisan Center for Voting and Democracy emphasized how few House seats are at risk in most campaigns. Its preview of the 1998 elections showed that the incumbent party is in danger in only 75 districts, and these are divided virtually evenly between the parties. "Most Americans, most of the time, experience 'no- choice' House elections," the report found. The chief cause, it continued, is that in most districts, a clear majority of voters favors the views of one party over the other.
"Citing these conclusions, the center argued for changing U.S. elections to 'proportional representation.'"
Sylvia Smith, Forty Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana), 8/16-18/97
"Analysis says money doesn't win elections"
"Campaign donors respond to "safe" seats more than they cause them, Richie contends. The checks they write are more an effort to influence future legislation than to affect elections.
"... Richie's organization uses this analysis to push several ideas: that reform of the campaign finance system should include primaries; that there's too much power invested in the people who draw congressional district lines; and that we'd be better off with proportional representation (in which groups of voters are represented in the legislature in proportion to the number of votes they cast).
"You don't have to buy into any of those ideas to find this analysis interesting. To read it in its entirety on the Internet, go to: http://www.igc.org/cvd/"
Peter Grier, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
"Yes, Political Ideas Can Still Triumph Over Campaign Cash":
"Big bucks don't equal automatic victory. Some research indicates that money affects the outcome of House races only on the margins - and that other variables, such as the partisan nature of a district, are far better predictors of electoral outcome.
"The lesson of this could be a reassuring one: that voters are swayed less by clever campaign ads than by a candidate's substantive beliefs.
"'We should give voters a lot more credit than we do,' says Robert Richie, executive director of The Center for Voting and Democracy here. 'They have a coherent political view of the world, and they vote coherently within an election.'
"A quick glance at recent spending records would lead one to believe that money actually is the end-all of politics. In 1996 elections for the House of Representatives the better-funded candidate won 90 percent of the time.
"But a large percentage of these races involved an incumbent. Name recognition and the power of office make incumbents tough to beat - and thus a good bet for contributors. They didn't necessarily win because they had more money, argues Mr. Richie. Rather, they attracted more money because they were likely to win."
Heather Knight, Los Angeles Times (News)
"Sanchez a '98 Underdog, Study Says"
"Despite the current focus on political fund-raising and the importance of money in the U.S. election process, the report concluded that the ideological beliefs of voters, rather than a campaign's financial status, are the key to most House races.
"'Most U.S. House elections are not competitive for one simple reason: A clear majority of voters in a given district prefer one party's philosophy over that of the other party,' the report said."
John Heckenlively, Racine Labor (Wisconsin). 8/22/97
"Voters need to start drawing the line"
"One of the most often-heard reasons people give for not voting is that "my vote doesn't mean anything." Under the current system of winner-take-all, that's true for around 80 percent of voters. Under a PR system, 75-80 percent of voters actually put someone in office when they vote.
"While money plays a role in contemporary politics, districting plays a far more critical one. If we truly want to restore the principle of "one person, one vote," voters must start drawing the lines instead of the politicians."
Sean Loughlin, New York Times Regional Newspaper Group
"In 'Monopoly Politics,' the Center for Voting and Democracy picks winners in 360 House races, predicting that 238 of those races will result in landslide margins of 20 percent or more.
"In its compelling analysis, the center argues that barring a dramatic event, such as a depression or war, demographics and voting patterns determine whether a district is likely to swing Democratic or Republican in 1998.
"....Richie points out that in the battles over drawing new district lines, lawmakers are basically picking out the voters 'before the constituents choose them.'"
Jack Beatty, Atlantic Monthly
Down With Majority Rule
How our winner-take-all voting system stifles democracy
"The main goal of Monopoly Politics is to do away with the single-member winner-take-all district. If 50.1 percent of voters vote one way and 49.9 percent vote the other, the seat goes to the winner and the sentiments of almost half of the voters in that district are unrepresented in the House. In multi-member districts seats would be apportioned according to the percentage of the vote won by each candidate. This would increase voter turnout, political scientists say, which currently is held down by the winner-take-all system. It would expand the range of political debate by sending both strong conservatives and strong liberals to Congress, it would greatly encourage minority and women candidates, and it would break the two-party monopoly by leaving space for the formation of a third party."
David L. Haase, The Indianapolis Star/News (Sept. 2, 1997)
Demographics, not dollars, determine who wins the races for Congress.
"Where are those "no-choice'' districts, and where's the action? Here the center does a wonderful job of using the World Wide Web and its hypertext linking capability to present lots of numbers in a clear way.....
"Sometimes the numbers almost overwhelm you. When that happens, just fall back on the spare, but clear explanations. Besides, the 1998 election is 14 months away. You've got at least that long to figure it all out and place your bets."
Lee Davidson, Deseret News Washington correspondent (August 6, 1997)
Hope to beat Hansen, Cook, Cannon? Don't count on it
"Next year's Utah congressional elections are already over, decided and finished. The incumbents will win.
"The Washington-based Center for Voting and Democracy says that now, even before opponents are chosen or the first political ad purchased - and a year and a quarter before ballots are cast.
"It does so complaining that state legislatures draw U.S. House districts to protect local majority parties."
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