FairVote's Projections for U.S. House Elections in 2016

// Published November 6, 2014


Today, FairVote releases its projections for the November 2016 congressional elections that will take place nearly two years from now. If every incumbent were to seek re-election, we project that 373 of them would win. In 2013, we projected outcomes in 368 House races with 99.7% accuracy (367 correct)* with the same approach. Here are key facts:

  • These 373 truly safe districts represent more than 85 percent of all House seats.
  • Only 14 districts are  labelled as true "toss-ups," representing only three percent of House seats.
  • Of the Republicans' 250 seats we anticipate them to have once the 2014 results are tallied, we project 212 winners, just six short of an absolute majority. Democrats start with 160 projected winners.
  • If all seats were open seats and voters nationally split 50-50 in their preference for Republicans or Democrats, we would expect the resulting House to consist of 245 Republicans and 190 Democrats;
  • Even if in 2016 as many as 55% of U.S. voters preferred a Democratic House to a Republican one, Republicans would still likely retain control of the body.

For all our projections and detailed information for each district, please download our Monopoly Politics 2016 spreadsheet (This version has been updated to reflect the final outcomes of races not decided by 11/6/14, and will be continuously updated to reflect seats that will be open during elections in 2016. The original spreadsheet can be found here). As described more fully below, the spreadsheet allows you to simulate projections if voters nationally favor Republicans or Democrats and to simulate outcomes with all incumbents seeking re-election or if every seat were open.

Next year we will showcase our projections in an update of our interactive map showing projections and alternative plans designed to put every voter in a meaningfully contested election. The only changes we will make to our projections in the next two years are to react to an incumbent no longer running in that district - and we already have made our projections for every district if  it becomes open - or to factor in a change in a district's partisanship in the unlikely event it is redrawn.

Summary of Monopoly Politics 2014 Projections

FairVote first released its Monopoly Politics projections in 1997. Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution, the most recent installment, is a comprehensive report analyzing the effects of an increasingly polarized electorate coupled with a House of Representatives elected exclusively from single-winner districts. That report contained projections for 368 of the 435 house seats, using a straightforward metric that did not rely on any information about polling data, campaign expenditures, or any of the other typical information used for projecting races. Instead, it projected which party's candidate would win a seat based on how voters in that district had voted in the 2012 presidential election along with a measure of incumbency strength.

First  released in the spring of 2013 and updated as seats became open, our election 2014 projections were correct in 367 out of 368 races, meaning they were 99.7% accurate.

Understanding Our Projections

Because these projections rely only on past election performance of the incumbent and the presidential candidates, it becomes possible to project the results of the 2016 election immediately following the publication of the 2014 election results. Consequently, we can now project the likely results of 369 of the 435 house races taking place in 2016. 

As you view the full spreadsheet, keep in mind that by default it assumes that nationally voters will be split 50-50 between those who prefer a Democratic house and those who prefer a Republican house. However, you can change the "Projected National Democratic %" by altering the number in cell A2 of the spreadsheet, and the projections will automatically updated to reflect that national split, rather than the default 50-50 split.

Additionally, the spreadsheet by default assumes that every incumbent will seek re-election, but it also provides the projection for each seat if the incumbent does not seek re-election. As candidates announce that they will not seek re-election, the table will be updated, so that the final projections will reflect the reality of which incumbents are running and which are not.

Note also that there are two unusual circumstances that may change some projections. First, although there is no regular redistricting until 2021, at least two states (Florida and Texas) are likely to redraw their district lines under court order. In addition, if any incumbents leave office mid-term and are replaced in special elections, then their districts will have an incumbent, but the incumbent will not have the same incumbency metric that the former member had. We will update the spreadsheet as needed any time this occurs.

Finally, as of this publication, there are still a few 2014 house races that have not yet been decided. By default, we assume results will match those projected by the Daily Kos election blog, but we include alternative projections for all reasonably possible scenarios.

We expect to at least match our 99.7% accuracy from our 2014 projections in these new projections for Election Day 2016. To learn more about how we make these projections, why our house elections are so broken, and what the fair voting solution could look like, visit Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution at fairvoting.us.

* Note that a prior version of this website indicated that we correctly projected 366 out of 368 or 99.5% accuracy. This was due to one very close race in California District 16. As more results have been confirmed, this race now appears to be matching our projection that Democratic incumbent Jim Costa would keep his seat.