No, not really. But sort of. Ian Millhiser explains that Democratic House candidates actually got more votes nationwide than Republicans, by around 500,000. So how could the Republicans maintain their majority? Simple. It was gerrymandering. Nick Baumann at Mother Jones has the goods (h/t Dayen):
- 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: 12-4 GOP
- Virginia, which Obama won by around 3 percentage points: 8-3 GOP
- Pennsylvania, which Obama won by more than 5 percentage points: 13-5 GOP
- Wisconsin, which Obama won by 6 percentage points: 5-3 GOP
- Michigan, which Obama won by 8 percentage points: 9-5 GOP
Now, in fairness, it is not all about partisan gerrymandering. Some of this is also because of the creation of majority-minority districts, particularly in the south. But that is decidedly a secondary impact.
Last week, I argued that if Obama were to win the electoral college but lose the popular vote, that should not affect his legitimacy as President: that’s the way that the system was set up. So does that apply here? Not so much: the Electoral College is created by the Constitution. Partisan gerrymanders are created by — Republican state legislatures. They created this distorted system; they can’t argue then that they were simply playing by the rules.
I’m not precisely sure what it means to question the “legitimacy” of some governing institution. But to the extent that any duly and legally elected House majority is illegitimate, it is this one. Let’s have none of the idea that the voters wanted to support conservative ideology by returning John Boehner to the Speaker’s chair. They didn’t. They wanted change. And the GOP figured out how to prevent them from exercising their will.