Cook’s Partisan Voting Index and the Decline of the Swing District

by Stuart Rothenberg April 15, 2013 · 9:30 AM EDT

Every political reporter, campaign professional and political junkie should read Charlie Cook’s most recent National Journal column on the decline of swing congressional districts and the rise of partisanship. (I am certain some credit for the analysis also goes to David Wasserman over at the Cook Political Report.)

Cook documents how the number of competitive districts has dropped, and how already partisan districts have become even more so.

Many of us have been talking about this for years, but it’s great to have numbers that show the trend so clearly.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats should merely throw in the towel in 2014 (or 2016, 2018 and 2020). But it does mean that they have an awfully steep climb to 218 seats. They’ll need some sort of wave this cycle to net a gain of 17 seats. Of course, changing residential/population patterns could change the math toward the end of this decade.

In any case, Cook’s column should remind all of us about the importance of redistricting — and that means state legislative and gubernatorial elections just before a redistricting cycle.