Friday, January 4, 2013

California: Home to Nearly 1 in 5 House Democrats

The 113th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2013.  The House of Representatives includes 38 California Democrats, the largest partisan delegation ever from a state.  California Democrats comprise 19 percent of the 200-member House Democratic Caucus (nearly one in five House Democrats), the third-highest percentage from a single state in the past century and the highest for a state's Democratic delegation in the past century.

The 38 Democrats of the California House delegation comprise the largest partisan delegation of any state in any Congress in American history.  This breaks the record set by the Pennsylvania House delegation in the 69th Congress (1925-27), composed of 36 Republicans elected by Keystone State voters in the Calvin Coolidge landslide of 1924 and again in the 71st Congress (1929-31), from June 4, 1929 until March 4, 1931.

It is impossible for any other state to break California’s record at the present time.  The 36 House members elected by Texas comprise the second-largest House delegation.  Even if all Texas congressional districts elected a Republican (or, improbably, a Democrat), the 36 Republicans would still fall two short of California’s record.  Just two U.S. states have had more than 36 members in their House delegations – California from 1963 to present and New York from 1903 to 1983.

In the 113th Congress, the Texas (24 out of 36) and Florida (17 out of 27) delegations contain more House Republicans than California (15 out of 53).  Other states with 10 or more House Republicans include Pennsylvania (13 out of 18) and Ohio (12 out of 16).  Those four states (Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio) elected a total of 66 Republicans and 31 Democrats in November 2012.  The fifteen California House Republicans in the 113th Congress comprise a mere six percent of the entire House Republican Conference.

Two other states have had partisan delegations that have compromised larger shares of their partisan caucuses/conferences in the past century.  In the first New Deal Congress (73rd Congress, 1933-35), Republicans were a small minority, with a total of 117 House members.  Pennsylvania accounted for 23 of the 117 Republicans (19.7 percent).  This was the highest concentration of House members of a major party in any state in the past century.  The second-highest record was the 17 Republicans in the New York delegation in the 75th Congress (1937-39).  They accounted for 19.1 percent of all 89 House Republicans in that Congress.

California holds the record for the highest single-state concentration of House Democrats in the past century.  As of January 3, 2013, 38 of the 200 members of the House Democratic Caucus were Californians (19 percent).  This is an increase from 17.7 percent in the 112th Congress (2011-13), 34 out of 192.  The only other state that has been a contender for this record is Texas.  In the 67th Congress (1921-23), 17 of the 131 House Democrats were Texans (13.0 percent).