In 2012, Democrats won a majority of the House popular vote, but only held a minority of the congressional seats. Democratic congressional candidates received 1.4 million more votes, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 33 seat margin.

Even in swing states that President Obama won, Republicans managed to score lopsided majorities in their congressional delegations: Democratic congressional candidates won nearly half the votes in Virginia but only 27 percent of its seats, and 48 percent of the vote in Ohio but only a quarter of its seats. It was the second time in 70 years that a party won the majority of the vote but didn’t win a majority of the House seats.

What caused this historic imbalance?

Republicans at the state level used hyper-partisan congressional maps to put millions of Americans on the losing side of the 2012 election — and every subsequent election.



Political analysts agree: there is a “vital connection” between success in gubernatorial elections and the ability to control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Governors play a key role in the redistricting process in 35 states, which determines the playing field for congressional elections.

Having a lock on the redistricting process allows GOP governors to rubber stamp gerrymandered maps that distort the electoral process and result in Democrats winning proportionally fewer districts than their percentage of the popular vote.

That’s exactly what happened after the 2010 Tea Party wave, when Republicans took 11 governorships from the Democrats. Thanks to the GOP’s gubernatorial and state-level victories, Republicans were suddenly in the best redistricting position their party had seen in a generation. Under the leadership of Republican governors, Tea Party mapmakers drew congressional lines in a way that ensured as few Democrats would be elected as possible.

The historic electoral disadvantage facing Democratic candidates will be felt for the foreseeable future. As long as Republicans continue to win at the state-level, they will continue to control the U.S. House of Representatives.

We cannot let history repeat itself. If Democrats do not take action now to prevent Republican governors from controlling the redistricting process, 2020 is going to be 2010 all over again.



To fight back, the Democratic Governors Association has established the 2020 Redistricting Fund.

Co-chaired by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, the DGA’s Redistricting Fund will direct additional investments to target gubernatorial races where a Democratic governor can have a significant impact on the redistricting process.

Our goal is to engage Democrats around the country about redistricting and inform them about the pivotal role played by Democratic governors. By picking up new seats and protecting governorships already held by Democrats, we have an opportunity to transform the U.S. House of Representatives and impact public policy across the country.

States in the Spotlight