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Most people assume when looking at the red wave of 2010 that it marched deeply into Democrat territory and it took their seats.
In reality, out of the 63 seats the Republicans gained that year- only 15 were in truly blue districts. Meaning, any district that had a PVI of more than D+1.
Additionally, the deepest blue seats that the Republicans got that year were two D+4 seats.
When putting this into context with today’s narrative about a supposed coming blue wave, most Democrats are targeting districts that would be much further than even an R+4. Several districts being targeted are R+8 or higher. Again, in context, the Republicans didn’t even get any seats that were past a D+4, even while winning the independents 56-37.
You may then ask- how did the Republicans win 63 seats then? It was because the Democrats were vastly overextended into red districts. In some cases, Democrat’s even held very red districts. Almost all of these Democrats who were holding conservative House seats in the South and Midwest got wiped, plus many in other area’s of the country as well. A well-known example of this was Ike Skelton, a rural Missouri representative holding a very conservative district. Skelton, who was a longtime incumbent, got crushed by Republican challenger Vicky Hartzler in 2010. This same scenario occurred with virtually every Democrat in a conservative area.
Looking back on it, 2010 may not have been as deep of a wave as we once thought- the vast majority of the seats Republicans picked up were in conservative leaning area’s held by Democrats.
Now fast forward to 2018. The Republicans, who are supposedly facing the Democrats turn at a wave now, are nowhere near as overextended into liberal territory as the Democrats were in 2010 with conservative territory. Here’s more context- in 2010, the deepest seat a Democrat held was an R+20 (Chet Edwards). The deepest seat the Republicans hold this is a D+6 (Carlos Curbelo). Yet, even Curbelo may still win.
The point is, there are hardly as many easy free pickups of Republican held seats in Democrat territory as there were in 2010. For the Democrats to take the House, they’d have to wade into red territory even further than Republicans waded into blue territory in 2010. This is a very tall task. Republicans in 2010 won the Independent vote 56-37, and their biggest gain still was only a couple D+4 seats. To account for gerrymandering, the Democrats would have to at least match that independent vote number, and then also hope other luck falls into place for them.
When putting it into perspective like this with 2010, it doesn’t seem so easy.