Monopoly Politics 2020: The Root of Dysfunction in the U.S. House of Representatives

December 17, 2020

FairVote’s Monopoly Politics is a biennial project conducted before each election cycle to predict the results of all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. First developed in 1997 as a forerunner to the Cook Partisan Voting Index and later refined to systematize its weighting of incumbency, Monopoly Politics’ influential methodology relies solely on prior voting patterns to make its predictions, rather than polling data and other inputs that capture more transitory changes in the political landscape. Based on its predictive success, this methodology is sound: Monopoly Politics’ highest confidence projections were over 99% accurate for five of the last six election cycles. 

The key takeaway from Monopoly Politics 2020 is that nearly every election is reinforcing our original insight that partisanship is becoming the primary determinant of electoral outcomes. As the incumbency bump falls and crossover representatives grow rarer, voters are gradually falling back into patterns of local partisanship to elect their representatives, regardless of political experience or name recognition. The result is a polarized system where candidates are rewarded for adopting hyper-partisan platforms, particularly in hyper-partisan districts, instead of championing inclusive policies and bipartisan compromise that benefit all.