From James Taranto
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal points out a couple of interesting things today.
1. It may be easier for the Democrats to take control of the Senate, rather than the House. Why? Congressional districts are gerrymandered to heavily favor one party over another, so when the wave of public opinion swings in either direction, it's still not enough to overcome the advantage the incumbent party has. Senate elections are statewide, and reflect changes in sentiment at the statewide level.
Take a look at the 2004 results in California's 53 House districts for an illustration of how much of a hump the challenging parties have to overcome; in only three districts did the losing party's candidate come within 20 percentage points of the winner! In their efforts to sink last year's ballot proposition to have judges draw congressional boundaries, the Democrats may have shot themselves in the foot by killing their chances of making any significant gains when the Republicans are down. California's gerrymandering is truly the Incumbent Protection Plan. For some examples of absurdly gerrymandered districts, check out these maps of Districts 23, 38, and 46 (see how Palos Verdes is tenuously attached to Huntington Beach).
Contrast that with, say, Colorado's Congressional districts, which adhere much more closely to county boundaries. Of only seven districts, three of the elections had the two major parties within 12 percentage points in 2004. One of those--- 1/7 of the state's Congressional representation--- looks like it will switch to the Democrats, another is a possibility, and the other, which the Democrats took narrowly in 2004, looks like a much more solid win for them this year.
2. A Norwegian school is trying to turn all of its little boys into sitzpinklers.
In German, the phrase for someone who sits and urinates, a "Sitzpinkler", is equivalent to "wimp".