Mother Jones' Adam Serwer, Jaeah Lee, and Zaineb Mohammed published this gem today, pointing to an important trend in the 2012 elections: more voters in key battleground states turned out in support of Democratic congressional candidates, but those states are nevertheless sending more Republican congressional candidates to Washington.
The gap between the raw congressional popular votes and the partisan breakdown of the delegations really isn't close.
As a practical matter, this has limited applied value. It's a bit like a presidential candidate who loses the electoral vote pointing to the popular vote -- there's nothing wrong with having bragging rights, but that candidate still won't take the oath of office. The same is true with these U.S. House votes -- Democrats can take some solace in the raw popular vote, but John Boehner will still be Speaker, and Republicans will still enjoy about a 35-seat majority.
It matters, though, to the extent that House GOP officials believe they have a "mandate" by virtue of the election results. Indeed, Paul Ryan insisted this week that President Obama doesn't have a mandate because voters elected a House Republican majority.
And that's where bragging rights start to have some meaning. Republicans benefited, not from a groundswell of electoral support, but from gerrymandering and lines drawn to maximize a post-2010 advantage. That's a legitimate use of political power under our system, but GOP policymakers shouldn't interpret it as the basis for broad national support.