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In one 11-state swath, House Republicans are a vanishing breed

November 5, 2008 |  8:14 pm

Aside from John McCain, another defeated Republican garnered a fair share of attention Tuesday night -- Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut (below), who after fending off several spirited challenges in recent elections finally got knocked off.

Since the Democratic surge in the 2006 midterm election, Shays had been the last man standing -- the sole Republican House member from any of the six New England states. (For a video on the Congressional races, click on the Read more line below.)

With his defeat, the tally for the congressional districts in his state plus Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island now stands at Democrats: 22, Republicans: Zip.

Republican Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut was defeated for re-election That got The Ticket wondering about the breakdown, more broadly, in the northeast (once home to multitudes of so-called Rockefeller Republicans) and parts of the mid-Atlantic region.

So we looked at what the new House delegation counts will be in five more states -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

Assuming that a Democrat retains a slim lead in a close race in Maryland, when Congress reconvenes in January Barack Obama's party will occupy 74 House seats in this 11-state area extending from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Maine. The GOP number: 17.

Put another way, the Democrats will control 81% of the total seats, Republicans 19%.

Along with the wipeout in New England, the shrinkage of GOP House members hailing from New York is especially notable.

After the 2002 midterm, the Empire State's 29-member delegation consisted of 19 Democrats and 10 Republicans. The GOP number has been steadily reduced in every election since then. After Tuesday night, the figures are Democrats 26, Republicans 3.

Nationwide, the GOP losses in Senate and House races could have been worse. The party appears to have avoided a Democratic Senate that is filibuster-proof. And the net Republican hit in the House will be in the mid- to low 20s, not as bad as many forecast.

Still, we think the folks producing MSNBC's "First Read" political briefing nailed it today when they wrote that "the glass isn't half full for the GOP, it simply has some condensation."

-- Don Frederick

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Photo credit: Associated Press