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In 98th Congress, they won't make coalitions the way they used to

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The economy wasn't the only major election factor that failed to deliver for the Republicans.

Reapportionment - the shift of nine congressional seats from the East to the West, and eight from the Midwest to the South after the 1980 census - was as great a disappointment to the GOP.

The Republicans had been counting on at least 15 new seats in Congress as a result of redistricting, following the shift of 17 seats to the Sunbelt from the older industrial Midwest and Northeast.

Instead, a Monitor analysis shows, the Republicans lost a total of five seats in the South and West, while losing 21 in the Midwest and Northeast.

Thus, redistricting and the election eroded the party's former moderate GOP power base in the Midwest and East, shifting it to the conservative West.

The loss of moderate Republican strength means fewer GOP bridge-builders, forcing the Reagan team to deal more directly with moderate power-brokers in the Democratic Party. At the same time, the surviving GOP moderates, like Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, will likely play a more assertive role in offering bipartisan solutions for the impending budget, defense, tax, and social security clashes in Congress.

The failure of reapportionment to deliver for the Republicans greatly weakens GOP hopes that the underlying movement in political power, resulting from population and employment drift, was in the GOP's direction. As the Republican strategist John Sears notes, it may have been unrealistic for Republicans to think voters' political preferences would change with their movement to new regions. The result could well be a strengthening of Democratic holds in the Southwest - and in 1982 that apparently happened.


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