The lost decade: When will Democrats take back the House?

But strategists in both parties say they are still reckoning with the long-term implications of Democrats’ disastrous performance in 2010. Not only did they lose the House that year, but setbacks in state capitals meant that Republicans controlled the once-a-decade process of line drawing in 213 districts — nearly five times the number of districts Democrats had oversight over. And Republicans used that power with a vengeance.

The GOP effectiveness in erecting a gerrymandered fortress has created a paradox: Even in a fast-changing electorate, with many demographic trends favoring Democrats, the part of the national government that the Founders imagined would be most responsive to shifts in public opinion and voter behavior may actually be the least responsive.

The possibility of a decade or more of GOP House dominance is something Democrats – and even some Republicans, who still need to hit up donors – are loathe to talk about publicly. But make no mistake: Even as they struggle in presidential and Senate races, Republicans have a structural advantage in the House that could last through the next four elections.