Q. Have they ever figured out what the Republican-Democrat split will be in the House of Representatives come January? Also, what is the breakdown in governorships?
-- Larry Reid, of Belleville
A. I'm glad you waited to ask, because until just this week, I could not have given you a precise answer.
But the uncertainty ended Tuesday night when North Carolina state Sen. David Rouzer, a Republican, finally conceded his race to Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre in North Carolina's 7th District.
Out of 336,000 votes cast, only 655 separated the two, which, of course, prompted Rouzer to request a recount. But after the extra tally, McIntyre maintained his winning margin and Rouzer on Tuesday graciously conceded, saying, "We can move forward satisfied that each vote was counted properly and accurately."
It was, by the way, a district that gave Republican John McCain 58 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential race.
That leaves only two seats undecided, although neither likely will change the numbers. In Louisiana's 3rd District, none of the five candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 6, so the top two finishers are still battling each other as they head toward a runoff set for Dec. 8.
However, both of them are Republican representatives who were thrown into the same district when the state lost a seat after the 2010 census. Charles Boustany is looking for his fifth term while Jeff Landry is looking for his second; either way, the Republicans have a lock on the seat.
The other question mark popped up last week right here in Illinois when Jesse Jackson Jr., who had been re-elected, resigned for health reasons. I think most pundits assume that a Democrat will win a special election that now must be held, but anything can happen.
As a result, the new count in January will be 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats. That's a gain from the 242-193 disadvantage Democrats faced when the 112th Congress opened in 2011, but not nearly enough to give control to the Nancy Pelosi-Steny Hoyer-led Democrats.
The race for the top statehouse seats also saw a nail-biter, but not nearly as close as the North Carolina House race. With more than 3 million votes cast, Democrat Jay Inslee led Republican Rob McKenna by 56,000 votes, and McKenna finally threw in the towel on Nov. 9.
Still, Republicans will hold a 30-19 edge with one seat held by an independent -- Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, who left the Republicans in 2007.
Of 11 gubenatorial races, the only state that changed party hands was North Carolina, where Republican Pat McCrory defeated current Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. Current Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue, the state's first female governor, took office in 2009, but declining popularity convinced her not to seek a second term.
You didn't ask, but the Democrats tightened their grip on the Senate from 51-47-2 to 54-45-1.
Q. Once in a while, an organization will schedule a shred day that offers data destruction at a very affordable cost. Any chance one of those events is coming up soon?
-- Melanie, of Belleville
A. I'm not aware of any in the near future, but depending on how much stuff you have to deep-six, I have a couple of ideas.
First, I noticed that a new shipping store that recently opened in the Belleville Crossing complex is offering secure document shredding for a bargain rate of 50 cents per pound through Dec. 15. All In Shipping is in a stand-alone building between Home Depot and Oliver C. Joseph; for more information, go to www.allinshipping.net or call 235-6080.
Other major retailers also offer shredding, including Office Max at 79 cents per pound. You might also try Phoenix Recycling, which says it has the area's lowest rates (phoenixrecyclingshredding.com, 277-4100) or search the Internet for "St. Louis shredding."
Or, again depending on the quantity, buy yourself a crosscut shredder. They start at about $25, and I've been feeding mine for years with no breakdowns -- or stolen identity.
When it comes to apples, was there a real Granny Smith?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: If you took a typing class, how many times were you asked to tap out "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"? That exercise is known as a "pangram" -- a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet. They can get pretty silly: "Glib jocks quiz nymph to vex dwarf." You can find them in many languages. In German, for example, you could have "Victor jagt zwolf Boxkampfer quer uber den gro(*167*)en Sylter Deich." (Something like "Victor raced 12 boxers over across the big Sylter dike.") And that not only has every letter, but also umlauts and the eszett, that funny-looking equivalent of a double s.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org