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Handicapping the House

July 12th, 2010 - 11:11 am

Time once again to take a look at where things stand in the Battle for Control of the House. Once again, the movement is almost all the to the right. (If you need a reminder of how we measure who’s winning and losing, click here.

The last time we played back in April, there was lots of flux. Things are firming up as we get closer to November — and not in ways favorable to the Democrats.

Counting the seats in play, the Dems had 15 “Likely” wins, one of which (LA2) was a Republican seat. Plus 26 Leans Dem (with one GOP seat) for a gain of two. The Republicans had only ten Likely wins — two of which were currently held by Democrats — and 23 Leaners, of which all but three were currently held by Democrats. That was a gain of 22 for the GOP for a net gain of 20. There were 33 Toss Up seats, all Democrats save for IL10.

Back then, the Republicans needed a net gain of 40 to take control. Since then, the GOP won HI1 in a fluke race, mean a net gain of 39 is now needed to take back Nancy’s gavel.

So what’s moving where? Let’s take a look.

As noted already HI1 moved left — the only leftward lurch in the last three months — from Toss Up to Leans Dem. But it also switched to Republican in that special election. Call it a wash.

NC2 moved from Likely Dem to Leans Dem. That’s the seat held by Bob “The Manhandler” Etheridge. Given that Etheridge is up against a candidate as smart and appealing as Renee Ellmers, it might not be long before this one moves rightwards into Toss Up or even Leans GOP.

Elsewhere, NC8 went from Leans Dem to Toss Up; OH16 from Toss Up to Leans GOP; SD-AL from Toss Up to Leans GOP.

The GOP is now likely to pick up 24 seats and lose 3, giving them a net gain of 21. That’s 200 seats total. There are currently 35 toss-up races, of which the Republicans need to win 18 to get to the magic majority number of 218.

Of the toss-up races, the Democrats are defending 34 seats, the Republicans defend only one — IL10.

Divide by two, and you’ll see that the Republicans need to win exactly half of the toss-ups to win the House. The bettors at Intrade give the GOP a 55% chance of doing just that, up ten points in 12 weeks.

And on the other side of Capitol Hill? Not so rosy.

The GOP is defending in almost twice as many races as the Democrats. And they need to net ten seats to take the majority, since Vice President Joe Biden would be the tiebreaker vote in a 50/50 Senate. Is it possible? Yeah, sure, if every single up-for-grabs race breaks right. Is it likely? Not even close.

Still, the House is where all spending and taxing bill originate, which would — it’s to be hoped — put a brake on a decade’s worth of deficit spending.

UPDATE: Down in TX23, incumbent Democrat Ciro Rodriguez just got caught on video yelling at a constituent during a town hall. That’s another one you might want to shift from Leans Dem to Toss Up.

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