Handicapping the House
It's time again for another installment of VodkaPundit's semi-occasional Handicapping the House series. Lots of movement since we did the last one, about four weeks ago -- most of it to the left. Let's take a look.
As things stand today, the House is virtually tied -- the Democrats would likely win 202 seats if the election were held today, the GOP 201. The remainder are just too close to call. What's interesting is that out of 254 seats the Democrats now hold, only 149 are virtual locks. The GOP has a lock on all but ten of its 178 seats.
On the GOP side, there was zero movement, zilch. Not one Republican-held seat moved in either direction. Nobody firmed up in the polls, nobody got any softer. All the action was in the blue seats.
Six Democrats are looking slightly stronger. In GA2, John Barrow went from a Likely win to Safe. Honestly, this seat was never really in play. The district was redrawn a few years ago (much to the dismay of former GOP seat-holder Max Burns) to include more minorities and Democrats.
Two Toss-Up races now Lean Dem. Keep an eye on IA03. Supposed-Blue Dog Dem Leonard Boswell looks pretty secure -- he won 56% of the vote in '08. But his votes in favor of Porkulus, Cap & Tax and Obamacare could make him vulnerable. ID01 should be a gimme for the GOP. Big turnout in '08 gave Walt Minnick a razor-thin win in a traditionally-GOP region that went almost two-to-one in favor of McCain-Palin.
Republican Jerry Weller retired after seven terms representing IL11, and Democrat Debbie Halvorson won big. She's moved out of the Leans GOP column and into the toss up category. Same goes for Larry Kissell in NC08, who won by a better-than-expected margin last time around, and whose vote against Obamacare might buy him some protection.
And four Democrats are looking a little weaker since the last report.
NC07's Mike McIntyre was supposed to have a Safe seat this year, but RCP's poll averaging now shows him with "only" a Likely win. Guy's been in office since 1997, and went against TARP -- he'll get reelected.
Former quarterback Heath Shuler is all over the place in NC11. In just a month, he's gone from Leans Dem to Likely Dem then back to Leans Dem. He's socially conservative and voted against Porkulus and Obamacare. This seat's probably safe for the Democrats.
KY06 incumbent Ben Chandler beat the Bush Surge in '04 to win his seat. He's fairly socially-conservative, but has voted in lockstep with his party on everything but Obamacare. A credible GOP candidate should be able to take this one, as Chandler goes from Likely to Leans to… Oblivion, perhaps.
Lastly, NM01 had never elected a Democrat, but Martin Heinrich won pretty handily against GOP sheriff Darren White. He's now in the Toss Up column, right one space from Leans Dem. But the region has been trending blue, and a couple years ago, The Hill selected Heinrich as the hottest person on Capital Hill. Might be enough to keep the seat.
Put it all together, and the situation going into November looks like this: Americans are sick of the Democrats already, but aren't yet ready to trust the GOP again. And what I'm seeing out of the Washington crowd makes me think that the Republicans are counting almost exclusively on the former and ignoring the latter -- to their own, great peril.
UPDATE: On Twitter, Nathan Wurtzel tells me that the latest SUSA poll shows Heinrich trailing by six points in NM01 to Jon Berela, who's passed the magic 50% threshold. And NC11 is a tie. I think Cap & Tax has literally everybody in Appalachia spooked, and a Wurtzel rightly notes, Obama's support has "collapsed" in the Rocky Mountain West.