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Handicapping the House

The biggest loser this week is two-term Democrat incumbent Jim Marshall in Georgia's Eighth District. In the space of one week, GA08 has shifted from Likely Dem to a Toss Up. And the Cook PVI is R+10, so if Marshall really has lost -- for whatever reason -- the advantages of incumbency, I'd feel pretty comfortable putting twenty bucks even money on GOP challenger Austin Scott.

Three races moved one step right from Likely Dem to Leans Dem. That's GA02, IL17 and NY25. You might know GA02 from the antics of Hank "Capsizing Guam" Johnson. I got to speak to his opponent, Liz Carter, on PJTV a couple weeks ago. If anyone can "Yank Hank" in a heavily-Democratic district, she can. The other two districts might be tougher nuts to crack, since their current congressmen don't seem to be overmedicated crazy persons. Although NY25 has a freshman Democrat, Dan Maffei, up against the credible and attractive Ann Marie Buerkle. But Buerkle has a name-recognition deficit.

Or is that an asset this year?

Next, we get to the dozen races where the Democrats need to worry -- er, the most recent dozen.

Six races have narrowed from Leans Dem to Toss Up: IL14, NC11, NY20, OR05, PA10, TX23. Let's start with TX23, because I know this race pretty well. I interviewed GOP challenger Francisco Canseco in July, and he's everything Ciro Rodriguez isn't -- charming, fun, and he doesn't throw temper tantrums when people ask him questions. We've talked before about NC11, currently held by former quarterback Heath Shuler. He's been up and down in the polls, but this is the first time that Republican Jeff Miller has pulled even in the polls. But Miller is short on money -- hint, hint.

OR05 hasn't sent a Republican to DC since Jim Bunn rode the '94 wave -- and was promptly brought home after just one term. Nevertheless, the GOP thinks this one is winnable and is putting resources into Scott Bruun's campaign.