Handicapping the House

Lots of movement in the three weeks since we last did this. Twelve seats shifted position, ten of them from left to right. But first, the big picture.

Using RCP’s poll averaging, if the election were held to day (and don’t you just have to love that caveat), the Democrats would have a lock on 193 seats of their current 255-seat majority, including three pickups from the GOP side of the aisle. The GOP would start with 205 seats, up from their current 178 seats, and I’ll let you do (and awe at) the math yourselves. In the middle are 37 seats in the Toss Up category. 36 of them currently belong to Democrats.


What that means is, the Dems are playing defense in 114 races, while the GOP has to defend the hides of …wait for it… a grand total of 16 Congresscritters. Meanwhile, the GOP would seem to be only 13 wins away from that magical 218 majority number.

How’s that Democratic money advantage looking? Still ever-so-advantageous? Not quite, or at least that’s the view from here.

OK, on to the action, where the view is a little more muddled than I might have just indicated.

Moving right to left are NV03 and South Dakota’s at-large single district. In NV03, Dina Titus is one of those freshmen Democrats swept in on the Obama Wave in 2008. The district itself is probably still more red than blue, and like the rest of the state has a terrible problem with unemployment. Her opponent, Republican Joe Heck, is one of those citizen-candidates we all love so much — “soldier, physician, father” — hasn’t gained quite enough traction. This is one to watch, and I’ll going to see if I can get him on Coast to Coast Tea Party before the election.

South Dakota will be a tougher nut to crack. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is a solidly Blue Dog Dem, and voted against Obamacare. That ought to provide her with some protection against challenger Kristi Noem. The polls are tight, but Noem has never been ahead.


(By the way, the Washington Post seems to have taken down members’ voting records. All their own links go to a custom 404 Error page. Nice, eh?)

Now for the ten seats moving right.

First, the surprise. NC04, represented since 1997 by Democrat David Price, is down to Likely Dem from Safe. Races like these explain why the money advantage won’t matter as much as the Democrats would like you to think. GOPer B.J. Lawson doesn’t have much of a web presence or money, and yet is making some small progress against Price. In the last election, Price defeated Lawson nearly 2-1.

CA47 should be a safe seat, and if memory serves, it was just a couple months ago. But it’s slipped again, from Likely Dem to Leans Dem. Also in that category are KY03, ME01, ME02, and WA02. All these races (along with 22 others) are places where the Democrats will have to commit resources they’d much rather spend on those 37 Toss Up seats.

Two more races have moved to the center. Last time around, IL17 and WI08 were both leaning Democratic. Now they’re toss ups.

Michigan continues to enredden, as MI01 (that’s the god & guns district at the top of the state) goes from a Toss Up to a GOP leaner.

And WA08 is now a likely GOP win, over from Leans GOP. There’s one race where the Democrats can probably just put their wallet away and wave the white flag.


So what we’re seeing is a continuation of the trend that started in April, when we began this series: Democratic control is slip, sliding away, but the GOP has yet to seal the deal with enough voters to be feeling at all comfortable. (Although how anyone could feel comfortable saying “Speaker Boehner” is beyond me.)

The numbers look awful for the Dems, but they aren’t great for the GOP. This thing will turn out on turn out, so bring a friend or two when you vote.


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