Handicapping the House — Weekend Brief
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Bueller wasn't talking about elections, of course, but he could have been talking about this one. Four days ago -- four! -- 19 races had moved since my last report, a dozen days prior. That report covered 22 races. Today, another 22 House races have shifted odds, for a total of 63 in two and a half weeks. There's been so much action, I stayed sober until nearly 4PM -- on a Saturday. The things I do for you people.
Anyway, here's the question: Is all this late-season movement unprecedented? I don't know, honestly. But I do know that in a typical election year, maybe half that many races are competitive, and maybe half of those actually change party.
Here's the view from above, going by Real Clear Politics poll averaging.
The Democrats have a lock on just 123 seats, down 9 in just these last four days. The GOP has a lock on 163, unchanged. Now, you might fairly ask why the GOP isn't generating any more safe races, if the Democrats are really so unpopular. Kids, the Republicans only hold 177 seats -- there just aren't any more safe seats for them to gain.
If the election were held today, the GOP would likely win 212 races, six shy of the magic 218. The Democrats would hold on to 183, which, by my calculations, is... way less.
The interesting action is in the middle column, the Toss-Up races. At first glance, things seem nearly unchanged, up one to 40 from 39. Look closer, and 11 races -- more than one in four -- have moved around in there. Five Democratic Leaners moved into the Toss Ups from the left; one Leans GOP moved in there from the right; two seats moved right into Leans GOP; and three very lucky Democrats moved out of the Tossers and into Leans Dem.
Did I mention all this took place in just four days?
If the Democrats still have a cash advantage, it's gone. Oh, they and their union pals could have a trillion dollars (hey -- they almost defrauded us out of that many already!), but there seems to be something going on to Democratic support that I can describe only as "catastrophic."
Four more Likely Democratic wins have been downgraded to Leans. And six more Safe seats -- the bedrock wins any party counts on to stay even remotely in the game -- six of those seats have moved right one spot. That's why you see Beloved Bill Clinton campaigning for Barney Frank and Loretta Sanchez -- who should both be shoo-ins. Meanwhile, Toxic Avenger Obama isn't doing much, if anything, for congressional Democrats. Obama got his party into this fix, and not even Clinton's still-considerable charms can get them out.
Long story short: There are now 107 seats at risk; 99 of them belong to Democrats.