Handicapping the House - Quick & Dirty Edition

Wasn’t going to do this until Sunday, but so much has happened in the last few days that I’ll make time this morning to give you the raw numbers. As of Saturday morning, RCP’s poll averaging now gives the GOP 220 seats, 178 for the Democrats, and 37 remain too close to call. This is the first time either side has polled the Magic 218 or better all year.

Let’s look at the movers since last week.

Not many seat moved to the left, but here they are.

PA17 – Leans Dem to Likely Dem
NY24 – Toss Up to Leans Dem
MI07 – Leans GOP to Toss Up
AZ03 – Likely GOP to Leans GOP

And that’s it. All the others — and there are lots of others — moved right.

KS3 – Leans GOP to Likely GOP (There’s not going to be a blue seat left in Kansas)

AZ07 – Likely Dem to Leans Dem to Toss Up
IA01 – Leans Dem to Toss Up
IL10 – Leans Dem to Toss Up
OR05 – Leans Dem to Toss Up
TN04 – Leans Dem to Toss Up
WA02 – Leans Dem to Toss Up

MN08 – Likely Dem to Leans Dem
TX27 – Likely Dem to Leans Dem

And this next group is the really worrisome one — if you’re Nancy Pelosi…

CA11 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
IL14 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
IL17 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
IN09 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
FL02 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
FL22 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
OH18 – Toss Up to Leans GOP
SD01 – Toss Up to Leans GOP

The Senate now breaks 51/49 for the Democrats. The Dems need to hold West Virginia and their entire West Coast Firewall — and they seem likely to do just that. But an eight-seat gain is nothing to sneeze at.

And I’ll give you my final thoughts now on Christine O’Donnell. Is she a lousy candidate? Yes — did you see that “I’m not a witch” ad? Would the GOP be in a significantly better position to win the Senate had she lost her primary fight against Mike Castle? Yes — about 50% better odds. Does that mean the Tea Party is made up of dreamy-eyed political amateurs who keep picking questionable candidates? Yes — guilty on both of those charges, too.

But — and this is a big butt — that reckless Tea Party enthusiasm is precisely why the GOP stands to gain 50 or more seats in the House and eight in the Senate. And if you’re so certain that the traditional GOP is so good at picking candidates, just cover yours ears and shout “lalalalalalalalala” while I name-drop Bob Dole and John McCain and pretty much anybody wearing the GOP label most anywhere on the Left Coast the last 20 years. I could go on.

We all make mistakes, especially on election day. And for a young movement, the Tea Party has shown some remarkably solid judgement. But the real proof comes on November 2, and if they can really do the down and dirty GOTV stuff to win bigger than the margin of cheating — because that’s the only way for Republicans to reach 218.