The numbers made easy: How Republicans will likely take the House

posted at 4:07 pm on April 7, 2010 by Patrick Ishmael

Will the 2010 election be 2006 all over again? 1994? 1946? Whether races are classified as “Likely,” “Lean,” or “Toss-up,” the pros have lots of ways of hedging their bets, Congressional seat to Congressional seat.

Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what the electoral landscape will probably look like, based simply off of the predictors’ recent history. I’ll kick this discussion off with a 2006 article published in the Wall Street Journal:

For the House, the 1994 Cook Report listed 82 Democratic seats as competitive — more than double the 35 vulnerable Republican seats it sees today. Many of those 1994 districts were in the conservative South and had been redrawn to Republicans’ advantage after the 1990 census — “low-lying fruit,” in Mr. Fazio’s words, and “the biggest single reason” in Mr. Paxon’s view that Republicans were able to seize Congress.

Whether “competitive” includes seats that are considered “Likely Democrat” is unclear, but in terms of predicting who would control the House simply based on this track record, it wouldn’t matter: the result would be the same.

Let’s assume two separate 2010 scenerios: one that includes “Toss ups,” “Leans Democrat,” and seats already likely to go to the GOP, and another scenerio that also includes “Likely Democrat” in the mix. Let’s also assume that Cook’s success rate will be close to either his 1994 or 2006 predictions, keeping in mind Republicans need a net gain of 40 to capture the House.

This is what we get:

  • 1994: Net 54 Republican gains with 82 competitive Democrat seats (66%)
  • 2006: Net 31 Democrat gains with 35 competitive Republican seats (89%)
  • Toss up and Lean, 2010: Net 40 (66%) or Net 53 (89%) of 60 competitive Democrat seats
  • Toss up, Lean, and Likely, 2010: Net 63 (66%) or Net 85 (89%) of 95 competitive Democrat seats

The lowest end says the GOP barely takes the gavel in 2011. The highest end says the GOP takes the gavel… with a 91 seat majority. Let’s just say the latter outcome seems highly unlikely.

I bring up the Cook numbers not because they’re pure political Gospel, but because I think that it’s a lot easier to figure out how the GOP can get to 218 in the House than a lot of people let on. Could the GOP get 40 seats as Cook’s 1994 success rate suggest? Yes. Should “Toss-ups” really be understood as 50/50 races? History suggests they should not.

So let’s crunch some numbers.

I’ve aggregated what I believe are the latest predictions from The Cook Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Congressional Quarterly, and the Swing State Project. I’ve assigned numbers to each of the races they’ve rated and added an enthusiasm multiplier, which I’ll explain later. The scale is straightforward: Toss-ups are rated “0″, Leans rated “1″, Likelies rated “2″, and Solids rated “3.” Negative numbers mean, based on these four sources, a likely GOP seat takeover; positive numbers suggest better prospects for Democrats. Then, I took the average. As I’ve said in a prior similar posting, I’m no pro at this, but I think there’s a compelling argument to be made. Easy as 1-2-3. Or, rather, 80-60-40-20-10.

And so begins the raw data dump, sorted by my “enthusiasm multiplier” number. Don’t worry; a breakdown follows right after the chart:

And now, the breakdown. I’ve color-coded the seats to reflect what appears to be the consensus surrounding each House race. The “multiplier” is the Cook PVI assigned a numerical value, -3 to 3, which I’m using to simulate enhanced base turnout. (It affects the ordering only fractionally, but I think it reflects the real prospects of the coming election.) I’ll also note that the enthusiasm multiplier works against Democrats in Republican districts, but for Democrats in Democrat districts; whether enthusiasm is reflected evenly across the electorate remains to be seen, but insofar as it affects my ratings, it helps as much as it hurts Democrats, and perhaps helps too much.

I’ll lay each section out, in order, and leave to you the commenters as to whether the scenario I’m sketching out — a scenario I think is a pretty conservative one — makes a Republican House takeover seem likely. I think it does.

First, the most vulnerable Democratic seats

What becomes apparent in this first, most GOP-favorable grouping is that no seat is favored for Democrats, and many of the seats are currently “Open.” The reason? The former occupants generally believed they were toast if they stuck around, with a notable exception in Sestak. Note, too, what I’ve written in the last row: I think the GOP can win at least 80% of these seats. If they do, that’ll add 16 seats to their ranks.

Let’s move on.

This list includes all the seats that are considered less than, or including, “Leaning Democrat.” Fewer “Open” seats, but lots in Republican districts. Could Republicans take 60% of these? You be the judge. It’d net them 15 more, with any extras gravy. So far, we’re up to 31 seats.

The magic number is 40.

This is probably the key set if you’re a donor. Chet Davis won his district two years ago with just 53% of the vote. Ike Skelton is in for the race of his life. If the GOP can nab 5 of these 13 seats, they’d be on track to take the House; if they grabbed just a few more, it’s likely that races in the 60% and 80% categories are going even better for Republicans than I’ve set out here. This is likely the Democrats’ firewall. At this point, we’re 58 seats in.

By my count, we’re at 36 seats.

If the Republicans had to run against Heath Shuler 15 times, do you think they could win 20% of the time? If so, add 3. We’re at 39.

Upsets, anyone? If you think David Obey and Russ Carnahan are at least somewhat vulnerable, you may believe 10% of the Democrats similarly situated will lose their jobs in November. Two of these 24 leans to likely Democratic seats, and you’re at 41.

So what I’m saying is that of the 97 seats that are competitive enough to be worthy of mention by the prognosticators, I think that Republicans can win at least 41 of those seats (42%,) and probably more. There are a couple of seats that could flip on the Republican side, too, namely the Cao, Kirk, and Castle seats, so the GOP will probably have to offset those somehow.

That said, things are looking good for the GOP, as it’s pretty likely they’ll take the House this year. Frankly, dozen seat buffer is well within the realm of possibility.

Your thoughts? Is there someone on this list that you think is more or less vulnerable? Someone not on the list that should be? And seeing this list, what would be your strategy for donating to candidates if you were going to spread around your dollars? Comments welcome, dare I say requested.

Update: Wondering if your representative is on one of these lists? Hold CTRL-F to initiate the search function in your browser and just type the congressperson’s name or district in the dialog box (i.e., MO-3, VA-5, etc.)

Cross-posted at Repurblican and Capitol Tea

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Comments

It couldn’t happen to a ‘nicer lady’.

labrat on April 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I’m sticking with my > 70.

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Thanks for promoting this out of the Green Room.

OmahaConservative on April 7, 2010 at 4:17 PM

this is quite a post!

rob verdi on April 7, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Fantastic analysis.

DJ Tablesauce on April 7, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Thanks AP. For those wondering about the Capitol Tea references in the spreadsheets, I’m trying to develop a website (called “Capitol Tea”) that helps Tea Partiers direct their contributions to individual candidates for maximum net effect. It’d take the form of blog content but primarily as an interactive spreadsheet with challenger donation information etc. Biggest stumbling block is the programming of it all, so if you’re interested in participating or know someone who is, please contact me.

Repurblican on April 7, 2010 at 4:21 PM

“So let’s crunch some numbers.”

I’ll say…!

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Nice to see Tim Walz getting tossed out on his kiester in MN-1.

It’s probably a bridge too far to get rid of Keith Ellison in MN-5…

But if yer gonna dream, ya may-as-well dream big!

Bruno Strozek on April 7, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Don’t get too confident Republicans. You have to give the voters something to vote for, not just something to vote against. Give them the right message, the right principles, and the right character and you will win. But pride goeth before the fall. So don’t get too cocky.

texasconserv on April 7, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Can someone please keep reminding the Republicans that they can still screw this up?

Self centered greed and power grabbing has screwed them up in the past and this is too important to let that happen again.

Hening on April 7, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I went to a town hall meeting today with our Republican Congressman. People there were pissed over the socialist takeover in DC, and methods of rolling it back were discussed. He is predicting 60-100 house seats won this November with a very dangerous lame-duck session to follow.

farright on April 7, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I was told there would be no math.

Abby Adams on April 7, 2010 at 4:31 PM

He is predicting 60-100 house seats won this November with a very dangerous lame-duck session to follow.

farright on April 7, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Sen Menendez of NJ is talking about ramming Shamnesty through during the lame duck session. The lame ducks will all vote for it, according to him, because they won’t have to answer to the voters any longer.

Wethal on April 7, 2010 at 4:33 PM

CA-20 Costa will lose.

The Valley isn’t happy with respect to water

caddis on April 7, 2010 at 4:38 PM

My brain hurts.

Akzed on April 7, 2010 at 4:40 PM

What is the breakout for incumbents? Regardless of party affiliation, how many of the ‘inside the beltway’ morons are going to be kicked out?

percysunshine on April 7, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Wow, very very nice work.

Midas on April 7, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Sen Menendez of NJ is talking about ramming Shamnesty through during the lame duck session. The lame ducks will all vote for it, according to him, because they won’t have to answer to the voters any longer.

Wethal on April 7, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Exactly, that I believe is the Democrat plan. Shamnesty, cap-n-tax and whatever other lib wet dreams they can’t pass between now and November.

farright on April 7, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I’m hoping for change.

Mojave Mark on April 7, 2010 at 4:48 PM

President F-bama screws his party more than America!

chickasaw42 on April 7, 2010 at 4:48 PM

This is fantastic. I can shed some light on Pennsylvania where a number of vulnerable seats are up for grabs. Democrats are already counting on losing Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney. There is a growing feud among PA House Reps over a recent vote to give my sorry Congressman Patrick Murphy a shot at Murtha\’s Appropriations seat. They are doing all they can to save Murphy though. I wonder if Carney is still pleased with himself for voting for health care. He got a quick tour of the underside of the bus carriage for his vote.

msmveritas on April 7, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Call me a skeptic but I have concerns over extensive voter fraud in the 2010 mid-term and especially 2012 presidential elections that will clearly not favor the Republicans.

glennbo on April 7, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Will this, like, be on the test?

Lily on April 7, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Net 60 is probably the correct under/over…

We The People are pissed like none other in my 45 years…

phreshone on April 7, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Wethal… that’s what I thought about ObamaCare 2 months ago… They have gone full jeehod since then… stacking the bench will be for the lame duck session…

phreshone on April 7, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Come November…I think there’s going to be an @SS pounding to the Dems.

b1jetmech on April 7, 2010 at 5:14 PM

I will not be surprised if the GOP takes almost a 2/3 majority in the house.

b1jetmech on April 7, 2010 at 5:15 PM

The stage is set for a massive pendulum swing back to the Republican side…let’s hope they do a better job than their Dem counterparts did in the same situation.

Dark-Star on April 7, 2010 at 5:18 PM

A poll released for my district (IL-11) has the Challenger, Adam Kinsinger leading Halvorson by 10 points, and you only have that in your 20% category. Halvorson may look stronger than she really is because of her large margin of victory in ’06, but she was running against a poor candidate who was selected by the GOP after the primary winner withdrew from the race. I think Kinsinger will smoke her.

BTW, his web site is http://www.electadam.com

SeeBS on April 7, 2010 at 5:29 PM

The stage is set for a massive pendulum swing back to the Republican side…let’s hope they do a better job than their Dem counterparts did in the same situation.

They will have to. Undoing the damage is much harder. The political equivalent of Ginger Rogers having to do it all backwards in heels.

DanMan on April 7, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Didn’t see TX18 – Sheela Jackson Lee.. John Faulk is running to unseat her and needs all the help he can get.. This is the most jerrymandered district in Texas I believe..

Zippy_Slug on April 7, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Wow – thank you for doing this, it’s really impressive!!!

Stephanie on April 7, 2010 at 5:48 PM

The over/under will be at least 60. America is pissed and w/o Mr. Soetoro on the ballot, the Dems will have a very hard time getting the inner city folk and the college kids to the polls. Senior citizens aren’t stupid. They know exactly what this health bill will do to their care and they vote big time. Add to that a very fired up Rep base. And remember to spread the word to your democrat friends (if you aren’t smart enough to not associate with those types) that they better get to the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3rd. :)

pghpat26 on April 7, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Didn’t see TX18 – Sheela Jackson Lee.. John Faulk is running to unseat her and needs all the help he can get.. This is the most jerrymandered district in Texas I believe..

Zippy_Slug on April 7, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Have a look just to the south at TX-9, the snake district. I used to live there – literally a city street wide for miles, just to connect certain neighborhoods.

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2010 at 6:29 PM

They should go for broke. VETO PROOF MAJORITY.

Iblis on April 7, 2010 at 6:37 PM

“Is there someone on this list that you think is more or less vulnerable … Comments welcome, dare I say requested.”

Yeah, Repurblican, I was surprised to see Dan Maffei (NY-25) way down in the Capitol Tea 10% group. I see that Cook has it D+3 and I don’t know that basis for that rating, but that’s misleading as it’s pretty traditional Republican seat for the region delineated as the 25th currently that area. Walsh held it even through the 2006 trouncing and Maffei rode the Obama wave in 2008. That wave has come and gone and so will Maffei come November.

The NY-25th ought to at least be in the Tea 80% group.

Dusty on April 7, 2010 at 6:49 PM

1946, once Truman said he was going to continue FDR’s socialism, the fate of the mid term elections were sealed — Democrats lost in a historic blow out election.

tarpon on April 7, 2010 at 6:57 PM

Click here to see another major difference between now and 1994. We have a lot more factors like that in our favor that weren’t as big in 1994. That’s allowing the focus and pressure to be put on more democrats who would ordinarily be safe.

dnlchisholm on April 7, 2010 at 7:39 PM

The best candidate to take on Ike Skelton in MO-4 is Vicky Hartzler. She’s a true anti-tax constitutional conservative and will bring energy and vitality to the congressional role. Spike Ike! Vote Vicky in 2010!

http://www.vickyhartzler.com

alwaysfiredup on April 7, 2010 at 8:01 PM

I don’t see Congressman Dan Boren (OK-2) who is the last democratic legislator from Oklahoma left… While OK-2 does tend to trend democratic, I’d say that the atmosphere in OK makes it more likely that he’d be getting the boot this year.

Tremor on April 7, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Thanks for the number crunching.

Now for the hard part: let’s hit the pavement folks. Nancy Pelosi isn’t firing herself.

Get on the phones!

If you’re in a competitive district, knock doors.

If you’re in a red district, make sure it stays red.

If you’re in a non-competitive blue district, see if you can’t work outside of your district.

We need personal effort folks.

Chaz706 on April 7, 2010 at 8:05 PM

Didn’t see TX18 – Sheela Jackson Lee.. John Faulk is running to unseat her and needs all the help he can get.. This is the most jerrymandered district in Texas I believe..

Zippy_Slug on April 7, 2010 at 5:45 PM

The population of this heavily Democratic district is 56.5% AA, 15% Hispanic, and 21.4% Caucasian. Unfortunately, she’ll keep her seat.

redridinghood on April 7, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Plus Chaz, we need to be watchful for the trickery and voter fraud that is typical of the dems. Like right here in Wisconsin.
Remember, they are not going to go easily. But they WILL GO!

Sterling Holobyte on April 8, 2010 at 12:07 AM

Here in IN-2, Joe Donnelly is a vile, Obama-fellating pustule that should be ripe for beating like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. Unfortunately, South Bend is full of incredibly stupid Democrats who don’t even bother to know who they are voting for. They just pull the lever for the (D) no matter what. The key is to get those Republicans outside of South Bend (and those few in the city) to show up at the polls. This year is their best opportunity. Donnelly said he wouldn’t vote for Obamacare, then did, the filthy, lying scum. This alledged Catholic, who unfortunately is in my parish, voted to kill the unborn with my tax dollars. It will be all I can do not to shove his stinking head in the holy water font and hold it there next time I see his nasty, miserable a$$ in church.
Note: I never said I was a good Catholic. Guess I’m a little too “old testament”.

SKYFOX on April 19, 2010 at 4:12 PM