The 20 House races you should be watching
posted at 10:04 pm on October 4, 2012 by Patrick Ishmael
Two years ago I did a projection of how many seats Republicans would net in the 2010 general election. The experiment turned out… pretty well. So I decided to dive back into the numbers. This time, the map of possible flipped seats is a bit smaller, and of those, a majority are held by Republicans.
But while Republicans have greater exposure this year, that doesn’t mean they’re destined to bear the majority of the losses. A month out from the election, the number of net seats changing hands is roughly somewhere between +3 GOP and +1 Democrat. These numbers can and will shift as micro- and macro-political events evolve, but the fact is there’s a real chance that Republicans could actually add seats in the House.
Whether Republicans do make gains will depend in no small part on these 20 races.
The bad news? A majority of these twenty races constitute what is effectively an exposed Republican seat.
The good news? First, Republicans hold a 3 seat advantage in races that fall outside these 20 most competitive races; by my count, 9 seats are primed to be flipped by Republicans, compared to 6 seats for the Democrats. I’m comfortable saying this because in 2010, when races ended up outside the 57%-43% band, the seats very rarely changed hands. Republicans, then, start off with a roughly 3 seat advantage before we get to these 20 races.
Second, while Republican exposure is higher among these 20 seats, the risk of losing individual seats is not necessarily very high. Republicans can expect to win a supermajority of the races rated 57% and 53%, half the races at 50%, but much less than half the races rated below 50%. Why does this matter? Democrats have already started to cut their ad buys in races that may be moving out of their reach at the top of the chart; assuming GOP groups have the capital and studied confidence to do it, there’s lots of upside to shifting resources from races at the top of this list to the bottom, reasonably and responsibly done. There are many very vulnerable, but very, very winnable, Republican seats at the bottom of this list and up through the safer section of the list. A strategic pivot may be in order to support them, assuming such a pivot isn’t already underway.
Will these races shift? Absolutely, and the GOP can’t get complacent. But just in case you didn’t know, I wanted to make clear that Republicans are well positioned to achieve better than a draw from the coming Congressional election. That would be something. It will be interesting to see how the GOP plays its cards.
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