If these trends continue, Republicans could gain 60 seats in the House
posted at 11:48 pm on September 9, 2010 by Patrick Ishmael
Since April, I’ve been predicting a House GOP pick-up in the low 50s. Subsequent months of data seemed to strenghthen the likelihood of a 52-seat-or-so outcome without greatly expanding the field of Democratic representatives at genuine risk, but only recently has the direness of the party’s electoral predicament really crystallized. In all, a remarkably high number of Democratic seats — 118 to be exact — are now, in one way or another, in play. Forty-four seats are now pure toss-ups or worse.
The last month has been particularly bad for Democrats. From April to August, the average rating (solid/likely/lean/tossup) of Democratic seats steadily moved downward in my survey; even so, August to September turned out to be worse than all previous months combined.
While I don’t think future declines will accelerate exactly quite as much as the August to September period, I do think that Democrat fortunes will continue to fall at a more modest rate for the remaining two months of the campaign season. Thus, assuming declines roughly equal to the declines in those first months and distributing them evenly to all of the races, and Democrats are looking at 52 seats that are just toss-ups or worse on election day. From seat 53 to seat 78, pretty much anything can happen, as all are between the toss-up and lean Democrat categories. Seat 79, currently Dan Maffei’s NY-25, looks to be the high end of GOP gains. However, assuming the GOP wins a third of those intervening seats, the math is pretty straightforward: about 60 new GOP seats.
This all assumes some pretty fierce wave action, which I think is reasonable to believe will happen. Moreover, the 60 most vulnerable seats listed are simply the most likely to me to flip; given the countless factors at the macro and micro levels, the actual list of 60 flipped seats will be different. Regardless of the particular Ws and Ls, the seismic political impact would be the same.
Here’s the data graphically. The first graph is sorted by congressional seat, worst score to best; the second, by monthly raw score, regardless of congressional seat.
Below is the complete list of House seats, most vulnerable to least. Press CTRL-F to search for the seats you’re interested in.
|15||SD-AL||Stephanie Herseth Sandlin|
|19||WV-1||Alan B. Mollohan|
|22||OH-15||Mary Jo Kilroy|
|84||GA-2||Sanford Bishop, Jr.|
|114||MA-6||John F. Tierney|
|115||NM-3||Ben R. Luján|
Update: Numbers guy Nate Silver weighs in today with what I believe is his first House prediction. Worth a read, but to sum his findings: it’s very likely that the GOP will take the House, and there’s a one-in-four chance that it takes 60+ seats. My obvious suspicion is that his “60+” probability will be revised up later, but we shall see.