Green Room

The Twenty House Races You Should Be Watching

posted at 9:23 pm on October 2, 2012 by

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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Interesting….I was looking for info on the House races and projections.

changer1701 on October 2, 2012 at 10:32 PM

I thought NY-01 with Altschuler and Bishop was at worst 50/50 for us?

Whats a Seawolf on October 2, 2012 at 10:37 PM

Who says Dan Lundgren is a Republican? RINO, yes. Republican, NO!

CrazyGene on October 2, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Keep your eye on Anna Little in NJ 6. She has a real shot at beating Frank Pallone, who may have profited personally when a BRAC that he never fought moved jobs to MD.

njcommuter on October 3, 2012 at 1:46 AM

Keep your eye on Anna Little in NJ 6. She has a real shot at beating Frank Pallone, who may have profited personally when a BRAC that he never fought moved jobs to MD.

njcommuter on October 3, 2012 at 1:46 AM

That’s actually the most difficult seat on this list to handicap. Potentially a very volatile race.

Patrick Ishmael on October 3, 2012 at 8:15 AM

South Carolina is guaranteed to add a new GOP seat. North Carolina should give us +3, if not +5.

Also, what about Mia Love? Is she running in a new district for Utah? I thought it was just a redrawn district.

SouthernGent on October 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

How about WI-7 and WI-8?

Mr. D on October 3, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Keep your eye on Anna Little in NJ 6. She has a real shot at beating Frank Pallone, who may have profited personally when a BRAC that he never fought moved jobs to MD.

njcommuter on October 3, 2012 at 1:46 AM

That’s actually the most difficult seat on this list to handicap. Potentially a very volatile race.

Patrick Ishmael on October 3, 2012 at 8:15 AM

Having been thoroughly disgusted by the partisan slant of the Star-Ledger recently, and the past two Sundays in particular, I’m not so confident Pallone would be knocked off. There’s too many low information voters that support Pallone. The guy is a criminal and scumbag personally. We can’t even drive a stake through Menendez for pete’s sake. Christie needs to come out bigtime for Little. I just haven’t seen it.

smfic on October 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM

The embedded Roll Call article is interesting. RCP has West-Murphy race a toss up, but they have it Leans GOP.

SoFlaCon on October 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Patrick, what are your thoughts on Mia Love’s chances?

commodore on October 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I live in Nan Hayworth’s district, right now it’s closer to a tie according to a little birdie from her campaign who told me about their recent internal polling.

Also, what about Mia Love? Is she running in a new district for Utah? I thought it was just a redrawn district.

SouthernGent on October 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I think this is more of a focus on races that are very close to 50%, whereas it’s looks increasingly by the day that Mia’s race is more of a slam dunk.

Liberty 5-3001 on October 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM

RI-1′s David Cicilline is a very vulnerable Dem.

Pablo on October 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

I don’t particularly like Dan Lungren, but he is about as good a Republican as can be elected in California. He is certainly a better person to have in Congress than that dentist, Dr Bera, who is just another Bay Area progressive. Too many of them in Congress already.

J Baustian on October 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Watch Sean Bialat, running against an inexperienced Kennedy family grandchild.

This is for the redistricted former Barney Frank district which now has more suburban voters, who voted for Scott Brown in the past when he was at the State House.

http://www.seanforcongress.com/meet_sean

Fleuries on October 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM

This also suggests Mitt Romney is winning the POTUS election.

Is it really likely that a whole bunch of people in swing districts are going to vote for their local Repub, but also for President Downgrade IncomeDecline JobLoss McFoodstamp?

A repeat of the 2010 House election means Romney wins. Better than 2010 means it isn’t close.

TallDave on October 3, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Anna Little could win in NJ-6.

The way I figure it, Democrats in New Jersey are going to be fat-n-happy, because they are confident that Obama, Menendez and Pallone are going to cruise to victory. Anna Little voters, OTOH, are going to be willing to crawl across broken glass to vote against all three of these guys, even if they think the race is out of reach.

Election Day is about who shows up. Anna’s Army is going to show up.

Haiku Guy on October 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM

WA 01, which was Dem before Jay Inslee quit. Seems like a reasonable chance for an R pickup.

AndrewsDad on October 3, 2012 at 11:59 AM

This table would be a LOT more informative if you indicated the party of the incumbent Representative, to decide whether these seats are possible pickups (for a D incumbent) or possible losses or holds (for an R incumbent).

Steve Z on October 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Patrick,
Can you speak to the effect of Redistricting? Do you think that Republicans gain any advantage from the newly drawn districts?

ITguy on October 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Patrick,
Can you speak to the effect of Redistricting? Do you think that Republicans gain any advantage from the newly drawn districts?

ITguy on October 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

I think they’ve secured the advantages they gained in 2010 through smart redistricting, which is a big deal for the next decade. 2012 is the first test of those redrawn lines, and if the House ends up not really moving back toward Democrats, Democrats are going to have real problems shaking those seats free again for some years.

Patrick Ishmael on October 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Patrick, what are your thoughts on Mia Love’s chances?

commodore on October 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Very good. Leading in a state very interested in the R side of the Presidential race and has lots of national support driven by her star power. Assuming the trajectory holds, she’ll be the next rep in UT-4.

Patrick Ishmael on October 3, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Watch out for Rep. Buerkle in NY-24. It’s a D+4 district, and the conventional wisdom has been that Buerkle is doomed. Only the court-drawn map is limiting it to D+4, while even NY Republicans were willing to toss her aside into a D+7 oblivion.

Her opponent, the clod she beat in 2010 is doing his best to throw away his chances. He’s released an embarrassingly trollish ad using Akin to claim falsely that Buerkle wants to redefine rape. He’s under fire for it from even our own lefty local press, but not backing down. Buerkle meanwhile has been a counselor to rape victims for years, and is able to counter this from a strong position.

On top of all that Buerkle has been very close to Syracuse voters, friendly with working-class, typically Dem-leaning union voters. It’s a powerful contrast to Maffei’s disconnected appearance, and willingness to ignore voters when he was in office (particularly that one August when Democrats nationwide were getting reamed out in townhall appearances over Obamacare until they knew enough to start avoiding them altogether.)

Gingotts on October 4, 2012 at 12:47 AM

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Allahpundit on October 5, 2012 at 1:44 AM