With Labor Day now in the history books, the political season starts in earnest. Therefore, a look at House races is in order. Using a variety of polling data, it becomes increasingly clear that Republicans will make substantial gains this November. While many professional sites put the House closely in Republican hands, I looked at recent polling data in competitive districts and certain open seats. Unfortunately, I could locate no real good polling data in New York Congressional districts. However, most of these professional sites predict a net 3 seat Republican pick-up in New York and I defer to those professionals. Hence, overall, I predict a minimum Republican pick up of 45 seats in the House.
I then divided the remaining competitive races into 10 categories for closer analysis and looked at previous election cycle voting patterns within that district with respect to the individual seeking re-election (a gauge of their personal popularity within that district) and voting behavior for the Party in power within that district by looking at Presidential voting behavior patterns. In the first category- incumbent Democrats with big leads in polls- there are 21 candidates. They average a 10.2 lead in current polls while in 2008, they won by an average of 24 percentage points. However, the trouble for some of these incumbents is threefold. First, voting behavior in these districts averaged a 1.2 advantage for McCain over Obama, with eight of the districts favoring McCain by more than 10 points. Secondly, in 16 of the 21 districts, there are Senate and/or Governor races this election year also. Third, of the 16 affected districts, Republican Senatorial candidates lead in 14 of those areas (the exceptions being Connecticut and Oregon). Assuming some top-down party line voting behavior, it appears that at least three Democratic incumbents can be placed in the vulnerable class- Bobby Bright in Alabama. Ron Klein in Florida, and Jim Marshall in Georgia. Additionally, several are leading, but not by great amounts- Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Ike Skelton in Missouri, Heath Schuler in North Carolina, Betty Sutton in Ohio, and Tim Holden in Pennsylvania. If Republicans play their cards right and some party line voting behavior prevails, this represents another potential eight seats for Republicans. Hence, under this scenario, Republicans pick up 53 seats.
The second category is Republican incumbents which Democrats have targeted as very vulnerable. There are eight seats in this category. Unfortunaely for the Democrats, targeted Republicans lead by an average 17.1 points in the most recent polls, have won by an average 13 points in 2008, and McCain won these distrcits by an average 3.9 points in 2008. Worse news for the Democrats is that in six of these districts, there are Senatorial campaigns where the Republican candidate is leading in the polls- Alaska, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Hence, Republicans will retain all these targeted districts.
In projected open competitive Democratic districts, giving the benefit of the doubt to the Party in power, Democrats should retain the seat although it is not a given- West Virginia’s 1st- because McCain won that district by 15 points in 2008. The fourth category- alleged competitive Republican open seats- the Republican candidate leads by an average 26 points, the Republican Party won by an average 33.3 points in 2008, and McCain won by an average 27.3 points in 2008.
In Category 5- Democratic incumbents currently behind in the polls- Republicans lead by an average 9.5 percentage points. They won in 2008 by an average of 11.3 points, but McCain also captured those districts by an average 1.8 points (with two of those districts- Texas’ 17th and Maryland’s 1st- being double digit McCain wins). Worse for Democrats, there are Senate campaigns in 13 of the 16 districts with Republicans leading in 11 of those 13 districts. The exceptions are Kratovil in Maryland currently trailing by 8 points in a district that went to McCain by 18 points and one that he barely won in 2008, Schauer in Michigan who won by only two points in Michigan, Edwards in Texas who won by 7 points in 2008 in a district that favored McCain by 35 points, and Perriello in Virginia who trails by 15.8 points in the polls in a district with a razor thin victory margin in 2008 and which favored McCain by three points. Conversely, in category 6- Republican incumbents who should lose- there is only one candidate: Anh Cao in Louisiana.
Category 7 is competitive open Democratic seats that they should lose. Here, Republicans lead by an average 9.3 points and favored Obama by less than one point in 2008. Again the problem for Democrats is that the outgoing incumbents were popular within their district winning by an average 40.4 percentage points in 2008. On the other hand, open Republican seats slated for loss number only two- the Delaware at large seat and Illinois’ 10th district- where the outgoing Republican Congressman in both districts are seaking Senate seats (Mike Castle and Mark Kirk) and lead in their respective polls. All-in-all, not a bad trade off.
There are currently 19 seats in Democratic districts where Republicans lead by an average of 2.1 points. As far as popularity in their districts, they won in 2008 by an average of 11.4 points and favored Obama over McCain by a mere 0.2 points on average. Finally, there are five Democratic districts where Democratic incumbents currently lead by an average 2.1 points, won by an average of 13 points in 2008 and favored Obama by only one point on average over McCain. These represent five additional Republican pick-ups and in two of the races, they are virtual ties- Baron Hill in Indiana and Dana Titus in Nevada. The three other vulnerable seats are Loretta Sanchez (California’s 47th- leading by 2 points, but in a McCain-won district), Larry Kissell (North Carolina’s 8th- leading by 4.5 points in a district that favored Obama by only 5 points), and Zach Space (Ohio’s 18th- leading by 4 points in a district that favored McCain by 8 points).
It basically boils down to a Republican pick-up of a minimum of 43 seats, but most likely 46 relying on the New York professional projections. Throw in the five districts where Democratic incumbents barely lead- all of which have Senate campaigns- and it is a potential 51 Republican seat pick-up. Finally, take those nine Democratic incumbent seats where they have larger leads, but where Senatorial campaigns in those states and/or previous voting patterns predict a shift in power this year, and Republicans are up to 60 seats. Accounting for polling areas and potential unforeseen circumstances within the districts, I am currently predicting a 53-seat Republican pick-up in the House in 2010. This would give the Republican Party a 231-204 majority in the House. Along with my previous predictions, the Democrats would retain control of the Senate 51-49, and have a 32-18 majority among Governors.
Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but for 2012 this bodes terribly for Obama. In Senate races that year, Democrats have to defend 21 seats compared to 10 Republican seats. In those 10 Republican states, all but possibly two or three seats are vulnerable while among Democrats, seven could be considered vulnerable. Assuming Republicans retain the House in 2012 and pick up four seats in the Senate, Obama, should he win in 2012, would be powerless and would have to tack to the center, like Clinton, if he doesn’t get the message in 2010. What does it all prove? That America rejects the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama and that all the rhetoric in the world from the Oval Office will not change anything.