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Retirements: An Early Reading On The 2012 House Race

Frankly, Barney, You Would Not Be In Charge next Session Anyway.

I assume that polling for Congressional races one year before they occur has little predicative power in races for perennially competitive seats. Thus, the Generic Congressional Vote numbers will probably offer little perspicacity between now and next Summer. Like an investor who tracks what corporate insiders do prior to investing or divesting in a stock, I find the recent trend of retirements in the House to be a potentially useful indicator.

According to The Hill.com, we have the following statistics regarding Congressional Retirements:

Pure retirements (Dems)

Dan Boren (Okla.)
Dale Kildee (Mich.)
Lynn Woolsey (Calif.)
Mike Ross (Ark.)
Jerry Costello (Ill.)
Dennis Cardoza (Calif.)
John Olver (Mass.)
Charlie Gonzalez (Texas)
Barney Frank (Mass.)

Running for another office (Dems)

Jay Inslee (Washington governor)
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin Senate)
Shelley Berkley (Nevada Senate)
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii Senate)
Chris Murphy (Connecticut Senate)
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico Senate)
Joe Donnelly (Indiana Senate)
Bob Filner (San Diego Mayor)

Running for another office (GOP)
Todd Akin (Missouri Senate)
Jeff Flake (Arizona Senate)
Mike Pence (Indiana Governor)
Mike Rehberg (Montana Senate)
Connie Mack (Florida Senate)
Rick Berg (North Dakota Senate)
Ron Paul (President)

I feel fairly safe in speculating that the Democrats will retain David Wu’s former seat. in the January 31 special election. This leaves them 25 short of control. I also figure that both parties should retain about 2/3 of their respective retirement lists. This leaves the Democrats starting from a base deficit of 25 seats, and then losing six while gaining three off of retirements. This would put them 28 seats away from control.

For the Democrats to pick off 28 seats, they will need an electoral environment identical to the one that prevailed in 2006 and 2008. Therefore, barring an absolutely catastrophic GOP Presidential Campaign in 2012, the GOP House Caucus will probably still hold sway over the lower house in Congress. The question then becomes whether it will use it more forcefully one the GOP improves their current position in the US Senate.

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