An Election Night Primer on the House Races

There’s been a lot of attention focused on the race for the Senate this year.  The House races, on the other hand, have become a forgotten footnote on the 2012 election map.  The reason is quite simple: Republicans will retain control of the House, irrespective of the outcome of the presidential election.

At present, Republicans control 242 seats and Democrats control 193 seats (a few of the seats are actually vacant due to early resignations.)  Democrats would have to enjoy a wave election in order to bridge the 25-seat gap, and at this point, the election is at best a wash.  Due to the aggressive redistricting efforts on the part of Democrats in the states they control, they are favored by many analysts to net a few more seats this cycle.  However, due to the conservative approach by the GOP in shoring up their existing majority, they will easily hold onto their majority.  Moreover, in the event that Romney wins at the top of the ticket, it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities for Republicans to net more seats at the end of the night.

Even several weeks ago, the most likely outcome was a Democrat net gain of 5-10 seats.  However, Republicans have come on strong in the House races; a phenomenon that has largely gone under the radar.  The way I see it is that Republicans will net 12 more seats over Democrats through reapportionment and redistricting that has created near-certain GOP pickups and Democrat loses.  Then there are roughly 22 Republican pickup “opportunities,” 26 Democrat opportunities, and 4 shared opportunities (newly created seats).  Democrats have a decent shot in 15-18 of those seats.  Then again, Republicans have a fair shot at flipping 10 competitive Democrat seats.  Even if we give the majority of tossups to Democrats, it’s hard to see how they pick up more than a few seats.  I will go on record as going against the grain and predicting a 0-3 seat net gain for the GOP.

Here is a list of potential or inevitable Democrat and Republican pickup opportunities to watch for on election night, in order of the poll closing times (E.S.T.) by state.  These are the races that will alter the orientation of the House:

6 PM –Kentucky, Indiana – 1 GOP pickup,1 GOP pickup opportunity

  • KY-6: Democrat Ben Chandler is one of the few remaining Blue Dog phonies.  Republican Andy Barr has an excellent chance to knock him off in a district that will vote heavily for Romney.  This will be the first bellwether of the night.
  • IN-2: Republican Jackie Walorski will turnover Democrat Joe Donnelly’s seat in this north Indiana seat.

7 PM – SC –FL-GA    3 GOP Pickup, 3 Democrat pickup opportunities, 2 GOP pickup opportunities  

  • SC-7: South Carolina picked up a new seat, and this one will go to Republican Tom Rice.  Whether he’s conservative or not, we’ll just have to see.
  • FL-18: Democrats figured they had Allen West on the ropes in this swing district, but West is coming on strong and running a bare-knuckled campaign against Patrick Murphey, a weak candidate.
  • FL-26: Ethically challenged RINO David Rivera appears to be toast.
  • FL- 22: Florida 22 is a D+5 Boca Raton-based seat that has been newly drawn.  Republican Adam Hasner is coming on strong against Lois Frankel.
  • FL-9: Florida 9 is a new district based in Kissimmee.  It is supposed to be a new seat for Democrats, and kook Alan Grayson is vying for it.  But a strong showing from Romney could lift Todd Long over the top and deny them a pickup.
  • FL-6:  This is the new Republican-added district on the Daytona Beach coast.  It is a solid lock for conservative star Ron DeSantis.
  • GA-9: This is the new Republican seat that Georgia gained.  It’s one of the most conservative in the country and will be a net gain for the GOP.
  • GA-12: Democrat John Barrow was redistricted into more conservative territory.  Lee Anderson looks set to pick this seat up for the GOP.

7:30 PM – Ohio, NC, WV 3 GOP pickups, 1 GOP pickup opportunity, 1 Dem pickup opportunity

  • OH-16: Republican Jim Renacci is locked in a tough battle with Rep. Betty Sutton due to redistricting in this district, which covers the outlying areas around Cleveland and Akron.  It might track very closely with the presidential election, but Republicans have a better chance of holding it because the district became slightly more Republican.
  • WV-3: There is no reason to suggest that Democrat Nick Rahall is in trouble from challenger Rick Snuffer, but some people wonder of the backlash against Obama and the war on coal could affect down ticket races.
  • NC-4, 7, 8, 11: Republicans have 4 pickup opportunities in North Carolina.  NC-4 is Brad Miller vacated seat that is 100% gone for the Democrats forever.  NC-11 (Heath Schuler’s vacated seat) and NC-8 (Larry Kissell’s seat) are all but gone as well.  NC-11 will be won  Mark Meadows.  In NC 7, Mike McIntyre is holding on for dear life against Republican David Rouzer.  This one is a pure toss-up.

8 PM – CT, IL, MD, MA,MO, NH, OK,PA, RI, TX – 1GOP Pickup, 5 GOP pickup opportunities, 8 Democrat pickup opportunities, 4 Democrat losses

  • CT-5: Chris Murphy has vacated this marginally Dem seat to run for Senate.  With Obama underperforming in CT, and a close Senate race, Republican Andrew Roraback has a good chance of picking off this seat.
  • IL-8, 10, 11, 17 – Democrats have 4 pickup opportunities; Walsh, Dold, Biggert, and Schilling.  They represent the Democrats’ biggest redistricting success.  Yet, despite the fact that all these districts have been drawn as majority Dem seats, they only lead in Walsh’s district.
  • IL-12:  Republicans have the opportunity to blunt Democrat gains by picking up this open seat (Jerry Costello) with Republican Jason Plummer.
  • MD-6: In one of the most egregious gerrymanders, Democrats mixed in liberal areas to Roscoe Bartlett’s conservative western Maryland district.  Most people wrote him off, but the latest poll has the race dead even.
  • MA-6:  Democrat John Tierney is slated to be defeated by Republican John Tisei due to ethics problems.  He’ll become the first Republicans in the state delegation.  Additionally, Democrats will automatically lose a seat due to reapportionment.
  • Missouri lost a Democrat seat due to reapportionment.  This is an automatic Dem loss.
  • NH-1, 2:  Democrats had hoped to pick off both GOP seats, but with Romney surging in the state, things have changed.  Republican Frank Guinta has the momentum in the more conservative eastern district (NH-1) and the Democrat is slightly ahead of Charlie Bass in district 2.  A Romney win could lift him – for whatever Bass is worth.
  • OK-2: Retiring Blue Dog Dan Boren’s eastern Oklahoma will certainly realign to Republicans in another guaranteed pickup.
  • PA-12: Democrat Mark Critz is much too radical for this Republican-trending western PA district.  With the war on coal and Obama dragging down Critz, conservative Keith Rothfus has a prime pickup opportunity.  Additionally, Democrats will automatically lose a seat in PA due to reapportionment.
  • RI-1: In perhaps the most Democrat district challenged by a Republican, Congressman David Cicillinie is facing a serious challenge from Brendan Doherty.  The latest poll has it dead even.
  • TX-23: Republicans have already maxed out on seats in this state, and reapportionment was a wash.  Democrats are seeking to unseat Rep. Francisco Canseco in this heavily Hispanic southwest district.
  • NJ: Democrats will automatically lose a seat in New Jersey due to reapportionment.

8:30 PM – AR, 1 GOP pickup

  • AR-4: Conservative Tom Cotton will pick up this open seat from retiring Democrat Mike Ross.

9 PM – AZ, CO, LA, MI, MN, NY, WI-  6 GOP Pickup opportunities, 8 Democrat pickup opportunities; 1 GOP loss and one Democrat loss; 2 shared pickups opportunity in a new district   

  • AZ-1: This is the new added seat in the eastern part of the state.  It is rated R+3 and a toss-up, but Republican Jonathan Patton is slightly favored.
  • AZ-2: Ron Barber won Gabby Giffords’s seat in a special election, but Martha McSally is giving him a late run for his money.  The district is still R+2.
  • AZ-9: This is a new district added in the suburban Phoenix area.  The Democrats seem to be favored because of their superior fundraising, but Republicans still have a registration edge in this district.
  • CO-6:  Democrats are gunning for Mike Coffman after they made his district more Democratic.  This is a pure toss up race.
  • CO-7: Democrat Ed Perlmutter appeared safe for most of the campaign, but Joe Coors is closing in on him really quickly.
  • Louisiana- Due to reapportionment, Republicans will automatically lose a seat in Louisiana.
  • MI 1: Democrats are trying hard to unseat Dan Benishek, and the polls have this race pretty tight.  However, the district has become slightly more favorable; I would give the edge to Benishek.
  • Additionally, Democrats will automatically lose a seat in MI due to reapportionment.
  • MN-8:  This northeastern district has been a long-time Democrat stronghold, but Chip Cravaack pulled an upset in 2010 and unseated Keith Oberstar.  For a while, it looked like Democrats would make him a one-term congressman, but Cravaack is coming back with strong momentum.
  • MN-6:  Every year, Democrats take aim at Michele Bachmann and feel that it will be her last time in office.  She’s held on in much tougher years.  I’m not convinced that this year is any different.
  • NY-1: Republican Randy Altschuler is attempting a second shot at Tim Bishop in this Suffolk County, Long Island district.  This looks like a pure toss-up.
  • NY-18, 19, 24: Democrats are taking a swing at Nan Hayworth (18th), Chris Gibson (19th), and Ann Buerkle (24th).  Hayworth and Gibson seem to be holding on to a consistent lead.  Buerkle is in a tough D+4 district and is actually the most conservative incumbent from the state.  Polls show it even.
  • NY-21, 25, 27:  Republicans are taking a stab at Bill Owens (21st), Louise Slaughter (25th), and Kathy Hochul (27th).  Hochul is in a Republican district that she won in a freak special election.  She’s toast.  Matt Doheney has broken through with major momentum against Bill Owens in the cursed 21st district.  They are now tied.  Louise Slaughter is still a tough nut to crack, but with a less Democrat district, it’s possible for Maggie Brooks to break through.
  • WI-7: Republicans Sean Duffy represents the swing district in northwest Wisconsin, and Democrats are trying to win it back.  This one could be heavily influenced from the outcome of the presidential race, but Duffy is the slight favorite.

10 PM – IA, NV, UT- 1 GOP pickup, 3 GOP pickup opportunities, 1 Democrat pickup opportunity, and 2 shared pickup opportunities

  • IA-1,2,3,4: Iowa is a real battleground.  Due to the loss of a seat, redistricting, strong competitors on both sides, and a death match on the top of the ticket, the entire state is a battleground.  Democrats think they have a strong challenger in Christie Vilsack against Steve King (district 4). However, the district is still R-leaning and Romney will do well at the top of the ticket.  In district 3, Reps. Latham ( R) and Boswell (D) are two incumbents who were merged into the same district.  As present, Latham has the slight edge.  Republicans are also running strong candidates against Bruce Braley (district 1) and Steve Loebsack (district 2).  They are still outside shots, but if Romney wins the state, they are in position to surprise in district 2.
  • NV-2: Democrats thought they had Joe Heck on the ropes in this trending-Democrat southern Nevada district.  However, Heck has maintained a steady lead.
  • NV-4: This new district is Democrat leaning because it includes the northern Las Vegas suburbs; However, Republican Danny Tarkanian appears to be leading in the latest polls.
  • UT-4: Jim Matheson represents this western Utah district, the most Republican district held by a Dem (R+16).  Although polling shows it to be a tight race, it’s hard to see how he holds on against Republican Mia Love.  Additionally, Republicans will automatically pick up a new seat reapportioned for Utah.

11 PM – CA, WA 1 Dem pickup, 4 GOP pickup opportunities, and 5 Dem pickup opportunities

  • Due to favorable “non-partisan” redistricting, Democrats are taking a swing at 5 GOP-held seats.  They are targeting Brian Bilbray in 52, Jeff Denhem in 10, Lungren in 7,Bono Mack in 32, and Elton Gallegly’s old seat in 26.  Republicans should hold Denhem and Bono-Mack’s seats, while the other 3 could go either way.  Republicans are on the offense in districts 3 (Garamendi), 9 (McNerney), and 24 Capps).  McNerney is a pure toss-up, while the other 2 remain outside shots.
  • WA-1: Republican John Koster is running a strong campaign for this Democrat seat being vacated by Jay Inslee.  This is a very tight race.
  • WA-10:  This is a new Democrat district created from reapportionment that Democrats will gain.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project



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