Looking at the Cook Competitive Race Chart.

Looking at the Cook Political Report’s latest competitive race chart is in itself informative – the short version is that of the top 108 competitive races, the following ratios apply:

Likely D 45 0
Leans D 23 1
Toss-up D 12 0
Toss-up R 0 3
Leans R 1 8
Likely R 0 15
Total 81 27

…but there’s some interesting things that can be seen with a little sorting. Below is a chart of competitive seats, sorted by Cook Partisan Rating:

TX-17 Chet Edwards R+20
ID-1 Walter Minnick R+18
AL-2 Bobby Bright R+16
MO-4 Ike Skelton R+14
IN-3 Mark Souder R+14
KS-4 OPEN (Tiahrt) R+14
MS-1 Travis Childers R+14
TN-6 Bart Gordon R+13
OH-2 Jean Schmidt R+13
AK-AL Don Young R+13
TN-3 OPEN (Wamp) R+13
MD-1 Frank Kratovil R+13
LA-3 OPEN (Melancon) R+12
AL-5 Parker Griffith R+12
VA-9 Rick Boucher R+11
GA-8 Jim Marshall R+10
ND-AL Earl Pomeroy R+10
SC-1 Henry Brown R+10
TX-10 Michael McCaul R+10
KY-6 Ben Chandler R+9
SD-AL Stephanie Herseth Sandlin R+9
SC-2 Joe Wilson R+9
AR-1 Marion Berry R+8
IN-8 Brad Ellsworth R+8
PA-10 Chris Carney R+8
MN-6 Michele Bachmann R+7
OH-18 Zack Space R+7
SC-5 John Spratt R+7
AZ-1 Ann Kirkpatrick R+6
FL-2 Allen Boyd R+6
NC-11 Heath Shuler R+6
PA-4 Jason Altmire R+6
CA-3 Dan Lungren R+6
CA-44 Ken Calvert R+6
NE-2 Lee Terry R+6
FL-12 OPEN (Putnam) R+6
CO-4 Betsy Markey R+6
NM-2 Harry Teague R+6
IN-9 Baron Hill R+6
TN-8 John Tanner R+6
CO-3 John Salazar R+5
FL-16 Tom Rooney R+5
VA-5 Tom Perriello R+5
AZ-5 Harry Mitchell R+5
AR-2 Vic Snyder R+5
NY-29 Eric Massa R+5
VA-2 Glenn Nye R+5
AZ-8 Gabrielle Giffords R+4
NY-13 Mike McMahon R+4
TX-23 Ciro Rodriguez R+4
FL-24 Suzanne Kosmas R+4
OH-16 John Boccieri R+4
KS-3 Dennis Moore R+3
PA-3 Kathy Dahlkemper R+3
CA-45 Mary Bono Mack R+3
NY-19 John Hall R+3
IN-2 Joe Donnelly R+2
NY-20 Scott Murphy R+2
VA-10 Frank Wolf R+2
FL-8 Alan Grayson R+2
MI-7 Mark Schauer R+2
NY-24 Michael Arcuri R+2
NC-8 Larry Kissell R+2
WI-8 Steve Kagen R+2
IL-8 Melissa Bean R+1
IL-11 Debbie Halvorson R+1
NJ-3 John Adler R+1
PA-12 John Murtha R+1
FL-10 C. W. Bill Young R+1
IL-13 Judy Biggert R+1
CA-11 Jerry McNerney R+1
IL-14 Bill Foster R+1
NY-23 Bill Owens R+1
MI-11 Thad McCotter R+0
MN-3 Erik Paulsen R+0
NH-1 Carol Shea-Porter R+0
NY-1 Tim Bishop R+0
WA-3 Brian Baird D+0
FL-22 Ron Klein D+1
GA-12 John Barrow D+1
IA-3 Leonard Boswell D+1
OR-5 Kurt Schrader D+1
OH-12 Patrick Tiberi D+1
OH-1 Steve Driehaus D+1
OH-15 Mary Jo Kilroy D+1
MI-9 Gary Peters D+2
OR-4 Peter DeFazio D+2
VA-11 Gerald Connolly D+2
PA-15 Charlie Dent D+2
NV-3 Dina Titus D+2
NY-25 Dan Maffei D+3
WA-8 Dave Reichert D+3
NH-2 OPEN (Hodes) D+3
PA-7 OPEN (Sestak) D+3
CA-18 Dennis Cardoza D+4
CA-47 Loretta Sánchez D+4
CO-7 Ed Perlmutter D+4
PA-11 Paul Kanjorski D+4
WI-3 Ron Kind D+4
PA-6 OPEN (Gerlach) D+4
CA-20 Jim Costa D+5
CT-4 Jim Himes D+5
IA-1 Bruce Braley* D+5
NM-1 Martin Heinrich D+5
IL-10 OPEN (Kirk) D+6
DE-AL OPEN (Castle) D+7
HI-1 OPEN (Abercrombie) D+11
LA-2 Joseph Cao D+25

As you can see, there are a lot of Democratic incumbents in districts that typically vote Republican in Presidential elections, and almost no Republican incumbents in districts that vote Democratic. For that matter, something like 72% of the total competitive races are in Republican districts… which would sound like bad news for the GOP, except that Democratic-held seats make up 75% of both the total and particularly competitive races surveyed by Cook. The midpoint for that list is at R+3; below that point there are 14 GOP districts held by Democrats, and only 7 Democratic ones held by Republicans.

What does that mean, in terms of the 2010 elections? Well, if you assume that every district held by Democrats that’s at R+4 and above gets flipped, every incumbent between R+3 and D+0 keeps his or her seat, and that every Republican in a Democratic district loses his or her seat… the Democrats lose 31 seats next year. Assume that an incumbent needs to at least break even (i.e., has at least a R or D+0), and the number goes up to 48 seats lost by the Democrats. Split the difference, and now you know why Charlie Cook is pessimistic about the Democrats’ chances next year.

Moving on, here is a map of the cross-party-held seats:


As the key notes, Red shows states with at least one vulnerable Democrat-held seat; Blue shows states with at least one vulnerable GOP-held; and Purple are states with at least one of each. Again, there’s a lot more in the first category than there are in the second and third. The reason that this is important is that the exceptionally wide geographical spread of the territory that the Democrats will have to defend next year should make for some entertainingly hard choices for the White House. Assuming that the administration comes out swinging for the midterms… well, it can either pick its spots (at a guess: NY, OH, & PA) and abandon the rest, or it can try to defend everything (and thus defend nothing). Obviously, neither choice is really optimal.

Conclusion: as of this moment, one year in it looks good for the GOP to get a large number of seats back. One year in.

This will change.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.