The Republicans’ efforts in the House have been pretty amazing this year. They’ve put up good fights against all the Democrats they could plausibly hope to oust: almost all of those who won in 2006 and 2008, almost all of the Blue Dogs, almost all of the how-does-he-win-that-seat stalwarts (John Spratt, Chet Edwards, Gene Taylor, Ike Skelton), almost all of those vying for open seats, and even a few solid incumbents such as Phil Hare, John Hall, Bob Etheridge, and Jim Oberstar.
You can see my predictions here. In the House, the projection is for the GOP to gain 70 seats: The GOP will win 76 House districts currently held by Democrats, and the Democrats will win 6 House seats currently held by Republicans, including a few surprises. Republican takeovers are in red; Democratic takeovers are in dark blue.
I can hear it now: “Jim’s been gargling with Maker’s Mark again.” But I actually played it fairly safe on this list. I predicted no GOP takeovers in states where the early voting looks pretty “meh,” such as West Virginia or Iowa. (Thanks to Scott Elliott at www.electionprojection.com and Rare Jazz Congress for compiling the tables.)
Here are some notes on the numbers:
Arizona: Perhaps someone will argue that my prediction that the Republicans will win almost every competitive House race in the Grand Canyon State is too optimistic, but its voters watched Democratic lawmakers stand and applaud the president of Mexico as he denounced the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Arizonans can’t send a message to Washington by reelecting Democrats, and I think they know that.
Also, for a variety of reasons, Ben Quayle seems like the wrong candidate to run in this cycle — too young, too associated with past Washington Republicans, too few serious accomplishments in the district.
Arkansas: The number of Arkansas Democrats continues to dwindle.
California: I’m probably a little optimistic here, considering that the statewide races have turned gloomy for Republicans and the marijuana initiative should bring out young voters. But I suspect that the high unemployment and miserable housing-bubble fallout means Californians will want to take out their frustration on some incumbents, and so a few Democratic lawmakers (in not terribly Democratic districts) make likely targets.
Colorado: There are a lot of states where the electorate can be persuaded to vote for Democrats but cannot be persuaded to vote for liberals, and Colorado seems like one of those.
Connecticut: I’ve been wary about GOP chances in Connecticut for a while, but it sounds like here, as in many places, the Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 as moderates are now seen as too liberal for their districts, even if those districts do lean Democrat.
Florida: If early voting is any indicator, Florida Democrats are about to get massacred. Notice my caution in predicting a Democratic takeover in FL-25.
Georgia: I wouldn’t be stunned to see John Barrow go down in GA-12, either.
Hawaii: Perhaps I’m a wee bit optimistic to predict Djou’s reelection, but it’s not like any polls have put Hanabusa up by a wide margin.
Idaho: Raul Labrador should win, considering how heavily Republican the district is, but Minnick hasn’t given him many votes to run against.
Illinois: It’s looking like a big rebound year for a once-dormant Illinois Republican party. Remember who was predicting Phil Hare’s defeat back in May.
Indiana: I’m surprised to be predicting Joe Donnelly over Jackie Walorski, but Donnelly has led most polls and has aggressively distanced himself from the administration. This is one of my “things just go wrong sometimes” picks.
Iowa: The early-voting numbers are pretty “meh” for Republicans.
Kentucky: I really like Andy Barr, and Todd Lally is coming on strong, and a win by either wouldn’t surprise me. But the Democratic incumbents have been hanging on in the few polls I’ve seen.
Maine: Dean Scontras may seem like an upset pick, but he appears to have real momentum.
Massachusetts: Oh, how I would love to predict a GOP win by Sean Bielat or Jeff Perry. Unfortunately, GOP sources both in Washington and up in Massachusetts are more bearish about both races. A lot of Democrats will survive their toughest challenges ever this year, but I have a hard time picturing a chastened, modest Barney Frank.
Michigan: I probably could easily justify more GOP wins, as the governor’s race looks like a landslide and no Democrat incumbent can say, “Look at how wonderful your life is because of me!” But it’s hard to get wildly optimistic about Michigan.
Minnesota: I know some Minnesota Republicans are really optimistic, seeing a lot more wins than I predict here. I won’t pretend to fully understand a state that elected Al Franken over Norm Coleman.
Mississippi: Across the South, self-proclaimed “conservative Democrats” will be replaced with actual conservative Republicans, and that’s especially in evidence here.
Missouri: Weird rumblings coming out of this state — all vague and anecdotal, but interesting. Readers say they’re seeing Democrats in traditionally safe seats behaving as if they’re worried. Maybe the Show Me State will show us all a huge upset.
New Hampshire: For much of the year, I figured Charlie Bass was a near shoo-in. Yet I’m told his campaign has been a little unfocused and lackluster. The GOP wave could very well sweep him in anyway, but I figure this is again one of those handful of races where things just go wrong for Republicans.
New Jersey: A lot of readers want to see an Anna Little win, and I have little doubt she’ll give Frank Pallone the toughest challenge of his career. But it’s a heavily Democratic district. Neither he nor Rush Holt is quite as disdained by New Jersey voters as Corzine was last year.
New York: I’m really conservative, meaning cautious, here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see wins by Altschuler, Becker, Grimm, Phillips, or Buerkle. But it’s New York, the top of the ticket has been a disaster, and knocking off a Democrat in this region just isn’t easy, even when the national mood is on the GOP’s side.
North Carolina: After seeing Renee Ellmers leap ahead of Bob Etheridge, I’m starting to wonder if Shuler hangs on, but I figure at least one endangered North Carolina Democrat is left standing.
Ohio: Believe it or not, this is cautious. Gibbs and Iott could very well win.
Pennsylvania: Considering how I see Toomey and Corbett winning this state big, we might see a few more GOP wins here. Rothfus? Tim Burns? (Nah, that district always teases Republicans.) Argall?
Rhode Island: At one point, John Loughlin looked like my most wildly optimistic pick. But the polling keeps looking close, and Obama’s going to Rhode Island in the closing days. What does that tell us?
South Carolina: It’s amazing how quickly the conventional wisdom went from “Mulvaney has a shot” to “maybe Spratt can pull off some miracle.”
Tennessee: The shift here is a fascinating, under-examined story. This is the “home” state of Al Gore, the state that Democrats used to be competitive in. And now they’re just evaporating. The governor’s race wasn’t even competitive.
Texas: Man, I do not want to stand next to Ciro Rodriguez when he gets the bad news.
Virginia: Obviously, the White House thinks Perriello has a shot. Because of redistricting, don’t worry if Morgan Griffith doesn’t win this year. Next year he’ll run in the same district but with friendlier border lines.
Washington: My readers on the ground think they see a huge GOP surge in this state, and it’s happened before; in 1994, Washington swung hard to the right. This state has a bad case of Democrat fatigue.
West Virginia: The early voting numbers for Republicans here were a disappointment. This is an odd state; Obama’s approval rating is low and the state is fed up with liberal policies in Washington, yet the Republicans can’t seem to get traction.
Wisconsin: Another case of Democrat fatigue, I suspect.
So there you have it. These picks are for entertainment purposes only.
– Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot blog on NRO.