The Campaign Spot

Assessing NPR’s Poll on Those Most Vulnerable House Members

It’s only one poll, but it does suggest the original list of 99 was not outlandish at all:

For this poll, Bolger and Greenberg chose the districts where incumbents are considered the most vulnerable, and, in the case of open seats, the ones most likely to switch party control in November. Sixty are currently held by Democrats — many of whom won these seats even when voters in the same  district preferred Republican John McCain for president in 2008. The other 10 districts are the flip side — held by Republicans in the House, even though their voters went for Barack Obama in 2008.

These are this year’s swing seats — the political terrain where the battle for control of the House of Representatives will be won or lost. In this battleground, voters are choosing Republicans over Democrats 49 percent to 41 percent. 

A couple of things that jump out at me about the list of competitive districts: They deem PA-15 the 10th most competitive GOP-held seat in the House, which on paper is a reasonable conclusion, but note that incumbent Charlie Dent won by 17 percentage points in 2008 while Obama was carrying the district 56 percent to 43 percent. I don’t want to say he’s unbeatable, but to echo the slogan of a hard-charging big-city district attorney, I believe in Charlie Dent.

Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann is on their list of most vulnerable GOP representatives, but she won by 3 percentage points in 2008, while Obama was carrying the state by 10 percentage points. I suppose it’s possible Bachmann could get beaten, but if she wasn’t washed out in the Obama tide of last cycle, the chances aren’t likely this year.

The newest House Democrat, Mark Critz, is on their list of most vulnerable members of that party.

Florida’s Alan Grayson ranks among the 30 most vulnerable Democrats.

There are seven Democrat-held House districts in New York that rank among the top 60 most vulnerable; I sure wish the GOP had some more help from the top of the ticket in that state.


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