Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Future

Signs of a wave are popping up all over the place, but no more so than in blue House districts held by Republicans. For example, look at NH-02, where netroots candidate Paul Hodes is now on the brink of victory:

University of New Hampshire poll, 9/24 numbers in parenthesis
Hodes (D): 46% (36%)
Bass (R): 38% (46%)

This is the third poll in a row showing Hodes with the lead. The previous two were Constituent Dynamics, showing Hodes ahead 50-47, and the Becker Institute, showing Hodes ahead 48-39. Keep in mind that Hodes was down 25 points in this race as recently as six weeks ago. He was never supposed to win this. Now, it looks like NH-02 is "Lean Dem."

KY-03 looks very good too. The latest form Survey USA, with the mid-October numbers in parenthesis:

Yarmuth (D): 52% (48%)
Northup (R): 44% (47%)

In September, Survey USA has this race at 50%-44% in favor of Northup. But now Yarmuth is in a position to win. Both KY-03 and NH-02 are districts with a partisan voting index favorable to Democrats. If Democrats take these seats, which is starting to look like a good bet, it will be very hard for Republicans to take them back. It doesn't stop in KY-03 and NH-02. Look at the current polling averages from several more:
  • CO-07: Perlmutter (D) 50.2%--42.0% O'Donnell (R)
  • NM-01: Madrid (D) 50.6%--43.0% Wilson (R)
  • IA-01: Braley (D) 45.8%--40.7% Whalen (R)
  • NY-25: Maffei (D) 48.7%--43.7% Walsh (R)
  • PA-06: Murphy (D) 48.4%--44.1% Gerlach (R)
  • CT-05: Murphy (D) 46.8%--44.0% Johnson (R)
For a while, people noted that the best Democratic pickup chances tended to come from red districts like IN-09, KY-04, TX-22, and NC-11. However, as the campaign has progressed, blue districts have clumped together near the top of our target list. I currently estimate seven blue districts as Lean Democratic: CO-07, CT-05, IA-01, NH-02, NM-01, PA-06 and PA-07. Another eight are Toss-ups: CT-02, CT-04, FL-22, KY-03, NY-25, PA-08, and WA-08. The only one that doesn't strike me as quite a toss-up is IL-10, but even there netroots candidate Dan Seals is actually ahead 48-46 in the latest poll.

In just the seventeen blue House districts currently held by Republicans, Democrats are poised to make somewhere between seven and sixteen pickups this cycle alone. Hell, we could win enough seats to take back the House in just these districts, and those are all seats Republicans will have a very hard time getting back. Thus, these districts form not only the backbone of our drive to take the House this year, but have the clear potential to serve as the backbone of our majority in future cycles. Further, none of these Democrats will be in a position where they will have to "run from the party" in order to win, meaning that these districts can serve as the backbone of a Democratic and progressive legislative majority.

Karl Rove is supposedly a genius for adopting a polarizing, turn out the base strategy. However, it now looks entire possible that this strategy will blow up in his face. Polarized environments force people to choose sides, and after the 2006 elections there will be only a handful of Republicans left in blue House districts, while dozens of Democrats remain in purple and red districts. Creating a polarizing environment and only talking to the Republican base has resulted in only the Republican base siding with Republicans. The Republican base got exactly what it wanted after the 2004 elections: complete and lavish attention from their party leaders. The result looks like it will be the near-total collapse of Republicans in blue and purple districts.

Tags: Democrats, House 2006, polls, Realignment (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

NH 02...LOOK AT NH 01

We can now add NH 01 to the possible pick up list...

by KBowe 2006-11-02 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

I think that NC08 has a favorable Democratic lean to it, but I can't recall the exact numbers.  

by Robert P 2006-11-02 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

I don't think so.  This is the Fort Bragg district.  There is an odd dynamic going on there now with an anti-war movement among normally GOP soldiers' wives, who want their husbands out of Iraq ASAP and back home alive.  NPR did a story on this district.  It was fascinating.

by NJIndependent 2006-11-02 04:10PM | 0 recs
NC-08 - Blue Moon Election

NC-08 is majority Democrat by registration, roughly 51-38. It is the most Democratic seat in the South that is held by the GOP.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/1/ 14627/9681

The NC General Assembly drew NC-08 as a Democratic District after the 2000 census, but Hayes just lucked into a combination of weak Democratic opponents in '02 and '04 and a strong GOP tide in statewide and national elections.  This year, he has neither - there are no statewide races on the ticket in NC this year, and of course, no pro-GOP tide.

"Blue moon" Congressional elections with no Senate or Governor's races at the top of the ticket only come once every 12 years in NC.  The last was '94, the next will be 2018.  This is the year for Larry Kissell to take out Hayes.

by Bear83 2006-11-02 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: NC-08 - Blue Moon Election

Thanks Bear, I was pretty sure I was right.  The district actually houses only the "old" part of Fayetteville I thought?  Not the region where most of the base deployed are living?

by Robert P 2006-11-03 05:26AM | 0 recs
Democratic Future

>>The Republican base got exactly what it wanted

they got attention, but not results, which actually is par for the course for the last few decades.  Lot of rhetoric, but no abortion ban, no social security reform.  They did get a couple gimmes on the bench re: SCOTUS.  But the corporate shills really reaped the rewards:  Medicare, bankruptcy, capital gains, estate tax, etc.

by lutton 2006-11-02 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

this is an awesome post.  totally accurate.

the funny thing is if these guys (on both sides) are pros.  they've studied public opinion/voting behavior in places like georgetown or virginia where they have great programs.  so they really know what the keys to vote choice (and thus, victory) are: 1) party id; 2) overt references to race/gender/class; 3) candidate preference (mostly in non-urban areas).  

as such, both sides have employed strategies to identify and turn out their voters along these lines.  the funny thing is that the republican coalition isn't actually big enough on party preference, etc. to drag in legislative majorities.  so these guys, they've been getting incumbent bonuses (since 1994, but also before), and they've been engaging in almost unbelievable levels of disinformation in their framing/agenda setting efforts.  

the national-level democrats have been kind of floundering, running on what they feel should get them in, but it's only this cycle that the payoff is coming, that the things that they learned at georgetown, etc. will start to make sense.  blue districts will become blue, and purple districts will reflect the extent of the wave.

by island empire 2006-11-02 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

This is a really astute comment.  There are maybe a dozen southern districts held by white male Democrats that are held by personal loyalty.  Where the typical district congress member outperforms his/her Presidential candidate by 5 to 10 points, in these districts the House member outperforms by 20 or 30 points.  I suspect that many of these districts will not be successfully passed on to another Democrat but they are truly safe for now.

We all know a lot of these districts.  VA-7 where Rick Boucher ran an even 20 points ahead of John Kerry is a good example.  Mike McIntyre ran 29 points ahead of Kerry in NC-7 (that one may be saved in a transition but if it is, it's a nail-biter).  Spratt ran 22 points ahead of Kerry in SC-5; he's 30 points ahead of his GOP opponent in a non-Presidential year. Bart Gordon ran 24 points ahead of Kerry in Tennessee-6; John Tanner was 26 points ahead of Kerry in TN-8; Jim Cooper ran 16 points ahead in TN-5; Lincoln Davis was 13 points ahead of Kerry in TN-4.  Gene Taylor ran 33 points ahead of Kerry in MS-4.  Marion Berry ran 19 points ahead of Kerry in Arkansas-1 (another seat that may be able to  be passed on).  Ben Chandler in KY-6 ran 17 points ahead of Kerry and is getting a free pass this year in a red district.

That's ten but some other seats may or may not be in the group (like two more in Arkansas where Kerry drew in the high 40s and the two up for grabs in Georgia this year.

by David Kowalski 2006-11-03 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

I'd add AL-5, Bud Cramer to this list.

by corncam 2006-11-03 07:18AM | 0 recs
This is the post-mortem

CW wisdom epitaph that the traditional media should be writing next Wednesday.

Karl Rove is supposedly a genius for adopting a polarizing, turn out the base strategy. However, it now looks entire possible that this strategy will blow up in his face. Polarized environments force people to choose sides, and after the 2006 elections there will be only a handful of Republicans left in blue House districts, while dozens of Democrats remain in purple and red districts. Creating a polarizing environment and only talking to the Republican base has resulted in only the Republican base siding with Republicans. The Republican base got exactly what it wanted after the 2004 elections: complete and lavish attention from their party leaders. The result looks like it will be the near-total collapse of Republicans in blue and purple districts

You're EXACTLY spot-on.

Let me play concern troll for the GOP -- you're better off sacrificing both chambers than going through with Rove's suicide pact.

Rove is no genius -- he's just another hack, a political margin trader living on borrowed money.

Most political strategists would declare bankruptcy, consider thinking about the future of their party and ideology.   Not Rove -

Just like the folks screwed most by the bankrptucy bill, he's going back to the Bank of Evangelica for another extension, another credit increase... and just like someone drowning in debt, he'll find there are always those willing to lend more, never mind the fine print... until you can't borrow another dollar, and they all want to be paid at once.  

Maybe he eeks out another big far right turnout -- but that pool's been tapped dry. It might be just enough to prevent a Whig-style collapse.  But they ain't happy -- and you better believe they're going to insist on some sort of payment before 2008. Go any further right and you might as well seriously consider trying to bring the skinheads, neo-nazis and true bottom feeders of that dead end of the political spectrum to the polls.  

Meanwhile, the shrinking but still critical middle -- they're done.  They've called the DNC collection agents on the bastard.

Were I a conservative, I'd want this current crop to lose and lose big time, while there's still a chance to remake the party for 2008.  

But hey, fortunately -- the tired old CW will likely take years to see it... and consequently, we might actually have a few years of relative peace while the right sorts exactly what they want - a 50 state, 300 million company town that pays in worthless company script, a theocray wrapped in nationalism, or a sane counterweight to progressivism.

By all means, my pudgy friend -- drag it out.  So long as you flame out with an incompetent boob at the helm rather than a true madman  -- our children will likely thank you.  

by zonk 2006-11-02 02:43PM | 0 recs
Great beginning of the epitath for Rove

The result looks like it will be the near-total collapse of Republicans in blue and purple districts.

That Rove and Bush survived this long is their artful manipulation of post-9/11.  Of course everyone knows that.

But for all of Rove's acclaimed genious in 2002 and 2004, I don't think it's too early to anticipate the other shoe hitting the floor regarding how his divisive methods wasted years of opportunity. He created a Faustian bargain with the electorate that could not last. Where's the genious in that?

Thank goodness the 2006 elections will push 1984-like scenarios farther away from becoming reality.

by sawgrass727 2006-11-02 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone

Winning all the blue districts will only give a majority in the House of 5 if my math is right.  Not enough to push through meaningful legislation, given that you lose 30-40 conservative Democrats on most votes.  

We need as many Democrats as possible in order to at least have to opportunity to educate independents, moderates, and even some conservatives to the correctness of the progressive vision.  Of course, that requires getting Democratic members of Congress getting on the same progressive page and doing the hard work to transform the hearts and minds of the public.

While this election may (assuming we take control) give us a great start in that process, the real work will begin afterwards - hearding the cats that are the Democratic Party.

That being said, yes, grabbing these blue seats will definitely be helpful in maintaining a majority.

by parmenides 2006-11-02 02:49PM | 0 recs
Democratic Future

The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

If Karl's plan ran/runs a substantial risk of all-or-nothing type results - for which they have gotten a good run - it would explain the absolute-type reign of 'the Hammer' and the GOP congress.  They both needed to keep everybody, and I mean everybody, on the reservation, and they also need to reap as much as possible, because it could all go away very quickly.

Not that those points make their behaviour acceptable or redeamable; in fact, it makes that style of politics all the more UNacceptable, because too many people will be driven to 'get while the gettin' is good.'

by lutton 2006-11-02 02:56PM | 0 recs
is that right?

Is the NH poll correct? says 9/24..should it be 10/24? On a side note...isn't it weird we are carpet bombing the east coast but somehowe NJ got left out..there are enough GOP incumbents there that need a good kicking..but somehow they may escape the fate of their brethren in NY and PA..what a shame.

by dantata 2006-11-02 03:44PM | 0 recs
Those are red districts

I watched a C-SPAN program on resistricting and the 2006 midterms a few days ago. A Democratic analyst isolated New Jersey and Michigan as blue states which have disproportionately red margins in House seats. He said New Jersey was actually closer to splitting one more seat toward the GOP, if a Democratic incumbent retires.

I guess the question is how do we create more blue districts?

Rove may be overrated, but if he were on our side I guarantee he'd target the areas where we are underperforming, notably black registration and turnout, along with young single women.

by Gary Kilbride 2006-11-02 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

PA-06 and 07 are still Republican districts by registration although that may change in time.

by phillydem 2006-11-02 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Districts Form Backbone of Democratic Fut

The last 48 hours have probably been the worst 48 in Sweeney's Life (NY-20).  Outted on his wife's domestic violence call to State Police, he is in a desperate arriere garde operation, putting his wife on to play the offended innocent.  NY-20 may be a real bellweather state (viz. Walter Shapiro) and it's looking bluer all the time.

by SaratogaProf 2006-11-02 05:00PM | 0 recs
Goodbye To Dixie
     Chris, you're exactly right. Since passage of the Voting Rights Act 41 years ago, we've tried to be competitive in the Deep South, but now we've got only 32 of the 94 House seats from the original 7 Confederate states, and 17 of those are Black or Hispanic majority districts.
     We tried it, and it just didn't work. We have much better opportunities to gain seats and electoral votes in the other 39 states. Let's stop throwing good money after bad.
by Ron Thompson 2006-11-02 06:34PM | 0 recs
Incumbent imploding in Illinois 10

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk: seeing solid base of well-heeled Jewish suburbanites and veterans slipping through fingers ...

Culprit: unfolding scandal featuring Kirk aide emailing not-so-veiled threat to prominent Jewish businessman, vowing revenge if he doesn't stop backing Kirk's opponent; veterans question Kirk's loyalty upon examining his bad habit of repeatedly voting to cut their benefits ...

Challenger Seals: untested/unknown, but with blue-chip background and magnetic effect on voters ...
It's Seals in a squeaker

by IllinoisDem 2006-11-02 06:44PM | 0 recs
Thank you!

This is very, very reassuring.  I was starting to get worried that in 08, a Presidential year, we were gonna have a dozen or two House incumbents running against our nominee.  It's good to see that a lot of our pickups are going to come from people who will firm up swing Dem districts.  That can only help!

by dansomone 2006-11-03 04:29AM | 0 recs
Republicans = regional party

It's seemed to me for some time that we can make the case that Congressional republicans are now a regional party: the deep South and a vertical strip of the plains states.

Just as 1994 washed away virtually all of the remnants of the southern Democrats, 2006 will do the same for the northeastern "moderate" Republicans. The northeast and the coast are now pretty much out of play for Republican House races. The Republicans will remain competitive in parts of the mid-west and Rockies, but for the foreseeable future we play in their territory.

by KitBinns 2006-11-03 04:46AM | 0 recs
Another Blue district

IA-2 is another blue district where the challenger, David Loebsack, is competitive with the long-term incumbent, Jim Leach.

Loebsack for Congress

by corncam 2006-11-03 07:23AM | 0 recs

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