Off the Radar Races II: Great Lakes states

The six Midwestern states that touch on the Great Lakes provide an interesting contrast.  They make up the only region in the country to vote against George W. Bush for President yet elect a solidly Republican delegation to the House.  The region represents a chance for Democrats to gain ground both this year and in the mid-term future.

The reason for this odd situation is obvious.  Republicans gerrymandered OH, IL, and MI giving them an edge.  Indiana is a Republican state with a lot of competitive districts.  MN and WI are close states each tied 4-4 in the House.

Democrats won 65% of the region's electoral votes in 2004, hold 7 of 12 Senate seats and 3 of 6 governorships.  The story in the House, though, is reversed.  Here, Democrats hold 32 seats while Republicans hold 45.  This year, 13 Republican seats are ranked as competitive but only 4 Democratic seats.  A summary of the "Solid republican" seats (per Charlie Cook) follows below the fold.

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53 GOP House Seats: More Risk

Bumped. Also, here are those new Cook rankings--Chris

The fun keeps coming.  Working off Charlie Cook's list we saw that the 20 endangered Democratic seats were in pretty good shape.  Cook lists more Republican seats, 53, and lists 14 of these in the Tossup category.  By comparison, none of the democratic seats is listed as a tossup.

The interesting thing, of course, is that the list of 53 endangered seats is, IMO, too small and the list of 20 Democrats is too large.  I haven't gone over the seats not on the list in any complete and organized manner but I can say that more Republican seats face risk and the fundraising in these seats is not all it is cracked up to be.  In addition, some "safe" Republican seats could turn vulnerable in a hurry.  They are underfunded and unlikely to get much help down the stretch in this particular environment.

Some of the lists are incomplete.  Primaries have not yet been held.  In the case of open seats, many candidates for each party may still be in the running.  To simplify matters, I have just listed the leading cash-on-hand candidate out of the list from each party and/or the incumbent.

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20 Republican House Threats: Lots of Blanks

Charlie Cook lists 20 possible threats to House seats currently held by Democrats.  None of the 20 seats is listed as a tossup but 10 are listed as Lean Democratic and 10 others in the next safer category of Likely Democratic.  By comparison, something like 55 Republican seats are in at least as much trouble as these 20.  Sixteen of these seats will be defended by Democratic incumbents while four are "open."

Democrats have a huge cash on hand advantage in these seats as of June 30 ( with the biggest edge being held by Melissa Bean (IL-8) at $2,175,474 to $43,671 for the best funded Republican.  Expect GOP funds in the arera to go to defend Henry Hyde's old seat in IL-6 rather than to attack Bean.
Two of these other nine most endangered Democrats also had leads of more than a million dollars: Chet Edwards in TX-17 (1,576,787 to 454,453 for Van Taylor) and Leonard Boswell (1,093,465vs. none reported for his opponent in what could be a reporting mistake).  

The other leads were substantial with one exception: Wilson (290,441 v. Blasdel 277,551 in OH-6).  Charlie Melancon in LA-3 had nearly a $700,000 edge over Craig Romero.  John Spratt in Sc-5 leads Ralph Norman by More than $800,000.  Peter Welsh tops Martha Rainville by $475 K.  Alan Mollohan in WV-1 has a comfortable 674,593 to 318,306 lead over Chris Wakim.  John Barrow (1,338,950) leads Max Burns (733,393) by 600 K in a higher dollar race.  Fellow Georgian Jim Marshall has a 410 k lead (1,206,784 to 793,234) over Mac Collins.

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GOP freshmen: 27 in, how many out?

Freshmen congress critters have long considered to be uniquely vulnerable.  These newbies may have been elected in a wave, have yet to build up a full reservoir of goodwill through constituent service, and usually face the full force and effort of the opposing party.  The theory has been to get em out before they are entrenched.

Eric Massa's campaign site included an article from the American Enterprise Institute, a rightwing think tank, listing the eight most vulnerable GOP freshmen (which, of course, included massa'a opponent, Randy Kuhl) and a lot of blabbering about how the small size of the GOP freshman class (just 27) meant that their tenuous House majority of 15 was actually bullet-proof.

Looking through all the GOP incumbents, many have never been through a neutral cycle, never mind a good Democratic year.  There are a lot of 2002 folks, a lot more than the 2004s.  That was the Bush "War on Terror" (aka Democrats) election.  Very few GOPers have been around when the Democratic year of 1974 hit.  A good chunk came in in the 1994 "landslide" and have stayed.

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A Divided GOP

Check out this article in today's L.A. Times, "Voting Rights Act Renewal Divides GOP".

The article starts . . .

"[O]n the cusp of a vote scheduled for Thursday that White House strategists and other top Republicans once hoped would symbolize a GOP eager to attract more blacks and Latinos, a group of increasingly vocal Capitol Hill conservatives is staging a revolt -- arguing that certain provisions of the law are out of sync with party principles and are insulting to the South.  . . . .The result is another emotional standoff within a party already fractured over how to deal with illegal immigration."

I'm not gloating over the division.  I just hope the right side wins.

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