Democrats Hunt Best in Packs and Other Election Facts
by David Kowalski, Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 07:12:28 AM EST
Extending the field paid off in a big way on Election Day for democrats. At least three real long shots came through to win House seats: Carol Shea-Porter in Ne Hampshire, Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania and and Nancy Boyda in Kansas. Late DCCC money went to Boyda and Altmire but we are talking real late.
Extending the field paid off in another, more surprising way. Nearly every seat the Democrats won came from a state in which at least two seats were targeted. Single seat efforts in places like New Jersey, Virginia, New Mexico and (mostly) Illinois came close but were expensive failures. A case by case analysis follows below the fold.
Democrats took two of three seats in Connecticut and went two for two in New Hampshire. The one seat held by Republicans belonged to Chris Shays who ran more as a Connecticut for Lieberman candidate than as a Republican (note, he was listed on the ballot as a Republican). Shays, at 52% in 2004 from a Kerry district was a more obvious target than Nancy Johnson or the two NH Republicans but he was the survivor.
As a side note, Shays is left as the only Republican House member from the six New England states. Democrats went from 16 seats in the region to 21 (Independent Bernie Sander4s was replaced by a Democrat). The region seems to be following the Massachusetts model: elect a Republican as Governor or Mayor on occassion but don't trust them for federal office where they enable their right wing brethren.
In New York, 3 of 6 contested districts fell and it could have been six. In PA, it was 4 of 5 if you count Jason Altmire's win with the group. But while the group hunts yielded 11 seats an expensive campaign for Linda Stender in New Jersey failed.
The New Jersey results reveal another election fact. Democrats were able to convert nearly all the close Senate races but were unable to win a single House seat in states with close Senate races (or even states where Senate races were perceived as close). Look at New Jersey, Montana, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and possibly Washington state. Nary a pick up despite expensive efforts in WA-8 (Dave Reichert), NJ-7 (Mike Ferguson), and VA-2 (Thelma Drake). Chuck Schumer was clearly better and stronger at his task than Rahm Emanuel. Just look at the head-to-head.
Other group wins were in Ohio (1 of 4), Indiana (3 of 3), Florida (at least 2 of 5), North Carolina (at least 1 of 2), Minnesota (1 of 3), Kentucky (1 of 3), California (1 of 2), Colorado (1 of 3), Iowa (2 of 2), aqnd Arizona (2 of 2). As Christopher Walker notes below, attempts at "pack hunting" failed in Nebraska and Nevada. Pack hunting is not pissible in states with a single House member.
While single shots failed in Wyoming, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois (yes, Dan Seals made the radar screens at the end), and New Mexico, the tactic worked for an open seat in Wisconsin. The switch from an independent socialist to a Democrat in Vermont really should not make the count.
Stretching the field in some of these states seem likely to yield success in 2008 and down the road.
In New Jersey, Scott Garrett has gotten a declining percentage in each of his three elections in NJ-5: 60% in 2002, 58% in 2004, and 55% in 2005. Garrett's opponent in 2006 spent a piddling $150 k or so compared to over $800 K by his 2004 opponent. This one was winnable this year. Kerry drew 49% in NJ-2 but Frank Lo Biondo was essentially faced by only token opposition in 2006. In NJ-3, Saxton ran in a 48% Kerry district and got just 56% vs. Sextpn (vs. 63% in 2004). Also worth a challenge.
Similarly, IL-10, IL-11, IL-13, and Il-15 all saw incumbents in the 53% to 58% range without strong backing from the Democrats for their opponents. These could join Il-6 as targets for the future.
Virginia yielded two other strong challenges without muich backing. The surprise was Andy Hurst in the NoVA suburbs. We have great potential here, more really than in VA-2. Judy Feder also ran strong on a shoestring.
I think we should run strong campaigns in New Mexico in 2008 in both Republican districts. it will help the national ticket in a very close state. Maybe Pearce will prove to be the one to drop and Heather Wilson, like Chris Shays just survives everything. Or maybe, it will losen statewide Republican help and concentration and Wilson, like Anne Northrup in Kentucky, will finally fall.
I also wonder if Ohio, without the statewide contests for Governor and Senator, might yield a couple of seats from close races this year.
Open seats proved unimportant or only marginally important to Democratic gains. Republicans lost eight of 21 open seats. But three of those eight were lost due to scandal (Ney, Foley, DeLay). Overall, five of seventeen non-scandal open seats turned over compared to three of three scandal seats. Overall, Democrats won more of their own open seats (11 for 11) than Republican open seats.
Weak congressional candidates proved as vulnerable as open seats. Five Election Day losers were among the small group who finished behind Bush in their own districts. This included all three Indiana losers, Charles Taylor in NC, and Jim Ryun in Kansas.
A Republicaqn split between the Religious Right and mainstreamers hurt in the Plains states of Kansas and possibly Iowa. The Religious Right was given credit by the DesMoines Register for Bush's victory in 2004. The fundies controlled the GOP in Kansas and Democrats smartly have nursed the split and co-opted more moderate types.
Although Republicans still have 24 House seats from the Mid-Atlantic sub-region (NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE), their hold is extremely weak. Democrats may well consolidate these seats in the next decade in the same way that Republicans consolidated their hold on the south following their breakthrough election in 1994.
The Great Lakes area is now pretty much in a flat-footed tie with Republicans dropping from 45 to 39 House seats and Democrats gaining from 32 to 38. This, too, is very fertile ground.
Republicans in the south generally looked very strong. Not only were seats gained in Florida and North carolina but additional opportunities are possible both there and in Virginia. Republicans lost voting share in all seventeen contested districts they had held in Florida, losing two seats in the process. Seven of the remaining sixteen seats were won with totals in the 50-59% range.