Competitive House Races

Everyone should be excited about recent changes in the Cook Political Report's"Competitive House Race Chart" dated 29 June 2006.  Charlie Cook, however, is not the only pollster who handicaps House races.  Other charts can be located at CQ Politics and at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.  While I disagree with all three pollsters on specific races, I believe all of them offer useful information for those of us who try to prognosticate the outcome of the 2006 midterm elections while simultaneously engaging in the impossible task of assessing our present political state of affairs.    

A cursory analysis of the charts offered by our three pollsters reveals certain patterns.  Indeed, the pollsters agree there are presently 15 Republican seats which will most probably switch parties in 2006.  Perhaps this reflects the DCCC's strategy to gain a majority in November, or perhaps our pollsters are assuming the DCCC will be successful this cycle.  But our pollsters also disagree on the competitiveness on a few races, which is why I write this diary.  

Assigning numerical values to each seat depending on how it is ranked by each pollster, I decided to rank each seat based on its overall competitiveness across the three charts provided by Cook, Sabato and CQ Politics.  This allows us to create a more precise topographic map of the House landscape, as seats normally clumped together are separated into different ranks depending on variations in the three charts.  The outcome of my calaculations are printed below, and I am interested in your reactions to the rankings my calculations yield.  Do you feel these pollsters have ignored certain races?  Do you feel certain races are not as competitive as these pollsters claim?  Which seats do you believe will become more competitive?  And how confident are you that candidates now sponsored on the Netroots Page, which everyone should visit, will increase the competitiveness of their respective seats?  

Let us have a debate about the current rankings of House seats, and let us discuss strategy as we try to insert our money and our energy in the 2006 campaign.  Leave plenty of comments, and read the rankings I print below.  Seats on the Netroots page are bolded, and seats presently held by Democrats are italicized.  I have also separated all competitive House races into three tiers.

TIER I (15R, 2D)

1)CO-07 OPEN (Beauprez)
  IN-08 John Hostettler
  IN-09 Mike Sodrel
  IA-01 OPEN (Nussle)
  OH-18 Bob Ney
  PA-06 Jim Gerlach

7)CT-02 Rob Simmons
  CT-04 Chris Shays
  AZ-08 OPEN (Kolbe)
  KY-04 Geoff Davis
  NM-01 Heather Wilson
  NY-24 OPEN (Boehlert)

13)FL-22 Clay Shaw
   IL-06 OPEN (Hyde)
   NC-11 Charles Taylor
   OH-06 OPEN (Strickland)

17)IL-08 Melissa Bean

TIER II (22R, 12D)

18)AZ-05 J.D. Hayworth
   GA-08 Jim Marshall
   GA-12 John Barrow
   IA-03 Leonard Boswell
   LA-03 Charlie Melancon
   MN-06 OPEN (Kennedy)
   OH-15 Deborah Pryce
   PA-08 Michael Fitzpatrick
   TX-17 Chet Edwards
   TX-22 OPEN (DeLay)
   VA-02 Thelma Drake

29)CA-11 Richard Pombo
   OH-01 Steve Chabot

31)IN-02 Chris Chocola
   PA-07 Curt Weldon
   VT-AL OPEN (Sanders)
   WV-01 Alan Mollohan

35)CO-03 John Salazar
   CT-05 Nancy Johnson
   NY-20 John Sweeney
   WA-08 Dave Reichert
   WI-08 OPEN (Green)

40)CA-50 Brian Bilbray
   IL-17 OPEN (Evans)
   NY-29 Randy Kuhl
   OH-13 OPEN (Brown)
   SC-05 John Spratt

45)NV-03 Jon Porter
   NJ-07 Mike Ferguson
   FL-13 OPEN (Harris)

48)CO-04 Marilyn Musgrave
   KY-02 Ron Lewis
   NV-02 OPEN (Gibbons)
   WA-02 Rick Larsen

Tier III (22R, 10D)

52)NY-25 James Walsh

53)PA-10 Don Sherwood

54)KY-03 Anne Northup
   NH-02 Charlie Bass

56)LA-07 Charles Boustany
   MN-02 John Kline

58)FL-08 Ric Keller
   FL-09 OPEN (Bilirakis)
   FL-16 Mark Foley
   IA-02 Jim Leach
   KS-02 Dennis Moore
   MN-01 Gil Gutknecht
   ND-AL Earl Pomeroy
   NY-19 Sue Kelly
   OR-05 Darlene Hooley
   SD-AL Stephanie Herseth
   UT-02 Jim Matheson
   WY-AL Barbara Cubin

70)NH-01 Jeb Bradley

71)CA-04 John Doolittle
   ID-01 OPEN (Otter)
   IL-10 Mark Kirk
   IL-11 Jerry Weller
   IN-07 Julia Carson
   LA-02 Bill Jefferson
   MI-08 Mike Rogers
   MD-03 OPEN (Cardin)
   NC-08 Robin Hayes
   NY-27 Brian Higgins
   PA-04 Melissa Hart
   TN-04 Lincoln Davis
   WV-02 Shelley Moore Capito


According to Sabato, Cook and CQPolitics, there are 59 competitive Republican seats and 24 competitive Democratic seats, and the number of "toss-ups" or Tier I races bode well for Democrats in 2006.  But what do you find problematic about their charts?  What seats should be included, and which should be eliminated?  Which should be demoted, and which should be promoted?  How many seats do you believe we will win?

Remember these are not my predictions; the chart above is based on calculations which consider rankings provided by Sabato, Cook and CQPolitics.

Tags: 2006, Cook Political Report, CQ Politics, House, Sabato's Crystal Ball (all tags)



Re: Competitive House Races

Does anyone seriously believe we will lose LA-02 or IN-07?  I do not, and I wish CQPolitics would remove these races from their chart.

by illinois062006 2006-06-30 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

if jefferson is in there till the december runoffs we could, but most likely he will not run for re-election, and if he does, i think some NO councilman is running and he will beat them in the DEM PV + 28 district.

Carson has been weak, i think she only got about %% % of the vote or so last time, running 5 points behind kerry. theres a reason its at the end, we wont lose it, its one of those races they republicans could win in a wave going their way.  But remember, its next to PA - 04 , which similarly he dont really have any chance of winning

by yomoma2424 2006-06-30 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

I am personally surprised the DCCC has not made Anne Northup's seat more competitive.

by illinois062006 2006-06-30 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

its because its a split district dem/repub wise, the candidate isnt that strong(an alternative weekly newspaper editor), and northrup is a strong campaigner. she will probably run for bunning's open seat in 2010.  Other republican reps who will probably be aiming to move up in the next few cycles include Porter, Rehberg, Candice Miller, heather wilson, sue myrick, tom davis, martha blackburn, henry bonilla

by yomoma2424 2006-06-30 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

the district still has more democrats than republicans.  and if this district was ever to tilt, it would be in this cycle.  and i am not sure what sue myrick would pursue in 2008, unless she believes she can beat elizabeth dole in the primary.  but if the dccc invested time, money and staff in kentucky 03, i believe they can win this race.

by illinois062006 2006-06-30 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

last i hear, myrick was thinking of running for governor because easley is term limited

by yomoma2424 2006-06-30 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Myrick has said she will not run for Gov. in '08.

by Bear83 2006-07-01 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

no way is Cardin's seat going to go Republican. the filing deadline is Monday, and there isn't one credible Republican candidate.

by johnny longtorso 2006-06-30 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

I agree.  I guess CQ lists it as it is an open seat.

by illinois062006 2006-06-30 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

there actually is one credible candidate, i hear, a doctor who has raised a good amount of money. remember, because of the dem gerrymander of maryland, its democratic seats but they arent strong dem seats. cardins seat for instance is only 55 or so % democratic. so in a better year for republicans it would be a hotly contested one. but i see that race being a sleeper and being closer than people think, while some of the top tier races now falling much further down the map, like Barrow's race in Georgia

by yomoma2424 2006-06-30 05:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

marshall, who recently was awarded an important military award, and spratt should also fall.  i imagine salazar's race will be considered less competitive in a month.  and charlie wilson's race in ohio 06 should also be downgraded.

by illinois062006 2006-06-30 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

salazar's race is already falling off the map. it isnt really seen as competitive anymore, becuase Reynolds didnt get a good candidate out there. They are running some guy named tipton.

by yomoma2424 2006-06-30 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

So I went over those 3 websites, Cook seems the most accurate to me. CQ has lacked updates over the last month or two and it feels  a little dates. Virginia's Center for Politics I have never seen before but it feels like it has a slight Republican tilt to it.

I like Hotline's race ranking as well, but they are only updated once every 4 weeks.

I do think CQ is missing a few important races (NC-08, TX-21, TX-14, NE-01) and some Dem races can drop (The Dakotas are off the chart in my books due to poor Republican recruiting efforts).

Still, 14 Republican toss ups, + the possibility of no Republican candidate of in TX-22 looks like the House is starting to fall our way. Just wish we could get 30 seats and have a full house reversal.

by Trowaman 2006-07-01 12:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

cq has updated their charts.  for example, they promoted va-02 just a couple of days ago, and they regularly inform readers of any changes to their scorecard.  yes, sabato does have republican leanings, although he would never admit it.  cook is obviously the most rigorous, but one cannot discount the others.  indeed, any knowledge the republicans may disseminate to sabato affects his ratings, and we should account for this when analyzing the house landscape.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 12:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

tx-21 and tx14 will not be competitive.

by yomoma2424 2006-07-01 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races
TX-21 is not competitive? Then why did Lamar Smith get "Does Lamar Smith Deserve Reelection? 31%, Consider someone else? 60%". It has to be one of the most overlooked races in the country. TX-14, on the otherhand, I agree, it'll be fun to try there but I don't think the dems have a realistic shot at winning here.
Plus, NE-01 and especially NC-08 are definetely competitive.
by KainIIIC 2006-07-01 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

They forgot about the PA-09th, Tony Barr gains supporters everyday.  Nobody pays attention to this district but a big change is coming.

Learn more at

by DvilleDem 2006-07-01 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

PA-09 is the most GOP district in Pennsylvania. R+15 - that is miracle territory.

by DavidNYC 2006-07-01 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

In Georgia, Marshall's seat will remain very competitive throughout.  The district went 63% for Bush, but Jim is a very conservative Democrat, and is well known.  Barrow is in better shape; the district went narrowly for Bush in '04, and even here, Dubya is way down from where he was.

by CLLGADEM 2006-07-01 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Did not Marshall recently receive a very important military honor?

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

He may have.  He is a decorated Vietnam vet, and has been supportive (unfortunately) of our current policy in Iraq.  

by CLLGADEM 2006-07-01 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Nothing on that on his website yet.  Most of it dates back to his 2004 race.  In that, he was one of the few Democrats still being endorsed by Zell Miller.  No word on whether that will still be true this year, though I doubt it.  Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, now running for governor, was Zell's floor leader in the state Senate during the 90's.  Zig-Zag is now doing voiceovers in GOP Gov. Perdue's re-election ads.  

by CLLGADEM 2006-07-01 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

NC-08 deserves to be higher than #71.  We're gonna win that one.  Registration is 51% Dem.  Hayes' numbers have no room to go up - Ind voters in the distict want a change and won't support Hayes.

The only thing Hayes has going for him is his very large personal fortune. It won't be large enough.

by Bear83 2006-07-01 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

I imagine Cook, Sabato and CQ Politics will direct more attention to this race in late July.  This race will dramatically rise in the rankings.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 07:50AM | 0 recs
I agree with NC-08

I think it should be higher, but I also think they are waiting for $$ numbers from this quarter.  Ya'll know from my diaries I love Larry and I'm close enough to the 8th I know what a  great candidate he is for this district.

Robin Hayes tends to bury his opponents with TV ads, but I just don't know if it's going to help this time.  Just about everybody and their brother and sister can tell you about his CAFTA vote and the lie that went along with it.

Hayes is in trouble and I'm pretty sure he knows it.  Larry is about to get some key endorsements from what I hear so I think fundraising will continue to pick up.

by The Southern Dem 2006-07-01 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Overall the ratings look pretty good. I don't see the NY freshman Higgins in any trouble at all.  As far as the 59R 24D divide and the poster hoping for a reversal in the house, it is a real probability! In a Democratic year two of three Democratic competitive incumbant seats should be kept. That is a loss of 8D seats.  The Republicans would only be expected to successfully protect one in three of their competitive seats or 39 losses to 20 defenses.  This would be a net gain of 31 seats for the Democrats and a 234 to 201 Democratic House!

by politics64 2006-07-01 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Have they even recruited anyone to take on Higgins?

by DavidNYC 2006-07-01 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

hell would have to freeze over, like it did in '94, for Rick Larsen to lose in WA-02.

by lorax 2006-07-01 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

not necc, hes got a good opponent, and while i dont think hell lose, its a marginally democratic seat so it wouldnt take a republican wave to defeat him, but  it needs to be a neutral environment for him to lose, which most likely will not be there in November

by yomoma2424 2006-07-01 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Hell isn't freezing over.  It' melting.  Global warming is a bitch.

by Bear83 2006-07-01 01:56PM | 0 recs

From Ron Gunzberger's Politics1:

District 2:
Bill Jefferson (D)* - (Campaign Site)
Dale Atkins (D) - New Orleans Civil Court Clerk
Lambert Boissiere III (D) - State Public Service Commissioner
Karen Carter (D) - State Rep.
Troy Carter (D) - Ex-New Orleans City Councilor
Ann Duplessis (D) - State Sen.
Marlin Gusman (D) - New Orleans Criminal Sheriff
Ed Murray (D) - State Sen.
Ray Nagin (D) - New Orleans Mayor
Cedric Richmond (D) - State Rep.
Derrick Shepherd (D) - State Sen.
Joe Lavigne (R) - Attorney & Community Activist

Interestingly, Oliver Thomas is not listed.  But Ann Duplessis is, and I believe she would make an excellent Congresswoman.  But can you imagine Ray Nagin in Congress?  Karen Carter, by the way, is DLC.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-02

All candidates except Lavigne and Jefferson are considered potential candidates.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Only one thing would make my dream of a Democratic tsunami sweeter. I mean seeing victories for Democrats in 40 or 50 Republican-held seats would even feel better if some of the endangered Democratic incumbents who consistently support Bush's reactionary agenda also went down to defeat at the same time. This might make elected Democrats understand that people vote for them because they want congressmen to stand up for consumers and workers, not for Big Business and multimillionaires. As long as Democrats win big-- and we don't need them for voting for House reorganization (which is all any of them are good for anyway)-- I'd love to see traitors like Melissa Bean, Jim Marshall, John Barrow, Leonard Boswell, Charlie Melancon, Chet Edwards, and Jim Matheson lose their seats. Almost all the endangered Democratic incumbents are relative reactionaries-- there are a couple of exceptions, for whom the DCCC is not lifting a finger, by the way-- while many of the endangered GOP incumbents are complete wingnuts, like the 3 kooks in Indiana, Drake, both North Carolina jackasses, Kline, Ney, Hayworth, Gerlach, Cubin, Musgrave,  Doolittle, etc.

And where the hell is Pombo on this list? The only poll in the district shows McNerney beating him. I know Rahm Emanuel doesn't want to contest this one because he's so embarrassed that McNerney slaughtered his handpicked shill candidate in the primary but, despite Emanuel, this could be a major Democratic pick-up, getting rid of the worst threat to the environment in the entire Congress and replacing him with an alternative energy expert who is also independent-minded (sorry Rahm) and truly progressive. In fact, McNerney is a new addition to the combined netroots page and if you're in the mood... go over there and lend Jerry a hand (and give Pombo and Emanuel the finger).

by DownWithTyranny 2006-07-01 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Pombo is ranked the 29th most vulnerable incumbent.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 04:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Yes, also get rid of some more too. Get rid of Gene Taylor, Dan Boren, Bud Cramer, Collin Peterson, Mike McIntrye, Cueller, John Tanner, Allen Boyd, Lincoln Davis, Tim Holden, John Murtha and Solomon Ortiz, because I mean, afterall, they're all more conservative than Chet Edwards, even Murtha, and no one has a more difficult district than him.

While we're at it, lets get rid of Marion Berry, Bart Gordon, Alan Mollohan, Jim Cooper, Mike Ross, Jim Costa, Stephanie Herseth, Sanford Bishop, Jerry Costello, David Scott, Michael Doyle, Silvestre Reyes, Dennis Cardoza, Ben Chandler, John Salazar, Earl Pomeroy, Adam Smith, Dennis Moore, Rick Boucher, Ed Case, Ruben Hinojosa and Bob Ethridge. Afterall, They're all more conservative than Melissa Bean.

In fact, lets boot all the Democrats out and let them loose. They aren't 100% what we want them to be. And I hope how ridiculous you sound.

by KainIIIC 2006-07-01 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

*I hope you realize how ridiculous you sound

by KainIIIC 2006-07-01 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Check out Superribbie's very similar DKos diary from a little while ago. There are six "pro" prognosticators:

CQ, Roll Call (Rothenberg), Cook, National Journal (Todd), WaPo (Cillizza), and Sabato.

However, because Sabato has apparently not updated in some time, Superribbie left him out of his June calculations, which you can find here: /22/144510/891

by DavidNYC 2006-07-01 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Actually, sabato updated his site on 29 June.  perhaps you need to visit it and get in touch with the latest developments.  because i do not read daily kos, i am not aware of any other diary.  but thank you for directing readers to another post.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 06:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

all three of the pollsters i cite updated their scorecards on 29june, and i am pretty confident the chart above exemplifies what many would call conventional wisdom on the present state of affairs in the house landscape.  but thank you for invading my diary and directing everyone's attention elsewhere.  sometimes i wonder why i bother contributing to online discourse.  thank you for demonstrating once again why many find blogs a very unwelcoming environment.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

You're awfully prickly, aren't you?

Nowhere did David say: "Hey, ignore this crap diary and check out Superribble's".  He basically just said--hey, look, there's another diary much like this, check it out and compare/contrast if you want to.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-07-01 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

i apologize.  But certain actions are overdetermined.

by illinois062006 2006-07-01 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

not to be mean, but that sentence does not really make sense

there is absolutely nothing wrong with this either way, I beg you not to take offense at this question: is English not your first language?

perhaps much of your rudeness/abrasiveness is due to language barriers as opposed to attitude?

by njfellow 2006-07-09 11:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Do you even know who you're talking to like that? What is your problem? I'm glad I'm not the only one youre so disrespectful to...

WOW-If you could be 1/10th the blogger, Democrat, activist, intellectual, or ANYTHING that DavidNYC is...we'd be a lucky website to have you.

by njfellow 2006-07-09 11:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Hey, shouldn't you be doing NY Bar Review? Get back to work!

by adamterando 2006-07-01 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

I hadn't been hearing anything about CO-03 so I was a little surprised to see it listed as Tier 2 competitive. I remembered that John Salazar was on the DCCC's list of 10 'endangered incumbents,' but I actually hadn't taken that too seriously. I mean, they list Stephanie Herseth, too. Her opponent's raised 4 % of her warchest.

But I was just checking 1st quarter FEC figures. Salazar's opponent has a lot of money. He reported just under a million bucks on hand at the end of the 1st quarter.  Salazar reported just over a million himself. Does it take a million to win CO-03? I know it's a huge district. Colorado got a bit bluer in the 2004 cycle; I'd hate to see any of those gains erode. It was almst the only good news we got, that year.

by Christopher Walker 2006-07-01 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races

Cook moved it back to "Likely Democrat", Rothenburg took it off of his list.

by KainIIIC 2006-07-01 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Competitive House Races:IN-2

I suppose that IN-2 is where it is because of the mass quantities of cash at Rep. Chocola's disposal.  Not only does he have his own fortune (double digit millions)and the six figures he pulled in from President Bush's February visit, there are two rumors currently circulating that he is going to get $600,000 from the RNCC and yet another visit from Bush in October.  With this much behind him, I wonder why he is still in the middle of the second tier?

Possibly because all of the money in the world has not blinded the people of the second district to his voting record, his ties to big business and special interests, and the similiarities between him and Gov. Daniels; specifically their indifference to the wants and needs of their consitituents.  Joe Donnelly is poised to pull off a real surprise in November; with or without help from the DCCC.  Chocola is not treating Donnelly like a second tier opponent and I would wager that if a poll were taken today the race would be a dead heat with Donnelly possibly a few points ahead.

by aguila del norte 2006-07-02 06:13AM | 0 recs


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