Friday, December 24, 2010

House Democrats in trouble (part V)

Bill Owens has represented New York's 23rd District since he won a special election in 2009 to replace a Republican who went on to be Secretary of the Army. The 23rd, centered around Watertown, has been a GOP bastion since the Civil War and it was a bit of a quirk that Owens won in the first place. The local GOP warlords nominated a very liberal Republican for the 2009 special election who was simply too far left and ended up dropping out and endorsing Owens when she realized she would come in a distant third to the Democrat and the Conservative Party nominee. In 2010 there still wasn't a combined GOP/Conservative candidate and that split helped Owens get over the top again with a very weak 48% of the vote (the GOP and the Conservative candidates combined for about 51% of the vote). New York is losing a House seat so it will be interesting to see how the 23rd's lines move around. In any case, Owens will be in stiff fight if he wishes to defend his seat in the 2012 cycle.

Jim Matheson is a very lonely Democrat in Utah; there simply aren't that many left. He's a moderate member of the caucus who received a bit under 51% of the vote in this cycle-way under his average of about 55%. Utah will pick up a seat in redistricting and I'm sure they'll try to make Matheson's seat even redder than it is (it is dark red-like the rest of the state) and end up winning all four seats.

Gerry Connolly came within a few hundred votes of losing in his northern Virginia district in 2010. Easily elected to a first term in 2008, he had replaced the moderate Republican Tom Davis who had held the seat for years. CD 11 had been turning more and more purple over the years and Connolly was able to ride that wave in the 08 cycle. However, most of the state of Virginia has been in a general state of revolt against several Administration policies and has turned deep red in the last two years. CD 11 was ground zero in 2010 with Gerry Connolly basically comparing his opponent to the antiChrist and was able to control the narrative enough to survive by the skin of his teeth. The GOP will conttrol the redistricting process in the state and I'm sure they'll find a way to make Connolly's district a little less friendly to him.

Ron Kind has been the congressman for Wisconsin's 3rd District since 1996. A liberal who protrays himself as a moderate and generally stays way under the radar survived a strong challenge in the 2010 cycle but he received a very weak 50% of the vote in his western Wisconsin district. Slightly blue, the seats runs from Eau Claire in the north all the way to the Illiniois line, straddling the Mississippi River all the way down. If the GOP can find the right challenger I believe Ron Kind could find himself in very desperate straits-especially if the Badger State becomes one of the great battlegrounds of the 2012 cycle.

With Republicans controlling so many state legislatures I agree with the ultra-Yoda like Mike Barone and believe that the GOP will pick up between 10-15 more House seats in the next cycle. If they do end up with more than 250, if would be the first time since the 1920s that the Republicans will have that kind of advantage in the Lower Chamber.

Merry Christmas,

The Snitch

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jim Webb to retire?

Virginia Democrats are praying Jim Webb decides to run again as they know he's probably he only member of their party who has any shot at winning the seat. The GOP will be gunning to win no matter if Webb runs again or not and if I had to bet I'd say he'll pass on another campaign. Webb defeated Republican George Allen by a little more than 8,000 votes in the Democratic year of 2006 and the GOP feels strongly that they should be able to regain the seat as the state is turning red again. Webb hasn't really raised any money and he's not enamored with being in the Upper Chamber so I believe he'll pass on a hard, expensive fight in 2012.


The Snitch

Democrats in trouble in 2012 (Part IV)

Pennsylvania's Democrats took a beating in 2010, losing five House seats, an open Senate seat and the governorship. You might think that they couldn't lose any additional seats in 2012 but they'll be three lawmakers that will be in great danger in the next cycle. Jason Altmire (CD4), Mark Critz (CD 12) and Tim Holden (CD 17).

Altimre's district is just west of Pittsburgh and is a bit red, having voted for Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008. He won reelection with a weak 51% against an underfunded opponent and the GOP in the state legislature who control the redistricting process will ensure that more conservative neighborhoods are drawn into his district for the 2012 cycle.

Critz has one of the more gerrymandered districts in the country and its centered around Johnstown. This seat was drawn specifically to protect the late John Murtha but there won't be any reason to do it again now that Critz has taken over. Critz won by less than 2% of the vote and the district is surrounded by red areas that the stete legislature will be able to include for the next cycle.

Tim Holden won 56% of the vote in this rural east-central district. A true moderate, he's got a lot of support from all segments of the political spectrum which have kept him in power. There's no reason to believe that the GOP legislature won't drastically rewrite the districts lines and make his seat much redder for the 2012 cycle. Moreover, he'll have to introduce himself to a large part of this new district in a year that will probably be very tough for Pennsylvania Democrats.

The Keystone State will lose a seat in a congressional seat in the reapportionment and it will almost certainly be at the expense of one or more Democratic legislators. You'll see this scenario play out in quite a few states; Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia-just to name a few.


The Snitch

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Democrats in trouble (Part III)

North Carolina was a bit of a disapointment for the GOP as they were only able to flip one of four vulnerable House seats. While they did well in contests for the state legislature they were unable to beat Mike McIntyre (CD 7) and Larry Kissell (CD 8). District 7 is in the southeastern part of the state and 8 is south-central. Both districts voted for Bush in 2004 but Obama was able to carry CD 8 in 2008 while McCain took CD 7. Kissell was thought to be especially vulnerable as he was a first-termer which had elected a Republican to the House for several cycles before 2008. In CD 7, McIntyre hadn't had a close election since 1996 but was targeted by the national GOP in the 2010 cycle. In the end, Kissell received 53% and McIntyre got 54%; respectable totals for a terrible cycle for the Democrats.

However, the GOP will control the entire redistricting process in the Tar Heel State for the 2012 election. While Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008 there is almost no chance he'll be able to repeat his victory in any state south of the Mason-Dixon line. I strongly suspect both Kissell and McIntyre will have much redder districts to defend in the cycle and it wouldn't be surprising to see them both go down two years from now.


The Snitch

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stabenow and McCaskill in deep trouble

Debbie Stabenow is in deep trouble in Michigan. An average legislator with good timing (elected in 2006 and reelected in the Democratic wave of 2006) she's in for the fight of her life in 2012. With plenty of Republicans who have good name recognition and such a high dissatisfaction with the President by the average Michigan voter she's highly vulnerable. Unless the Republicans nominate somebody totally unacceptable Stabenow should lose.

Claire McCaskill is in even greater danger. Scraping by in 2006 over Jim Talent she's rapidly becoming a conservative to make herself electable but this strategy is ultimately pointless. I'll say it right now-there is no way she's reelected. Missouri has turned brighly red and there's no reason to think it will be any different in 2012. Roy Blunt, an average GOP candidate, destroyed his Democratic opponent last month carrying every area of Missouri except for metro St. Louis and Kansas City. Like Michigan there are plenty of quality GOP opponents and they'll be rapidly announcing their candidacies in the next few months.


The Snitch

15 House Democrats in trouble (cont.)

-MI 9 (Peters)
It was a minor miracle that Gary Peters survived in the sea of red that was Michigan on November 2. He faced a strong, well organized opponent in a district that routinely elected Republicans. Peters seemed like a sure loser but escaped and won by 3% over Rocky Raczkowski. The district takes up most of Oakland County, one of the classic swing areas not only of Michigan but of the entire country and is generally a good indicator of how a party will fare. For some reason, however, Peters was able to scrape by and received about 50% of the total vote. He wasn't particularly strong and Rocky was a solid opponent which should have been enough to knock him off. The GOP-controlled legislature will ensure that this district is more red for the 2012 cycle and I wouldn't rule out a rematch between these two foes.

-MN 1 (Walz)
Tim Walz was first elected in the Democratic wave of 2006 when he beat Gil Gutknecht (who won in the 1994 GOP wave) and should have been more vulnerable than he was in this district filled with political independents. However, his GOP opponent, Randy Demmer was weak and underfunded but he still held Walz to just 50% of the total vote. If the congressional lines don't change much and the Republicans can find a well-funded challenger early enough Walz will be in grave danger in 2012. Even though the GOP lost the governor's race this year they've got total control of the state legislature for the first time in a generation and will be gunning to win again in 2012. Minnesota will be ground zero for the presidential race, a contested Senate seat, and CD 1, which stretches all the way across southern Minnesota from the Wisconsin border all the way out to South Dakota.


The Snitch