House playing field grows, Republican opportunities increase

January 15, 2010

From The Fix: “… The Cook Political Report currently ranks 50 races in its most competitive categories while the Rothenberg Report pegs that number at 34. Regardless of which number you choose, the opportunity is almost all on the Republican side; Cook counts 40 Democratic races in his competitive 50 (80 percent) while Rothenberg has 30 Democratic seats in his top 34 (88 percent). There are three mains reasons for Democrats’ significant exposure in the coming midterm election. First, history is against them. The first midterm election of a president’s first term is almost always characterized by House losses in the mid-teens (and often higher). Remember that the Republican wave election in which the GOP picked up 54 seats and took back the majority came in 1994 — the first midterm of President Bill Clinton’s first term. Second, the party is a victim of its own success. In 2006 and 2008 Democrats picked up better than 50 seats in the House — often winning in places like Idaho and southern Alabama. By demographics alone, many of the 49 districts represented by Democrats but carried by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in 2008 should move back to the GOP column this fall. Finally, while it was always going to be hard for Democrats to consolidate their gains even in a neutral political environment, the fact that the national landscape has tilted against them makes their job all the more challenging in November. As a result, Democratic-held seats dominate the new 20-race strong Line. As always, the number one ranked contest is considered the most likely to switch sides in the fall. …”
Read Chris Cilizza’s Full Post and View His Rankings Here.