Republicans Have Advantage In Holding House Majority
Republicans Have Advantage In Holding House Majority
By Michael R. Davis
- GOP likely to hold House, 95 races in either "Competitive" or "Tossup" category on our House Race Ratings
- Democrats need to win at least 15 of 20 "Tossup" races to think about majority
- California and Illinois are states to watch where Democrats are favored
- North Carolina and New York are key states for GOP holding majority
- To have a realistic chance at majority, Democrats need to defeat 25-30 GOP incumbents
- Rep. Allen West has raised the most money in a competitive House race - over $15 million
While the bigger fights on election night are the battle for the White House and control of the Senate, the reshuffling of chairs in the House following redistricting has resulted in many changes. The numbers game of the 435 seats up for election give Republicans a clear advantage in maintaining control of the House. For Democrats, gaining seats is a possibility, but they will likely fall short of the net gain of 25 seats needed to win back the majority. Republicans currently have control with a 242 to 193 margin over Democrats, assuming all 5 seats currently vacant hold with the party last holding the seat.
All of the most recent polls show that neither Republicans nor Democrats enjoy an advantage on the generic congressional ballot question (Which party would you prefer control Congress?). Along with a competitive presidential contest where either Pres. Obama (D) or Gov. Romney (R) could win, where control for the Senate is up in the air, the generic congressional ballot further indicates that this is not a wave election for either party. Without the benefits of a wave (like Republicans enjoyed in 2010 and Democrats in 2006), Democrat chances are further eroded at this late stage.
Here is one quick version for Democrats to win at least 218 seats and a House majority:
- Hold all the currently held Democrat seats where the Democrat candidate is favored (168)
- Win all the Democrat favored newly drawn districts due to redistricting with no incumbent running (7 for a total of 175)
- Defeat all Republican held seats in Democrat favored districts (7 for a total of 182)
- Win at least 75% of the tossup races (15 for a total of 197)
- Save almost half of the Republican favored districts that is either a new district, member versus member or currently Democrat held seat (5 for a total of 202)
- Win 50% of the seats currently held by Republicans rated as "Competitive - GOP Favored" (18 for a total of (220)
On our House Race Ratings, 95 are listed as either "Competitive" or "Tossup" contests (plus 2 interesting California races where 2 Democrats face each other). A closer look at the breakdowns gives you an idea of the difficulties Democrats face in winning back a majority.
Races rated as "Tossup":
- Of the 20 races listed as Tossup, Republicans currently hold 12 seats to 7 for Democrats plus 1 race where a Democrat incumbent faces a Republican incumbent.
- 6 of the 12 Republicans were first elected in 2010 while 2 of the 7 Democrats are freshman. Freshman can often be the most vulnerable since they have yet to fully entrench themselves in their district.
- Republican freshman in heated contests to keep an eye on: Rep. West (R, FL-18), Rep. Cravaak (R, MN-08), Rep. Bass (R, NH-02), Rep. Heck (R, NV-03), Rep. Gibson (R, NY-19) and Rep. Canseco (TX-23). West, Bass and Heck are also in highly competitive presidential states and will be impacted by the closeness of that contest.
- Democrat freshman races to watch: Rep. Hochul (D, NY-27) and Rep. Cicilline (D, RI-01). Hochul is looking for her first full term after winning a special election to replace Rep. Lee (R) and Cicilline is fighting off scandals against a credible challenger, Brendan Doherty (R).
- With poll numbers tightening in the presidential and senate races in the Keystone State, the one tossup House race to watch is in PA-12. Rep. Mark Critz (D) survived a member versus member primary battle against Rep. Jason Altmire (D) and now faces a tough and expensive battle against Keith Rothfus in this Southwest district.
- In OH-16, Rep. Renacci (R) faces off against Rep. Sutton (D) in one of only two Republican incumbent versus Democrat incumbent battles due to redistricting. A swing district with two incumbents in a highly competitive presidential state plus a U.S. Senate race means that every vote is being fiercely fought after. It also means this just might end up being the most expensive House race in the country.
- Another contender for most expensive House race is in CA-07 between Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and Ami Bera (D). Bera has a bigger presence on TV in this Sacramento based district.
- The bottom line for Democrats is that they need to win 15 of these 20 races to see a net gain of 10 seats to even remotely entertain the idea of winning majority. Possible, but that will be a difficult task.
Races rated as "Competitive - Democrat Favored":
- Republican freshman in Illinois were targeted in redistricting by Democrats and some gains here are likely. Rep. Walsh (R, IL-08) faces a tough fight in a high profile race against Tammy Duckworth (D). Rep. Dold (R, IL-10) retained only 60% of his old district and the new district went for Obama in 2008 with 63% total. Rep. Schilling (R, IL-17) is the most likely Republican to turn back a Democrat challenger of the several Illinois Republicans in tough races.
- 8 races in this category are in California (2 feature 2 Democrats). With California's new Citizen Redistricting Commission and new Top Two primary system, the House races in the biggest delegation will now feature more competitive/interesting races than in the past. The top races featuring incumbents are Garamendi (D, CA-03) and Stark (D, CA-15).
- Arizona, Florida and Nevada each gained a seat (2 in Florida) as a result of reapportionment and totals 4 new districts where no incumbent is present. The competitiveness of the AZ-09 contest between Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Vernon Parker (R) is now as intense as any other new district race. Each of the 3 other new districts feature at least 1 well-known candidate in the race. In FL-09, former member Alan Grayson (D) faces Todd Long (R). Rising Florida star Adam Hasner (R) faces Lois Frankel in FL-22. Danny Tarkanian (R) and Steven Horsford (D) are in a nasty battle in NV-04. Tarkanian is the son of the former UNLV basketball coach.
- Two Republican incumbents face tough fights largely due to changes made in their district resulting from new lines. Neither Rep. Bartlett (R, MD-06) nor Rep. Buerkle (R, NY-24) are going to find help up ballot, so they need to win over some Democrats to win.
- In WA-06, keep an eye on Derek Kilmer (D). He has a track record of working across aisles to move jobs/economic issues forward, which is clearly something we need more of in the 113th Congress.
Races rated as "Competitive - Republican Favored":
- While Republicans are hurt in Illinois as a result of redistricting, Democrats in North Carolina face the same fate. Rep. Shuler (D, NC-11) and Rep. Miller (D, NC-13) decided not to run while Rep. McIntyre (D, NC-07) and Rep. Kissell (D, NC-08) are in uphill battles for re-election. The North Carolina delegation is likely to move from 7-6 Democrat to 9-4 or even 10-3 Republican. The biggest defeat here is for the Blue Dog Coalition.
- A district that will trend more Democrat over the decade is that of Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R, CA-36). If Raul Ruiz (D) is able to win this year, Democrats may be closer to a net gain of 25 than thought possible.
- With polls closing first in the nation, watch the victory margin in IN-02 between Jackie Walorski (R) and Brendan Mullen (D). A double digit Walorski victory likely means the GOP holds the House while a tight contest (1 or 2 point margin) means Democrats are still in the hunt.
- Republican freshman in New York look to survive. Rep. Grimm (R, NY-11), Rep. Hayworth (R, NY-18), and Rep. Hanna (R, NY-22) all are locked in competitive races, but are in position to win.
- Democrats will need to pull out some upsets to have a chance a majority. Races to look at would be in:CA-10 - Rep. Jeff Denham (R) versus Jose Hernandez (D)
- CO-03 - Rep. Scott Tipton (R) versus Sal Pace (D)
- FL-26 - Rep. David Rivera (R) versus Joe Garcia (D)
- GA-12 - Lee Anderson (R) versus Rep. John Barrow (D)
- MI-11 - Kerry Bentivolio (R) versus Syed Taj (D)
- NE-02 - Rep. Lee Terry (R) versus John Ewing (D) - Obama won this 1 electoral vote in 2008
- WI-07 - Rep. Sean Duffy (R) versus Pat Kreitlow (D)
Often times elections are about math and the math of the 2012 House elections is on the side of Republicans. Big gains in 2010 followed by redistricting have given Republicans a numbers advantage that will likely prove too difficult for Democrats to overcome this November. Unless Democrats can somehow defeat 25 to 30 sitting Republicans, majority is likely out of reach this election cycle.
Additional resources to look at for House, Senate and Gubernatorial races: