2.23.2008

House ratings: As many more races get competitive, Democrats keep a clear edge

Now that the primaries are slowly quieting down and that delegate calculation are no longer a full time job, we can get back to the joy of ranking congressional races. My last House rankings came in mid-November, and the 4 months that have passed since then have been a political eternity. There have been a number of high-profile retirements, including the first Democrat to retire from a competitive seat in OR-05; but open seats are clearly a Republican headache in this cycle, with many GOP congressmen calling it quits since November, some of them in districts that Democrats are already salivating over (such as NY-25 and VA-11). And while many retirements are in districts that look safe for the GOP (LA-06 and KY-02, for example), their cumulated impact forces the NRCC to play defense and stretches Republican resources even further .

Both parties have also scored recruitment coups in the past few months, and gotten some disappointing news. Here again, the GOP has much more to worry about; it even finds itself without a candidate in IL-11, an open seat that has sky-rocketed at the top of the Democratic priority list. But Republicans also have some bright spots: They for instance convinced former Rep. Anne Northup to run for her old seat in KY-03 and are keeping NM-01 much more competitive than many observers expected. And Republicans got encouraging news in December when they successfully defended two districts in special elections, particularly in OH-05 where the DCCC believed it could snatch a seat away.

Overall, all this movement is pushing many more races towards the top of these ratings and we should expect a few more surprises before the retirement and recruitment season comes to a close. We should already get a better sense of the mood of the country and what to expect in November with two special elections in the coming weeks in IN-07 and IL-14.

I have only written full descriptions of seats that have made news over the past month. For detailed descriptions of the other races, check last month's rankings. Only a few seats saw their rating change in the past month. I indicated upgraded or downgraded next to them to indicate whether they became more vulnerable or less vulnerable for the incumbent party. Here is the quick run-down:

  • Less vulnerable: CA-04, NY-19, PA-06, OH-18
  • More vulnerable: FL-21, IL-11, IL-14, KY-02, KY-03, LA-06, MD-01, MO-09, NJ-03, NY-25, OR-05, PA-11, VA-11
  • Off the list: OH-05
Outlook: Democrats pick-up 9-14 seats.

Full ratings are available here.

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