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Author Topic: Analysis of House Races- 2004  (Read 29950 times)
Ryan
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« on: November 12, 2003, 03:10:20 pm »
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Though most of our interest in taken up by the Presidential race, I myself and I'm guessing a lot of the rest spend a lot of time analysing individual House and Senate races. Northerndog has another link for senate races but this one is dedicated to people's evaluation of individual House races in 2004. I'm looking at evaluations similar to the ones we have had for the last round of gubernatorial races.
For those who don't have enough info to work with; I recommend the evaluation on the following link;

http://www.cookpolitical.com/display.cfm?section=political&edit_id=233

Needless to say it would be preferable to restrict oneself to neutral evaluations of likely election results and not to state one's opinions of and especially not to attack incumbents or challengers. Obviously if there are allegations which will definitely have an effect on the race that is an exception. Otherwise please make a separate thread.

Look forward to some good old fashioned crystal ball stuff Smiley

PS. Even if you have enough info, check out the link, this is one of my favorite sites. Info is a bit out of date but among the most comprehensive you will find anywhere.
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2003, 08:50:04 pm »
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I don't expect much excitement in the House races, the number of competitive seats is at an all time low, mostly as a result of a redistricting cycle that focused on incumbent protection, (only one competitive seat in CA!).  Incumbents typically win reelection at >98% (in 2002 only 4 incumbents lost to a challengers, though due to redistricting, 4 others lost in districts in which 2 incumbents faced each other).  The real action is usually in open seats, in 2002 6/31 open seats switched party.  So far 2004 has a low number of open seats (this site tracks open seats:
http://www.dcpoliticalreport.com/OpenSeat.htm
Only 6 Democrats and 10 Republicans are retiring or running for another office.
Although there is likely to be only about 2 dozen competitive races, here is Roll Call's top 10 endangered incumbents:
Rodney Alexander, Democrat (LA-5)
Max Burns, Republican (GA-12)
John Hostettler, Republican (IN-8)
Bill Janklow, Republican (SD-AL)
Ken Lucas, Democrat (KY-4)
Jim Marshall, Democrat (GA-3)
Jim Matheson, Democrat (UT-2)
Dennis Moore, Democrat (KS-3)
Rick Renzi, Republican (AZ-1)
Mike Rogers, Republican (AL-3)
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2003, 04:39:23 am »
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Another site to try is: www.dcpoliticalreport.com

Anyhow Sachs(who rates races by entertainment value!) has rated the following as "Very Entertaining":

AL 03
AZ 01
CA 03
CA 20
FL 14
FL 16
GA 06
GA 08
IA 02
KA 03
KY 03
LA 05
MO 03
NC 05
PA 15
SC 04
WV 02

And the following as "Exciting":

CO 03
CO 07
GA 11
GA 12
OK 02
SD-al
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Ryan
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2003, 11:17:34 am »
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Okay people lets start getting into specifics. What's everyone's opinion of  the most likely turnovers for the GOP and Democrats- The most vulnerable seat held by a member of both parties.

My vote for most vulnerable Republican seat may be a bit of a surprise. Its John Hostettler, (IN-8)
This seat is called the bloody eight cause of its high turnover but Hostettler has held it for three terms....mostly due to dumb luck. (he has faced the worst possible opponents each time)

Over his terms he immediately alienated liberals, later gained dislike of moderates and at length is gaining the disapproval of even conservatives.

In my opinion all it would take is a decent campaign by an above-average candidate to unseat him. Of course that being said, that could well not happen as it hasn't before.

For Democrats again my choice may not be others first though he is universally regarded as vulnerable.

Its Jim Matheson, Democrat (UT-2)
His district is almost two-thirds republican and while he has taken care to vote the "right" way, the GOP has enough ammo to go after him. This race was neglected the last time because of juicier targets elsewhere. It's likely to be at the top of the GOP list in 2004 and with partisan differences sharpest during the Presidential election its a steep steep hill for Jim Matheson right now.

Look forward to hearing others picks.
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Ryan
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2003, 11:24:51 am »
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And while we are at it why not look for the opposite- strong incumbents. Smiley Smiley Now its pointless to look at incumbents in general because over 90% of them are nearly untouchable anyway. Lets narrow the field to freshmen who were elected with >53% of the vote.
Which first timers will turn themselves into entrenched incumbents?
Just as before One pick from each party to start with Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2003, 12:08:45 pm »
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Utah has a Democrat as one of it's representatives?Huh
Matheson is toast.

Rodney Alexander (LA-5) doesn't look very vunerable at the moment.

Mike Rodgers(AL-3) could be in serious trouble, ditto Max Burns(GA-12)

 
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2003, 12:10:25 pm »
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And while we are at it why not look for the opposite- strong incumbents. Smiley Smiley Now its pointless to look at incumbents in general because over 90% of them are nearly untouchable anyway. Lets narrow the field to freshmen who were elected with >53% of the vote.
Which first timers will turn themselves into entrenched incumbents?
Just as before One pick from each party to start with Smiley


Now for the GOP its an obvious choice. Rep. Beauprez whom everyone must be well known to everyone as the winner of the closest race in 2002 has had his district changed enough to give him a comfortable win. Otherwise (if the new map is thrown out) my vote goes to Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida. Her razor thin margin was more due to the fact that she was up against a five term incumbent than because the district itself is competitive. I expect her to have an easier ride in 2004.

For the democrats no question about it. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland got only 52% in a VERY democratic seat because he was up against Rep. Connie Morella (a personal hero of mine) Look for him to top 66% at minimum in 2004.
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Ryan
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2003, 12:16:15 pm »
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Utah has a Democrat as one of it's representatives?Huh
Matheson is toast.


LOL well he follows the profile of democrats who still do well in heavily GOP areas. He has a legendary political family name out west. In Utah Matheson is amost as big as Udall is elsewhere in the west.

Thus he was able to portray himself as an independent son-of-the-soil when he got elected and that too in a much more Urban seat than he has now - in Salt Lake City. (for those who dont know- urban areas tend democratic to varying degrees no matter where in the US- EG> In Utah they may still be majority Republican but much less than the rest of the state)

Still I concur!! He's Toast Cheesy
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Ryan
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2003, 12:27:31 pm »
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Rodney Alexander (LA-5) doesn't look very vunerable at the moment.

Mike Rodgers(AL-3) could be in serious trouble, ditto Max Burns(GA-12)

Good Picks. Not certain abt the first though. Know a bit abt it-being my home state Smiley Alexander represents a decently GOP (though less so after gerrymandering) district. Still he has one of the most conservative records for a democratic representative so he's looking to the future. Decent grassroots operation too.
My guess is the GOP's best shot to retain this district (retiring GOP Rep. Cooksey held it till 2002) was to win it in 2002. Alexander will give them a hell of a fight next year.
Its still competitive but frankly leans a bit democratic for 2004!

Rodgers is more vulnerable but he was an Alabama Senate minority leader and has a lot of grassroots strength. The district is pretty much split even between the parties and he won it against a strong contender in 2002 (Joe Turnham I think) Next year he will have the advantages of incumbency behind him and that's a big factor in the South.

Max Burns is endangered- thats for sure. Its a VERY democratic district and two years isnt enough time to consolidate. He certainly won't face a ridiculous candidate like Walker next time around Smiley Still he has influence in congress....President of the GOP freshman class and all Cheesy He has been effective for his district and He wont plan on giving up his seat easy- thats for sure!! Cheesy

Look forward to others responses as well.


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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2003, 10:56:06 pm »
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I think it is a mistake to choose a vulnerable incumbent simply because he had a close race the last time, or he is representing a district that votes for the opposite party in state wide races.  Often a weak incumbent attracts multiple challengers, who end up increasing the negatives for each other in the primary battle, or split the vote so that a more extreme challenger wins the primary, who is out of step with the philosophy of the.  The key to vulnerable incumbents is who has a strong challenger (i.e. someone who has district wide name recognition, who can raise money to buy media time, and who has a philosophy that fits the district).  After reviewing the Oct30, 2003 CookReport's list of competitive districts (19 Democrats and 17 Republican), I think the following are the most vulnerable:

Democrats = 9
Florida-02
Georgia-03
Kentucky-04
Louisiana-05
New York-01
Pennsylvania-13
Texas-11
Texas-17
Utah-02

Republicans = 4
Arizona-01
Georgia-12
Indiana-08
New Mexico-01

This list is will change as the actual challengers are defined for each district next year.  But it is important to remember, for many of the vulnerable incumbents, this will be the first election they have represented the same voters, since redistricting added new voters to their district in 2002.  So I would expect more of these will end up increasing their winning margin over the 2002 result, than will see their margin decrease.  
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2003, 03:24:06 pm »
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AL-3 is a good example of a seat that the Dems need to win to regain the House, If they can run a strong populist dem it should go Dem... but it'll be close.

GA-12 is an even better example of that.
That the Dems hold UT-2 and not GA-12 is insane.

Alexander should be safe barring a GOP landslide(unlikely) or a serious gaffe.
But LA can be weird when it comes to voting...

I said earlier that in theory the House should lean Dem while the Senate should lean GOP.
The reason for that it classic political theory.
Which I presume you lot all know Wink
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Ryan
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2003, 01:33:04 am »
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AL-3 is a good example of a seat that the Dems need to win to regain the House, If they can run a strong populist dem it should go Dem... but it'll be close.

GA-12 is an even better example of that.
That the Dems hold UT-2 and not GA-12 is insane.

Well not that insane, after all there are many such. Republicans have no business holding Jim Leach's solidly democratic Iowa seat as well as several others and should definitely have over a dozen southern seats which are over two-thirds republican but held by a dem.

There are a lot of factors which affect this includng the political independence (in reality) of voters despite their partisan preference and the strength of the incumbent on various measures.  
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Ryan
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2003, 01:34:30 am »
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I think it is a mistake to choose a vulnerable incumbent simply because he had a close race the last time, or he is representing a district that votes for the opposite party in state wide races.  Often a weak incumbent attracts multiple challengers, who end up increasing the negatives for each other in the primary battle, or split the vote so that a more extreme challenger wins the primary, who is out of step with the philosophy of the.  

Good point. Its worth keeping in mind and all too often forgotten.
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2003, 01:39:07 am »
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I said earlier that in theory the House should lean Dem while the Senate should lean GOP.
The reason for that it .
Which I presume you lot all know Wink

classic political theory??? Not where I come from its not!!! Wink
The Senate its obvious. A majority of states are majority GOP so a majority of senators should be too. - A topic I was going to go into in more detail later.

The house should in my opinion have no reason to be more dem than rep. If you wish to enlighten us please go ahead. Else we shall try hard to live; knowing that great knowledge lies just beyond our grasp :d Wink Tongue
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2003, 04:10:30 am »
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In effect it's because the lower house is meant to be radical while the upper house is meant to be conservative.
Both are meant to balance each other out.
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2003, 04:16:42 am »
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AL-3 is a good example of a seat that the Dems need to win to regain the House, If they can run a strong populist dem it should go Dem... but it'll be close.

GA-12 is an even better example of that.
That the Dems hold UT-2 and not GA-12 is insane.

Well not that insane, after all there are many such. Republicans have no business holding Jim Leach's solidly democratic Iowa seat as well as several others and should definitely have over a dozen southern seats which are over two-thirds republican but held by a dem.

There are a lot of factors which affect this includng the political independence (in reality) of voters despite their partisan preference and the strength of the incumbent on various measures.  

Like Gene Taylor in Mississippi?
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2003, 02:28:44 pm »
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AL-3 is a good example of a seat that the Dems need to win to regain the House, If they can run a strong populist dem it should go Dem... but it'll be close.

GA-12 is an even better example of that.
That the Dems hold UT-2 and not GA-12 is insane.

Well not that insane, after all there are many such. Republicans have no business holding Jim Leach's solidly democratic Iowa seat as well as several others and should definitely have over a dozen southern seats which are over two-thirds republican but held by a dem.

There are a lot of factors which affect this includng the political independence (in reality) of voters despite their partisan preference and the strength of the incumbent on various measures.  

Like Gene Taylor in Mississippi?

Gene Taylor is an excellent example as are Bud Cramer of Alabama, Ralph Hall and Charlie Stenholm of Texas etc etc
You will find several similarities among these incumbents including unflinching populism and social conservatism and an excellent ideological and cultural "fit" to their districts.

More important (to buttress my earlier point) you will find that these districts are predominantly rural in nature. Rural districts in the south, once the bastion of democratic power, now tend strongly republican at the national level. However at the local level their party identification with the GOP is not too strong and they tend to accept the right type of democrats.

Southern Suburban voters are not so open-minded; the bar for democrats is much higher there. This is why you will see that in the new Texas map several democrats (who already represented majority GOP districts) are placed in districts that seem to vote as strongly as before for the GOP. The difference is they are now much more suburban which means much more loyal to the GOP.
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2003, 02:45:37 pm »
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AL-5 would probably be Democrat without Cramer, although not with 73.3%...(mid 50's looks about right).

However the Dems would not win MS-4 without Taylor...
What is usually the most GOP part of Mississippi gave a Democrat 3 quarters of the vote in 2002...

Your point about a rural/suburban divide is excellent.
It may be partially explained by economic self-interest as poor rural areas tend to benifit from Dem economic policies while suburbia tends to benifit from GOP economic policies.
In parts of the South the rural/suburban divide is more marked than the rural/urban divide.

America can be a strange country Wink
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2003, 02:46:32 pm »
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In effect it's because the lower house is meant to be radical while the upper house is meant to be conservative.
Both are meant to balance each other out.

Well yes I see what you are getting at but you are taking a someone different meaning of "radical" and "conservative" than the way these terms are used in the contemporary US.

The House was meant to be reflective of short-term popular will- the means to press for urgent and emotive actions that the people demanded.
The Senate was meant to be the voice of reason and sanity where cooler heads prevailed and experts not concerned with immediate re-election worries could consider the long-term good of the United States.

There is no specific reason to associate the first tendency (expression of short-term popular will with liberals/ democrats) and the second (sane and considered action) with conservatives/ republicans.

If you consider the traditional meaning of RADICAL (connected to extremism-pushing for vast changes) then the house is certainly more radical. But that applies to BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS. While house democrats are more likely to push (RADICAL LIBERAL Concepts) like the single payer healthcare scheme, house republicans are likely to push (RADICAL CONSERVATIVE concepts) like privatization of social security.

Senators of both parties less LIKELY on average to push for either schemes.

So yes the function of both houses as conceived by the founding fathers is being fulfilled but I must respectfully disagree that the nature of one house favors the election of liberals/dems and the other favors elections of conservatives/reps.
One may favor radicals/extremists (House) while the other may favor moderates (Senate) but either of  these can be found in both the two parties and ideologies.
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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2003, 03:05:43 pm »
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That's more or less the theory.

It's also worth noting that in most other countries with two chambers, the lower tends to be the more leftish of the two.

And that this was the case in the US until the 2000 elections.
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« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2003, 07:29:00 pm »
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The House is currently leaning GOP.  
Even though Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000 in 2000, he won more Congressional districts (228) than Gore (207).  Since Reapportionment in 2002 moved seats from Gore states to Bush states, I expect the Republican districts have actually increased over 2000 (which partly explains why Republicans picked up 6 seats in 2002).

The Senate leans even more to the GOP than the House, since Bush won 30 states in 2000, without the advantage of incumency and assuming equally good candidates, the Senate would probably be closer to 60 Republicans.
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« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2003, 06:05:29 am »
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How many districts Bush won in 2000 is immaterial to how the house leans(Gore had some serious problems in normally safe Democrat districts).
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« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2003, 12:30:19 pm »
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How many districts Bush won in 2000 is immaterial to how the house leans(Gore had some serious problems in normally safe Democrat districts).

Well I strongly disagree.
The 2000 election provided an excellent opportunity to determine the underlying preference of voters in each Congressional District.  The Presidential race was not swayed by any large event: no war, economy was OK, no big scandal (I’m assuming Gore was not overly smeared by the Clinton scandal).  Both candidates were mediocre campaigners and neither communicated a vision that inspired voters.  
Of course in many districts the Presidential candidate had fewer votes than the Representative of that district, but that, at least in part, reflects the political reality that most voters defer to incumbents (in 2000 and 2002 >98% of incumbents were re-elected).  Most voters feel their Representative does a good job (the incumbent advantage) even when voters feel Congress does not.
In 2000 Democratic Representatives won in 25 districts Bush won, but Republicans won in only 12 districts Gore won, again suggesting that the tendency for the House is to be Republican.
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« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2003, 01:36:05 pm »
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Are you seriously suggesting that PA-12 is naturally GOP?HuhHuh
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« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2003, 02:49:53 pm »
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Are you seriously suggesting that PA-12 is naturally GOP?HuhHuh

No, the current PA-12 district (Democrat won in 2002 with 74%) was won by Gore 55% vs Bush 44%, so I would call it a natural Democratic district.  
see:
http://www.ncec.org/redistricting/district.phtml?district=pa108
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