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Hey folks, after probably ten hours of thinking and writing, here is my comprehensive, semi-final, 2012 US House elections prediction guide. My race ratings say that Republicans will gain four seats, although I feel as if the final result will actually be R+1. It is worth noting, however, that I won my high school Republican club's 2010 race rating contest by correctly guessing, on the dime, an R+63 result.
Alabama: No competitive races
Alaska: No competitive races
Arizona: Three competitive races
Arizona's 1st Congressional district (Flagstaff, Casa Grande, Oro Valley, large Hopi and Navajo reservations)
Rating: Tilt R for Jonathan Paton
Analysis: For a while, former Rep Ann Kirkpatrick looked like a shoo-in for election to the newly drawn, more Democratic 1st district. This version of the 1st district isn't the conservative district Ricky Renzi used to represent and that Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick won in 2006; it now contains both a large Hopi Nation reservation along with the Apache Nation reservation it already contained, giving the district with the largest Native American population an even larger Native American population. The district seemed so troubling for conservative Republicans that Rep Paul Gosar even ran in significantly more conservative 4th district. Kirkpatrick thought she'd coast into the seat, and has been avoiding the media and making limited, scripted campaign appearances. Meanwhile, former Tucson-area State Senator and Iraq War Jonathan Paton decided to enter the race. Paton, who would have defeated Gabby Giffords by all accounts, was upset in the 2010 primary for AZ-08 by Tea Party candidate Jesse Kelly. Initial concerns about his fundraising and status as a Tucson-area candidate have subsided as he's run a tremendous campaign and has fundraised well. Paton was also endorsed by the Arizona Republic, which excoriated Kirkpatrick for her lack of candor and her refusal to delve into the specifics of policy. What may really do Kirkpatrick in is Paton's endorsement from the usually reflexively Democratic Navajo Nation Council, which endorsed Paton today.
Arizona's 2nd Congressional district (Tucson, Catalina, Cochise County)
Rating: Likely D for Ron Barber
Analysis: This Tucson-based seat is trending Democratic at a rapid rate as Tucson becomes more and more Hispanic. Veteran Martha McSally, the first woman to fly in a combat mission, is an intriguing although unrefined candidate, but this seat will be Ron Barber's for as long as he wants it.
Arizona's 9th Congressional district (Tempe, Ahwatukee [a suburban neighborhood of Phoenix], Mesa, Chandler,
Rating: Tilts D for Kyrsten Sinema
Analysis: This largely working class seat, with its growing minority population, also contains ASU and all of its liberal college voters. Regardless, the seat's Mormon- heavy eastern flank, along with southern Scottsdale, keeps it competitive. Former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker may well win this seat, especially against Democratic former State Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema, whose history as an outspoken progressive from her years in the State Senate and her time as Arizona Green Party spokeswoman, provides Parker with plenty of ammunition. However, Jan Brewer lost this seat in 2010 and national Republicans don't seem particularly excited about it. Parker also has baggage from having a federal contract stripped from him for alleged mismanagement. Regardless, the race should be close and it wouldn't surprise me if Parker won, but I'm giving the Arizona Republic-endorsed Sinema the slightest of edges, especially considering Brewer lost the seat in her bid for a first term after her appointment.
Arkansas: No competitive races (But I'd like to say something about AR-04 below)
Arkansas' 4th Congressional district (Hot Springs, Dardanelle, Pine Bluff)
Rating: Safe R for Tom Cotton
Analysis: While initially an underdog in the GOP primary, 36-year-old Harvard
College/Law School alum, active duty combat veteran, and McKinsey & Company
management consulting alumnus Tom Cotton thumped all around gadfly Beth Anne
Rankin after running a tremendous campaign. I see Presidential potential in Cotton,
by far the most impressive and promising GOP House recruit of the cycle.
California: 12 competitive races
California's 3rd Congressional district (Davis, Vacaville, Yuba City, Fairfield)
Rating: Likely D for John Garamendi
Analysis: Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann has been a decent recruit in this seat,
but former Lt. Gov John Garamendi, who is rather competent on agricultural issues,
is going to thump her thanks to high levels of Presidential year turnout both in the
seat's minority-heavy Bay Area towns and the college town of Davis. The GOP would
have had have had a better chance in a midterm, but this seat that George W. Bush
won in 2004 will be voting for Garamendi this year.
California's 7th Congressional district (Elk Grove, Gold River, Granite Bay, Folsom, Citrus Heights)
Rating: Tilts D for Ami Bera
Analysis: Former California Attorney General Dan Lungren won his ticket back to
Congress after a two decade absence in 2006. Lungren, one of the House's brightest
members, is a wonk at heart, but not a politician. While a good man, he seemingly
doesn't know how to run a good campaign. Meanwhile, the Sacramento suburbs
have been trending leftwards as their minority population booms. Word on the
street back in 2010 was that Lungren was supposed to face a tough race from Dr.
Ami Bera, but his seat's Gold Country territory really came in strongly for Lungren.
However, the new 7th district condensed to suburban Sacramento, becoming more
Democratic. While Lungren's constituent services have been excellent, Bera's been running a better campaign and minority heavy places like Elk Grove are becoming really toxic to the GOP. To make matters worse, the Sacramento Bee switched its endorsement from 2010 to Dr. Bera. While Congressman Lungren is one of the most intelligent men I've ever spoken with in person, I think Ami Bera will be elected to Congress, narrowly, in 2012.
California's 8th Congressional district (Victorville, Apple Valley, Barstow, Bishop)
Rating: Safe R (Leans towards Paul Cook in this R/R matchup)
Analysis: This seat stretches from the outer territory of the awesomely named
Inland Empire seat all the way up through the Sierras to northern California. Except
for some liberal Hispanic pockets, it's a thoroughly conservative district. Tea Party
favorite Gregg Imus and Assemblyman Paul Cook, both Republicans, advanced in the
top two primary with ~15% of the vote each. Cook is better funded, better known,
and should win the election, although Imus should not be counted out.
California's 9th Congressional district (Stockton, Lodi, Antioch)
Rating: Leans D for Jerry McNerney
Analysis: Had McNerney not have sent his cronies to the California Redistricting
Commission's meeting on northern California, Ricky Gill would have a significantly
better chance. What exactly did McNerney's henchmen, disguised as regular citizens,
advocate for? Not keeping Stockton County together and, instead, running this seat
into Antioch, an ultra-Democratic Bay Area city. Gill, a 25-year-old lawyer with a
bright future, will keep this close, but Antioch will prevent his getting to Congress.
California's 10th Congressional district (Modesto, Turlock, Tracy)
Rating: Tilts R for Jeff Denham
Analysis: This seat is trending Hispanic at a rapid rate, and although higher Hispanic
population isn't always a sure sign of more Democratic success in the Central Valley,
Denham's new Modesto-based seat is undoubtedly becoming tougher for the GOP.
While Denham did hold down a fairly tough legislative seat, he hasn't run a great
campaign this year for his first Congressional reelection campaign in a largely new
district. Unfortunately, Astronaut John Hernandez, his opponent, has the right
surname for the seat and has run a fairly strong campaign. Denham should be
favored, although his losing should not surprise anyone if it happens.
California's 15th Congressional district (Hayward, Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin)
Rating: Safe D, leans towards Eric Swalwell
Analysis: While he himself has some strange ideas, like a completely virtual
Congress, Dublin City Councilman and former prosecutor Eric Swalwell is set to
knock off one of the House's wackiest members in Pete Stark. Stark has served since
the early 70s, but his penchant for making colorful, at best, and downright offensive,
at worst, comments has damaged his popularity. While wealthy businessman Ro
Khanna and State Senator Ellen Corbett waited for Start to retire in 2014, Swalwell
took the plunge and the race has definitively broken in his direction, especially after
Stark started making baseless character attacks on Swalwell. It's safe to say that I
can't wait to hear Stark's concession speech.
California's 16th Congressional district (Fresno, Atwater, Merced)
Rating: Likely D for Jim Costa
Analysis: This heavily Hispanic seat was won by George W. Bush and performed
fairly well in by Carly Fironia and Meg Whitman, but it has trended Democratic in
recent years. Costa almost lost a more Democratic seat in 2010, but a presidential
year is not when he'll be potentially highly vulnerable.
California's 21st Congressional district (Bakersfield, Hanford)
Rating: Leans R for David Valadao
Analysis: Popular Assemblyman David Valadao was fortunate in that no credible
Democrat ran for this heavily Hispanic seat that broke hard for President Obama
after being one of President Bush's better seats in California. He's coasted since the
primary, but recent polling has showed that the race has tightened considerably.
Valadao will have to run a real campaign in 2014, but he's still favored in 2012.
The only way his opponent will win is solely based off of his Hispanic surname, but
Valadao, widely regarded as a highly intelligent and capable legislator, should head
to Washington with ease.
California's 24th Congressional district (Santa Barbara, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo)
Rating: Leans D for Lois Capps
Analysis: Lois Capps, always rated as one of the House's nicest members, was used
to a heavily gerrymandered and heavily Democratic seat over the past decade, with
her district sucking up coastal Democrats between San Luis Obispo and Oxnard. Her
new seat's far more competitive, and former appointed Lt. Gov Abel Maldonado is
moderate and supposedly a good retail politician. However, all of those college kids
at Cal State Poly and UCSB should carry her over the finish line in this seat. This is
another seat that is significantly better for the GOP in midterm years.
California's 26th Congressional district (Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura)
Rating: Tilts D for Julia Brownley
Analysis: Tony Strickland has been popular while serving Ventura County in the
State Senate. However, the fact that this seat doesn't contain Simi Valley, Ventura
County's most conservative slice, may doom Strickland in the end. The 26 th is
becoming more Hispanic and more liberal, as wealthy liberals from Los Angeles look
for more open space. Julia Brownley of Malibu is one of those liberals, except she's
looking for a US House seat. I fear the trend lines in the district will be too much for
Strickland to handle. Look for him to unfortunately narrowly lose to Brownley.
California's 30th Congressional district (Western and Southern San Fernando Valley including Encinio, Winnetka,
Conoga Park, Grenada Hills, and Studio City)
Rating: Safe D, leans Sherman
Analysis: While Howard Berman has significantly more senioritity and many
more endorsements from California Democrats and Republicans alike, Bill Clinton
endorsed Brad Sherman has a substantial territory advantage here, and his primary
and polling performances show that he's on the path to victory. This race has turned
extremely nasty as of late, with the candidates almost breaking out in a fist fight
during a recent debate.
California's 31st Congressional district (Inner Inland Empire including Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino,
Rating: Safe R, leans Miller
Analysis: Even though he had a territory advantage over Ed Royce in California's
39th Congressional district, Orange County Congressman and polarizing figure Gary
Miller decided to jump ship to the 31st district after being promised significant
campaign funding. Miller, who represents none of the district, faces fellow
Republican and State Senator Bob Dutton in the general election in this Democratic
leaning, Hispanic trending district. How did that happen? In a perfect storm, Miller
and Dutton were the top two vote getters in the primary, allowing them both to
advance over nominal general election favorite and Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar.
This race is extremely hard to read, and if he can win enough local Democratic
support, the underfunded Dutton can win this race. However, Miller has run a more
organized and better-funded campaign, meaning that, at least on paper, he should
California's 36th Congressional district (Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Hemet)
Rating: Tilts R for Mary Bono Mack
Mary Bono Mack has coasted year in and year out in her Riverside County based fortress ever since she won a 1998 special election to replace her late husband, ex-Rep Sonny Bono. Mack's seat is becoming more Hispanic, but Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman both reached the mid-50% range in the 36th in 2010. That being said, Bono Mack was caught pulling a Bob Casey, and seemed to be taking her race against a very impressive Raul Ruiz for granted. Dr. Ruiz, with thee graduate degrees from Harvard, is an impressive campaigner and speaker, and is well known in the Coachella Valley. While the district is trending Democratic, it's a very polarized seat where Republicans have a high floor and a low ceiling. Bono Mack should win, especially after unearthing a video of Ruiz praising radical Indian leader Leonard Peltier while at Harvard. However, Bono Mack needs to step it up in a seat that's going to become more difficult for her to hold onto later on in the decade, if she survives 2012.
California's 41st Congressional district (Riverside, Moreno Valley, Mira Loma, Perris)
Rating: Tilts D for Mark Takano
Democrats have always struggled immensely to win down ballot races in Riverside County. While George W. Bush won this seat in 2004, Barack Obama received 61% of the two-party vote in the 41st district in 2008, a massive swing. If Romney can make the Presidential race in this district close, popular Riverside County Commissioner John Tavaglione may well upset Mark Takano, a gay teacher from Riverside who lost to Ken Calvert in 1992 and 1994. The seat's social conservatism could cause some socially conservative Hispanic Democrats to back the popular and well known Tavaglione over the socially liberal Mark Takano, but time will tell if that will be enough.
California's 47th Congressional district (Long Beach, Cypress, Garden Grove, Westminster)
Rating: Leans D for Alan Lowenthal
Long Beach was once the fertile stomping grounds of now Sacramento-area Congressman Dan Lungren. However, demographic trends in the area have made it anything but Republican. This seat is about two parts liberal Long Beach, one part conservative Orange County, bringing it to a moderately Democratic leaning seat. While the socially moderate and fiscally conservative Gary DeLong is an excellent candidate and a wonderful fit for the district, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina both lost this seat and State Senator Alan Lowenthal should be nominally favored.
California's 52nd Congressional district (San Diego, including the neighborhoods of La Jolla, Downtown San Diego, and Clairemont, Poway, Coronado)
Rating: Tilts R for Brian Bilbray
Former Imperial Beach Mayor Brian Bilbray has had a fascinating political career. He represented the (then not so, yet still) Democratic leaning district containing most of San Diego from 1995-2001, when he lost to current Rep Susan Davis. Bilbray went on to lobby on behalf of San Diego companies in Washington but his heart was back in the halls of Congress. Bilbray got his chance to head back to the House Chamber when he won Duke Cunningham's 50th district in a 2005 special election, and then hung on in 2006 and 2008 before thumping his 2010 opponent with ease. Redistricting left Bilbray, who has now represented most of the non-minority heavy parts of southern San Diego County, with a largely new seat that only contains 40% of the new CA-52. Former San Diego Councilman Brian Peters, who positions himself as a centrist, is a strong opponent who ran a great campaign to knock off former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana in the primary. While Bilbray's campaign originally floundered, leading some to suspect his heart wasn't in the race, he has been making up ground in polling and in momentum lately, especially after mercilessly pounding Peters for his role in some pension and other fiscal scandals during his time on the San Diego, the same scandals that derailed Peters' bid for San Diego City Attorney in 2010. Additionally, Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio, the openly-gay, socially liberal and fiscally conservative San Diego Mayoral nominee, has been surging recently and has supposedly pulled into a tie with Congressman Bob Filner in the city's partisan mayoral election. What may propel Bilbray over 50% is a recent ad he launched, narrated by his daughter Briana, who has terminal cancer. Briana Bilbray lauded her father for his numerous awards from cancer foundations and for the aggressive cancer research legislation he has funded. Look for this race to be one of the year's closest, but I think Brian Bilbray has turned his campaign around just enough to win.
Colorado (4-3 R-D) Two competitive races
Colorado's 3rd Congressional district (Pueblo, Durango, Grand Junction)
Rating: Likely R for Scott Tipton
Analysis: Scott Tipton has been one of the more conservative members of the 112th Congress in this politically marginal district, characterized by latte liberal ski towns and rural conservatives. He also got off to a rocky start in office, with his being forced to apologize for his daughter's floating of his name while looking for governmental contracts from offices of other members of Congress. His opponent, State Rep. Sal Pace, was heralded as a top tier recruit for Colorado Democrats. However, Tipton's run a strong campaign and Mitt Romney's going to perform in the mid-50% range in this Western Slope based district. Expect Tipton to win.
Colorado's 6th Congressional district (Aurora, Centennial, Brighton)
Rating: Leans R for Mike Coffman
Analysis: Former Secretary of State and current Congressman Mike Coffman was on track to become a potential Senatorial or gubernatorial nominee in election down the road. However, Democrats took away the rural, conservative counties from his 6th district and added Aurora and other minority-heavy towns, condensing the 6th district to suburban Denver. Coffman was on track to win until making "birther" statements about President Obama's birthplace and his being "un-American at heart," and then bungling the apology. Regardless, Coffman's opponent, carpetbagger and former Denver State Rep Joe Mikloski, is a fairly weak recruit. The 6th district should swing hard towards Romney this November, and Coffman's superior fundraising and campaigning should pull him across the finish line.
Colorado's 7th Congressional district (Evergreen, Wheat Ridge, Thornton)
Rating: Leans D for Ed Perlmutter
Analysis: While Joe Coors is a well-funded and personable opponent, I just don't see him winning in this western/northern suburban district that even John Kerry won.
Connecticut: One competitive race
Connecticut's 5th Congressional district (Litchfield Hills, Farmington Valley, Waterbury, Meriden, New Britain)
Rating: Tilts R for Andrew Roraback
Analysis: See here: http://www.redracinghorses.com... Since the publishing of my general election preview in August, the race for CT-05 has developed fascinatingly. Andrew Roraback's been all over the district campaigning at every event, he's fundraised well, and his campaign has been well-organized. Surprisingly, Esty has moved to the left since the primary and hasn't been as visible as Roraback has been on the ground. As one CT GOP operative told me, "If Andrew Roraback loses, he lost the race at the mapping table." The race will come down to four factors.
How much will Andrew Roraback overperform Mitt Romney in the Litchfield Hills? He needs a strong performance in his State Senate district.
Will Roraback's brand of social moderation and fiscal conservatism, which is a great fit for the Farmington Valley, allow him to significantly over-perform Mitt Romney in the Farmington Valley?
Can Roraback prevent Liz Esty from over-performing in Cheshire, her hometown which is part of the State House seat she lost after one term in 2010.
Will Roraback, whose personality is admittedly a bad fit for appealing to blue collar voters in the district's cities, be able to match Mitt Romney's performance in Meriden, New Britain, and Waterbury?
If the answer to even a few of these questions is a resounding yes, Andrew Roraback will head to Congress. If not, well...
Delaware: No competitive races
Florida: 7 competitive races
Florida's 2nd Congressional district (Tallahassee, Panama City, Perry)
Rating: Tilts R for Steve Southerland
Analysis: Freshman Rep, and all-around great guy, Steve Southerland thought he'd caught a huge break when liberal, black State Senator Al Lawson won the 2nd district Democratic Primary against "conservative" Democratic State Rep Alan Bembry. This southern district, outside of Tallahassee with its large black and government worker populations, is as southern as can be, albeit ancestrally Democratic. That all being said, Southerland has supposedly had a hard time getting to 50% in polling this year, including against Lawson. While the undecideds in this close race are conservative, many are conservative Democrats. I expect Southerland to win, but only by about four points. Rumor has it that there will be some Romney/Bembry Democrats.
Florida's 9th Congressional district (Kissimmee, Monterey, Vista Park, St. Cloud)
Rating: Likely D for Alan Grayson
Analysis: Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones would have been a formidable foe for a true wingnut in Grayson, but two-time political loser, attorney, and Tea Party favorite Todd Long certainly is not.
Florida's 10th Congressional district (Orlando, Eustis, Clermont)
Rating: Leans R for Daniel Webster
Analysis: Congressman and former State House Speaker Dan Webster is a popular central Florida political institution. Often described as a gentleman and a statesman, he was the perfect opponent for Alan Grayson in 2010. Val Demings, the former Chief Police Officer of the Orlando Police, is his 2012 opponent. A strong recruit, Demings couldn't be any more different than Grayson, other than in her policy advocacy. The race for the 10th district has been one of the more civil House races in the country, although national money has poured in, including a massive, $1.7 million anti-Webster buy by Michael Bloomberg's SuperPAC in the final week of the campaign. Democrats love to say that this seat will go Democratic sooner rather than later, but its conservative nature is buoyed by its Central Floridian counties that are politically stagnant, even as its Orlando precincts gain more minorities. Expect Romney to win this seat by around 6 points and for Webster to win by mid-single digits.
Florida's 16th Congressional district (Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice)
Rating: Likely R for Vern Buchanan
Analysis: While under federal investigation, Vern Buchanan looked incredibly vulnerable to State Rep Keith Fitzgerald, who was positioning himself as a moderate. However, after the main investigation was dropped, Buchanan looks ready to coast in this retiree-filled, urban/suburban seat.
Florida's 18th Congressional district (Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce)
Rating: Tilts R for Allen West
Analysis: This seat is mostly new to Allen West, who had to move to FL-18 because FL-22 as drawn was too Democratic for him to win. His opponent, ne'er-do-well Patrick Murphy, also followed him to FL-22. West has run one of the most organized and all-around strong campaigns in the country this year, while Murphy has seemingly been stuck in the mud. West has also run devastatingly effective ads reminding voters that he was out fighting for his country while Murphy was getting involved in drunken bar fights and assaulting police officers, and got out of his charges likely thanks to his father's donations to the prosecutor in the case. West looks principled and disciplined and, ironically, has some level of legitimate crossover from moderate, law and order type Democrats who like how bluntly he speaks. Expect Allen West to return to Congress in 2013.
Florida's 22nd Congressional district (Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Plantation)
Rating: Leans D for Lois Frankel
Analysis: This heavily Jewish seat on the Gold Coast of Florida was Allen West's seat until redistricting. It was too Democratic for West, so he moved north to the 18th district. However, former State Senator Adam Hasner, who briefly ran for Senate, is a well-liked and all-around excellent candidate for the GOP, especially considering how unpopular his opponent is. Lois Frankel, former West Palm Beach Mayor, is abrasive and a poor campaigner. However, President Obama should get to 52-53% here. If Romney somehow does overperform with elderly Jewish voters who are angry at President Obama's Israel policy, then perhaps enough will also vote Hasner for him to win. This could be an upset special, folks.
Florida's 26th Congressional district (Kendall, Homestead, The Hammocks, Florida Keys)
Rating: Tilts D for Joe Garcia
Analysis: I guess the third time's the charm for Joe Garcia. Garcia, who lost two races for Congress in 2008 and 2010, is lucky enough to face scandal-embroiled David Rivera, who is quite possibly the sleaziest-seeming Republican member of Congress since Ricky Renzi. The supposed latest in Rivera's string of troubling actions was funding a fake primary opponent for Garcia, using wads of cash, illegally. If Garcia wins in 2012, expect him to get stomped in 2014 by someone like State Senator Anitere Flores. The Cuban Republican machine is so strong that Rivera, who's been helped out through robocalls recorded by his friend, Marco Rubio, could win, but it'd probably be for the betterment of the party if he lost and faded away from the public stage.
Georgia: One competitive race
*Georgia's 12th Congressional district (South Central Georgia)
Rating: Tilts D for John Barrow
Analysis: When Georgia Republicans completed their redistricting this cycle, John Barrow was left for dead. His district shifted from 54% Obama to 44% Obama. Instead, Barrow looks likely to hold on. Barrow's campaign has emphasized his independence from both parties, particularly running ads talking about his opposition to the Ryan Medicare Plan and gun control. He has also emphasized various local issues, playing up Georgia manufacturing, small businesses in towns and bringing jobs to urban areas. The goal for a Democrat here is to walk the fine line between keeping black voters engaged and getting enough conservative Democrats to win. Polling shows Barrow with a small lead. However, don't count out Lee Anderson. If enough Republicans come home on election day, he can absolutely win.
For more information, http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com...
Hawaii: No competitive races.
Idaho: No competitive races.
Illinois: Six competitive races.
Illinois' 8th Congressional district (Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Roselle, Lombard)
Rating: Likely D for Tammy Duckworth
Analysis: Simply put, Joe Walsh is an amazing retail politician. He comes off as a good listener, he's affable, he's articulate, he's funny, and he's willing to go off of his talking points. Joe's had over 200 town halls and constituent coffees, making him extremely well known and personally liked by many of his constituents. However, his ex-wife's accusations of his being a deadbeat dad really hurt his credibility, and that in conjunction with his strong association with the Tea Party makes the race for IL-08 just a bridge too far, especially against a disabled veteran like Tammy Duckworth. It's scary that a Democratic district can be anchored in northern DuPage County these days. Yowza!
Illinois' 10th Congressional district (Lake Forest, Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Glencoe, Highland Park, Round Lake Beach)
Rating: Tilts R for Robert Dold
Analysis (*disclaimer* I've worked on this race): Democrats left freshman Republican Bob Dold for dead when his seat, already the toughest district held by Republicans in terms of PVI, was ramped up from 61% Obama to 63% Obama. Democrats carved out Palatine, Arlington Heights, the wealthy, Christian, and Republican parts of New Trier Township (like Winnetka, Northfield, and Kenilworth), and parts of Northbrook and Glenview. All of these areas were crucial for Dold's narrow 2010 victory in which he surprised the political world by beating now-three time loser Dan Seals. What Democrats did not realize is that Dold was an unknown entity in 2010; he was "generic Republican" facing a defined Democrat, and that's how the district as a whole saw him. Dold has done a wonderful job at fundraising, campaigning, and defining himself as one of the House's last true moderates. Meanwhile, his ne'er-do-well opponent, "businessman" Brad Schneider (whose "consulting business" has had no office, employees, and has paid no taxes in over three years), is throwing mud at Dold, calling him a "tea party extremist." Dold's campaign is better organized, has a clearer narrative, and is extremely well funded. You can take Kenilworth and Winnetka's votes out of the 10th district, but you sure as heck can't take its donations out, especially when one of our favorite sons is the incumbent. Schneider could win, thanks to Obama's likely 55-57% performance here, but Dold has campaigned hard enough to garner enough crossover to pull out a ~2-4 point victory. Expect Bob Dold to be back in Washington in 2013. Thanks for creating an extremely strong Senate candidate, Mike Madigan!
Illinois' 11th Congressional district (Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, Plainfield)
Rating: Tilts D for Judy Biggert
Analysis: This district is extremely polarized, with many of its suburban communities being heavily ancestrally Republican and still fairly conservative, and its cities being heavily minority and liberal. Mark Kirk and Bill Brady narrowly won this seat in 2010, but the Presidential year turnout will likely doom Republican incumbent Judy Biggert. Biggert has always been great at garnering white suburban crossover votes, but minorities in Joliet and Aurora are a tougher nut to crack. Bill Foster, while uninspiring, is an inoffensive and moderate candidate who had a reputation for working hard with his nose down in his nearly-two terms in DC before losing to Randy Hultgren in 2010. Judy could still win, especially because extremely Republican southern DuPage County is liable to swing heavily against President Obama in 2012, but I expect Bill Foster to be back in Congress in 2013. Honestly, he's one of the more tolerable Illinois Democrats.
Illinois' 12th Congressional district (East St. Louis, Belleville, Carbondale)
Rating: Tilts R for Jason Plummer
Analysis: This race is possibly the hardest in Illinois to call. Polling has been all over the place in the race for this heavily blue collar, working class district that was vacated by Jerry Costello. Democrats perform well downballot here, but Mark Kirk and Bill Brady won this seat in 2010, and I expect Mitt Romney to be very competitive here in 2012. The race may come down to the lateness of former Illinois National Guard General Bill Enyart's entry. The original Democratic nominee, Brad Harriman, had to quit the race due to medical issues. This left 2010 GOP Lt. Gov nominee Jason Plummer, who's extremely affable but a bit of a lightweight when it comes to policy knowledge, as the better known candidate, and gave him a few months to seek Democratic crossover. Anything ranging from a modest Enyart victory to a narrow Plummer win would not surprise me, although I think Plummer narrowly pulls this one out down in Little Egypt.
Illinois' 13th Congressional district (Champaign, Urbana, Springfield, Bloomington, Carlinville)
Rating: Tilts R for Rodney Davis
Analysis: Congressman Tim Johnson really screwed the GOP over when he retired after winning his primary in the 13th district. To make matters worse, instead of choosing an elected official to run in his place, the local GOP county chairmen picked Rodney Davis, a seasoned and slick political operative who ran the IL GOP victory offices in 2010. Davis gets to face David Gill, a three-time loser to Tim Johnson. Gill, a physician, is a proponent of a single payer healthcare system, along with many other ultra-liberal propositions. Should be an easy match, right? Wrong. Gill's been running a significantly more organized race than Davis has, and Gill gets to count on a large student vote from both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from Illinois State University. I expect Mitt Romney to win this district, albeit narrowly, and for Davis to narrowly carve out a victory. All I can say is that I hope someone who deserves the 13th district steps up to be our nominee for this seat in 2014.
Illinois' 17th Congressional district (Moline, Rock Island, Rockford, Peoria, Galesburg)
Rating: Tilts R for Bobby Schilling
Analysis: Simply put, both the Republican and Democratic campaigns here haven't been well organized or well funded. However, President Obama should tank in the 17th, and incumbent Bobby Schilling has the right profile to win reelection. Schilling, the owner of a popular Quad Cities pizzeria and a former union official, is an excellent fit for the hard working, self-reliant, blue collar nature of the 17th district. His opponent, former Moline Councilwoman Cheri Bustos, was hand picked by her godfather, Dick Durbin. Bustos' campaign has been lackluster. It's possible that she's dragged over the finish line by President Obama, but the NRA backed Schilling's had some important endorsements break his way lately, and has been up narrowly in most polling. While the heavily minority sections of Rockford and Peoria added to his district could sink him, Mark Kirk and Bill Brady were able to win in 2010 and Schilling is a far better fit for the district than either of those two. The only question is how much rougher the Presidential year electorate is in this seat than it is in a midterm.
Indiana's 2nd Congressional district (South Bend, Elkhart, Wabash, Peru)
Rating: Likely R for Jackie Walorski
Analysis: Taking Michigan City, and all of its minority Democratic voters, out of IN-02 was enough to spur incumbent Joe Donnelly to run for the US Senate. Former South Bend area State Rep Jackie Walorski, who nearly defeated Donnelly in 2010, should cruise to Washington, riding the tide of a double digit Romney victory in the 2nd district.
Indiana's 8th Congressional district (Terre Haute, Evansville, Vincennes)
Rating: Likely R for Larry Bucshon
Analysis: Indiana's 8th Congressional district has long been known as the "Bloody 8th" for its propensity to swing violently and kick out incumbents. Cardiologist and freshman US Rep Larry Bucshon is inoffensive, hard working, and fits the district's conservative personality well. However, former State Rep Dave Crooks is a strong challenger. Regardless, look for the 8th to swing heavily back towards the GOP up ballot, helping propel Bucshon to a well deserved second term.
Iowa: Three competitive races
Iowa's 2nd Congressional district (Iowa City, Davenport)
Rating: Leans D for Dave Loebsack
Analysis: Mitt Romney is supposedly doing well in Southeastern Iowa, which bolsters Republican businessman John Archer, a strong candidate in this Democratic leaning district. Incumbent Dave Loebsack, a former political science professor at Cornell College, isn't a particularly strong incumbent, but he probably wins a second term in this seat, largely thanks to the University of Iowa's student vote.
Iowa's 3rd Congressional district (Des Moines, southwest Iowa)
Rating: Leans R for Tom Latham
Analysis: Congressman Tom Latham is one of Speaker John Boehner's best friends. The two dine together multiple nights a week, and Boehner has helped fund Latham's campaign against incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell of Des Moines. The 3rd district slightly leans Republican, and is largely new to both Boswell and Latham. Latham's been better funded, better organized, and registration numbers look good for the GOP in this seat. Latham's also a more compelling candidate. Boswell probably would have lost in 2010 if it hadn't have been for Brad Zaun, the GOP's flawed candidate. Regardless, look for Latham to be back in 2013, especially with Mitt Romney winning the 3rd district.
Iowa's 4th Congressional district (Sioux City, Northwest Iowa)
Rating: Likely R for Steve King
Analysis: Steve King's seat was unpacked a bit in redistricting, but expect him to handily defeat Christie Vilsack, the Iowa's former First Lady in a seat that will give Mitt Romney upwards of 56% of the vote.
Kansas: No competitive races
Kentucky: One competitive race (but look out for soon-to-be freshman Congressman Thomas Massie, an unbelievably intelligent MIT educated businessman with plenty of fresh ideas and the intelligence to create some really great public policy. Thanks for reminding me to give him a shout out, DPMapper).
Kentucky's 6th Congressional district (Lexington, Frankford, Flemingsburg, Georgetown)
Rating: Tilts D for Ben Chandler
Analysis: The new Kentucky Congressional map should be named the "Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act." Although 6th district Congressman beat his 2012 challenger Barr by 600 votes in 2010, Chandler's district shed much of its most conservative territory, and instead picked up a few Appalachian, ancestrally Democratic counties from the 4th district. That being said, Ben Chandler was cruising to reelection until Andy Barr baited him into a fight with the coal industry that consumed his entire month of September, bringing this race to a tie. The Chandler name is golden in Kentucky, and although I think that Andy Barr would have defeated Ben Chandler in a rematch in the old 6th district, I expect those Appalachian counties to pull Chandler over the line in what may be the closest Congressional race this year. Honestly speaking, I initially gave this race to Barr and only gave it to Chandler when my nationwide prediction seemed too rosy for Republicans, so a Barr win wouldn't shock me at all.
Louisiana: No competitive races
Maine: No competitive races
Maryland: One competitive race
Maryland's 6th Congressional district (Frostburg, Hagerstown, Frederick, Germantown, Potomac, Gaithersburg)
Rating: Likely D for John Delaney
Analysis: The 6th district was nice and safe for incumbent Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, back when it stretched from the Panhandle to northern Baltimore County. Governor Martin O'Malley's henchmen excised all Republican leaning precincts outside of the panhandle, areas west of Hagerstown, and western Frederick County and ran the seat down into heavily minority sections of Montgomery County. Expect wealthy Democratic businessman John Delaney to beat Bartlett by an upper-single digit margin. The 87-year-old Bartlett was probably not our strongest candidate, and hopefully former Frederick State Senator Alex Mooney would be interested in running for the 6th in 2014, though winning it would be a long shot.
Massachusetts: One competitive race
Massachusetts' 6th Congressional district (Salem, Lynn, Tewksbury, Gloucester, Boxford, Lynnfield, Wakefield, North Andover, Tewksbury, Billerica)
Rating: Leans R for Richard Tisei
Analysis: The 6th district is based on the North Shore and in the eastern flank of the Merrimack Valley. While Democratic leaning, native son Charlie Baker won the seat by 9 points in his 2010 gubernatorial loss, and Scott Brown performed strongly in his 2010 special election bid, reaching 56% in the seat. Even though the seat is only moderately Democratic, 8-term Democratic incumbent John Tierney was set to be a Congressman for life. Then came his wife's indictment and eventual sentencing to prison in October of 2010 due to her involvement in filing false tax returns on behalf of her brothers' illegal gambling operation run out on Antigua. Tierney survived in 2010, a month after his wife's sentencing, with 57% of the vote against nut job attorney Bill Hudak. The fact that an arch-conservative barely running a campaign got to 43% against Tierney left Republicans smelling blood. Sensing his opportunity, former long time State Senator and 2010 Lt. Gov nominee Richard Tisei jumped into the race. Tisei, a Wakefield realtor, is socially moderate and fiscally conservative, and was extremely popular throughout the southern flank of the 6th district. Tisei was quick to let outside groups pound Tierney for his unsatisfactory denial of any knowledge of his wife's transgressions while they were happening. Tierney was never known as a people person and barely set foot in the 6th district in his 16 years in office. Tisei out raised Tierney during every quarter of the campaign, and his well funded and well organized campaign has far outpaced Tierney's rusty campaign machine, which hadn't been operated since his competitive 1998 rematch with former 6th district Republican Congressman Peter Torkildsen. Tisei's campaign, with the help of outside groups, has caught fire. The local media has not been kind to Tierney (who had never been kind to it), and Tisei was endorsed by the Boston Herald, papers from Salem, North Andover, and all around the district. He was even endorsed by the Boston Globe, a rare accomplishment for any Republican. Expect to see Tisei thump Tierney, whose desperate ads have been laughably awful, by around 10 points. Even if Scott Brown loses, Richard Tisei will be Massachusetts' voice in Washington for, hopefully, years to come.
Michigan: Three competitive races
Michigan's 1st Congressional district (Upper Peninsula, Traverse City, Manistee)
Rating: Tilts D for Gary McDowell
Analysis: Bart Stupak, the long term 1st district Democratic incumbent, retired in 2010 after attracting national notoriety for the "Stupak Amendment" to the ACA. Dr. Dan Benishek was the lucky beneficiary of being the first in the race to oppose him, and won his primary by a razor thin margin. He then won a hard fought victory against then-State Senator Gary McDowell who ran a strong campaign himself. 2012 features a rematch between the two candidates. The red wave is gone, and Benishek has been a fiercely conservative voice in the US House. This hasn't jived well in a seat used to pork and preferential treatment, thanks to Bart Stupak. Understandably, his constituent services for and visibility in the district haven't been as strong as the long-term incumbent Stupak's were. Those weaknesses, in conjunction with McDowell's strong campaign, have weakened Benishek. While he still could win, largely thanks to the NRA's endorsement, Benishek simply hasn't done enough in his district to be favored. This extremely fickle seat is more likely than not to toss Dr. Dan in 2012.
Michigan's 3rd Congressional district (Grand Rapids and most of its suburbs, Battle Creek)
Rating: Leans R for Justin Amash
Analysis: The Grand Rapids metropolitan area, and even much of Grand Rapids itself, has been heavily Republican for years. While it has moderated at the Presidential level, it is still extremely Republican down ballot. However, the brand of Republicanism Grand Rapids is used to is not that of Justin Amash, a Hayek-loving libertarian who has been described by many as "Ron Paul's successor." Amash, the first Congressman to personal explain his every vote on Facebook, has been one of the most accountable and accessible House members. However, his propensity for voting present when he deems a proposal unconstitutional has angered some Grand Rapids area voters. Amash would still be completely safe in the old MI-03, but the addition of the more reflexively Democratic Calhoun County to the seat has made this race competitive. Amash's opponent, former State Rep Steve Pestka, is a moderate Democrat who was extremely popular in his time in Lansing. Amash has been hammering him for missing 191 votes in Lansing over his decade plus tenure in office, a sign that he's moderately worried about Pestka's challenge. Regardless, the Republican nature of the seat and Amash's appealing nature to many independents, largely thanks to his accountability, means that he'll be heading back for a second term.
Michigan's 11th Congressional district (Troy, Livonia, Canton, Milford, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills)
Rating: Leans R for Kerry Bentivolio
Analysis: We can thank our lucky stars that the Republican legislature decided to give most of Thaddeus McCotter's old MI-11's heavily black and heavily white and unionized western Wayne County towns to John Dingell's new seat. McCotter would have survived in the new seat as long as he wanted it, until he was forced to resign when it was found that his campaign was forging ballot access petition signatures. Unfortunately for the Oakland County GOP, that left reindeer rancher, former high school teacher, Vietnam and Iraq veteran, and all around "crazy uncle" type Kerry Bentivolio, who had lost a primary for a State Senate seat in 2010, as the only option on the ballot. When a write in campaign by former State Senator Nancy Cassis failed to take down Bentivolio in the GOP primary, he became the favorite to win the seat in November. Dr. Syed Taj, a Canton Township trustee, is his opponent. Taj is an extreme liberal who advocates for a single payer healthcare system. Luckily for Bentivolio, MI-11, with a plethora of working class voters with an "American first" mantra, is probably not the best place in the world to run a Muslim named Syed Taj. Expect to see Bentivolio railroaded in the 2014 primary, but he'll happily serve a term in the US House.
Minnesota: Two competitive races
Minnesota's 6th Congressional district (Anoka, Blaine, St. Cloud, Watertown)
Rating: Likely R for Michele Bachmann
Analysis: While Michele Bachmann will always be prone to making that one fatal statement that outrageous enough voters to take her down, that probably won't ever happen in this Evangelical heavy, conservative district that got even more conservative in redistricting. That being said, hotel magnate Jim Graves has run an excellent, centrist campaign. Still, you betcha Michele Bachmann will be back in Washington in 2013.
Minnesota's 8th Congressional district (Duluth, Brainerd, Chisago County)
Rating: Leans D for Rick Nolan
Analysis: Chip Cravaack unseated an absolute political titan when he defeated 18-term incumbent Jim Oberstar in 2010. That being said, this Iron Range based seat is probably just too reflexively Democratic for Cravaack to win a second term in against Rick Nolan. Nolan, a former Congressman from the Brainerd area, looks likely to defeat Cravaack. The southern flank of the district, exurban Minneapolis/St. Paul, is likely to vote strongly in favor of Cravaack. However, the Iron Range will go strongly for Nolan. Cravaack would need to run up the score in the Brainerd area in order to win, but Rick Nolan's hometown status will prevent him from doing so. Cravaack has been an excellent Congressman and I hope he's able to happily rejoin the rest of his family in New Hampshire, where his wife moved for work halfway through his freshman term, and I just know he'll have a productive future. Thanks for taking down Jim Oberstar, Chip.
Mississippi: No competitive races
Missouri: No competitive races
Montana: No competitive races
Nebraska: No competitive races
Nevada: Two competitive races
Nevada's 3rd Congressional district (Henderson, Enterprise, Silver City, Bullhead City)
Rating: Likely R for Joe Heck
Analysis: The massive movement of population into the Las Vegas area has grinded to a halt, and even has reversed itself in most areas. That bodes well for Joe Heck, whose district had been trending away from Republicans. Heck got a three point improvement in redistricting, and a Romney win in his district will only help him run up the score on John Oceguera. Oceguera, Heck's sleazy opponent and the Nevada House Speaker, has been collecting from a cushy pension since the age of 43 and will be collecting more, soon. Voters, and John Ralston, have been outraged by Oceguera's actions (and rightfully so). Expect Heck to run for US Senate in 2016. To read more about how scummy John Oceguera is, read this: http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/me... and this: http://www.lasvegassun.com/new...
Nevada's 4th Congressional district (North Las Vegas, Sunrise Manor, cow counties of rural central Nevada)
Rating: Tilts R for Danny Tarkanian
Analysis: The minority heavy slice of North Las Vegas was supposedly almost assured to send native son Stephen Horsford to Congress in this 56% Obama seat. However, much like in the 3rd district, foreclosures and population loss has halted Democratic growth in this seat. Mitt Romney will probably narrowly lose the 4th, and the Republican nominee, Danny Tarkanian, is in good position to capitalize on Romney's performance. The Tarkanian name is golden in Nevada, with Danny's father, Jerry, having served as a legendary UNLV basketball coach and his mother, Lois, currently serving as a Las Vegas City Councilor. While a huge lien against Tarkanian's family was expected to derail his candidacy, Horsford's apparent corruption (http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/politics/Republicans_hit_Horsford_as_one_of_most_corrupt_Democratic_candidates.html) has been pounded into the head of 4th district voters. Tarkanian's been up in every public poll in recent memory, and the race has gotten so far out of Horsford's hands that he needed President Obama to cut him an ad. While Obama could drag Horsford across the finish line, expect Nevadans to send Danny Tarkanian to Congress in 2013.
New Hampshire: Two competitive races
New Hampshire's 1st Congressional district (Manchester, Rye, Salem, Portsmouth, Laconia)
Rating: Tilts R for Frank Guinta
Analysis: Incumbent freshman Congressman Frank Guinta, the former Manchester mayor, was born in New Jersey and raised in Connecticut. A fairly recent comer to New Hampshire, his urban politician personality wasn't exactly a great fit for the district. To make matters worse, his failure to report a bank account of his when he was first running was coming back to haunt him. Because of all of this, Guinta was on a losing trajectory until the middle of September. His opponent, former Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, looked likely to beat him by a low single digit margin. However, since September, Guinta has really turned the race around. His campaign has been well organized, his fundraising picked up, and he showed some real fire in his belly in the district's debates. To make matters better for Guinta, Shea Porter, known to be a little empty up there, has been campaigning as a "bold progressive." Expect Romney to either narrowly win the 1st district and for Frank Guinta to head back to Washington.
New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional district (Nashua, Concord, Peterborough, Hanover)
Rating: Tilts D for Annie Kuster
Analysis: Unlike Frank Guinta's chances, incumbent Congressman Charlie Bass's chances have worsened since the summer. Bass, in his 2nd stint in the House after being defeated in 2006, is a moderate and a tremendous fit for the fiercely independent, yet Democratic leaning, seat. However, Bass's repeat Annie Kuster comes from a well known, and well respected, New Hampshire political family. Bass was only narrowly able to fight off Kuster in 2010, and it's looking more and more like a narrow loss for Charlie Bass, even though Kuster roughed up a tracker from the Bass campaign and took Bass' mic during the middle of a debate.
Pennsylvania's little sisterNew Jersey: One competitive race
*New Jersey's 3rd Congressional district (Willingboro Twp, Toms River, Mt Laurel)
Rating: Likely R for Jon Runyan
Analysis: Former Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan faces widow of his predecessor, and resident of NJ-01, Camden County's Shelly Adler. The race, while initially expected to be close has moved away from Adler in this Bush/Obama seat. Romney looks likely to win this seat, and on top of being well-known and well-liked from his career with the Eagles, Runyan lives in light blue Mt Laurel and all the areas near his home, with the highest concentration of Eagles fans are, on average, light blue. If he weren't lucky enough to have gotten Cherry Hill excised from his seat, and have the remaining light blue areas closer to Philly consist of the exact kind of socially moderate/liberal fiscal conservatives who are most likely to split their tickets for Republicans down ballot; his response to Sandy, and its dominance of the news and his constituents' attention will ultimately cause him to run a Gerlach-esque 8-10 points ahead of Romney.
New Mexico: No competitive races
New York: Nine competitive races
New York's 1st Congressional district (Suffolk County, Long Island)
Rating: Tilts D for Tim Bishop
Analysis: The Suffolk County-based 1st district would have gone Republican in 2010 without a disastrously divisive primary leaving the eventual nominee, Randy Altschuler, all bruised and bloodied. That being said, Tim Bishop's in good position to win in 2012. Bishop is known to have excellent constituent services, which mask his ultra-liberal voting record. His constituent services are so good, in fact, that he's even allegedly willing to be paid off for favors (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79722.html). That being said, those allegations never seemed to hurt Bishop too much, and the race seems to favor the incumbent by mid-single digits. However, it's very possible that a strong Romney tide on Long Island helps pull Altschuler, who won the IP ballot label, across the finish line. That being said, it's still less than probable that Altschuler wins.
New York's 11th Congressional district
Rating: Likely R for Michael Grimm
Analysis: Michael Grimm, an ex-FBI agent and restaurant owner, is the perfect fit for his Staten Island and south Brooklyn-based, largely working class district. That being said, he doesn't seem to associate with the best of people. A string of allegations, including a supposedly impending FBI investigation, were a huge threat to Grimm's career. However, it seems as if none of the many potential scandals actually exploded, and Grimm's opponent, Mark Murphy (yes, the son of John Murphy, the former Congressman who was jailed in the Abscam scandal) never gained any traction. Grimm's also been on the ball in his response to Hurricane Sandy, with has having been blasting away at Michael Bloomberg for diverting power generators and supplies to Manhattan from Staten Island so that the NYC marathon could proceed. Except Grimm to win a second term handily.
New York's 18th Congressional district (Bedford, Pound Ridge, Somers, Putnam and Orange Counties, Poughkeepsie)
Rating: Leans R for Nan Hayworth
Analysis: After a poor response to Hurricane Irene, opthamologist and incumbent Congresswoman Nan Hayworth looked to be in serious trouble. However, the affable and capable Princeton graduate has run an excellent campaign. She's been slamming away at her opponent, Manhattan's own former Clinton aide Sean Patrick Maloney (yes, not just Sean, and not just Patrick, but Sean Patrick) for carpetbagging and being a down the line liberal. Expect the lower Hudson Valley and upper Westchester County to re-elect Congresswoman Hayworth, who has served her district well.
New York's 19th Congressional district (The upper Hudson Valley: Ulster County, Columbia County, Oneonta, Cooperstown)
Rating: Leans R for Chris Gibson
Analysis: Chris Gibson was dealt a tough hand at the redistricting table, adding Ulster County and other liberal bastions to his seat, thanks to Maurice Hinchey's district being dismantled. Barack Obama may well win this district again, albeit more narrowly, but Gibson, a former West Point professor and high ranking military officer, has positioned himself extremely well to appeal to moderate voters. Gibson is a gentleman and a statesman and deserves a second term, which he will gain over former assistant-federal prosecutor Julian Schreibman.
New York's 21st Congressional district (Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Gouverneur)
Rating: Leans D for Bill Owens
Analysis: Had Doug Hoffman not have stayed on the ballot in the 2010 general election as a Conservative Party nominee, we'd be calling Congressman Bill Owens' 2012 challenger, Matt Doheny, "Congressman." Owens, who ran against the ACA and then voted for it, is about as slick of a politician as exists. Regardless, the Vermontification of North Country has caused this seat to trend to the left, and it looks like Bill Owens will be heading back for a second full term. Upstate NY loves reelecting its incumbents and Bill Owens looks to be no exception.
New York's 23rd Congressional district (Ithaca, Geneva, and the Southern Tier)
Rating: Likely R for Tom Reed
Analysis: Ithaca and Geneva, two college towns, are islands of blue in this seat of dark, dark red. With this seat voting for Romney in 2012, look for Reed to demolish Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa.
New York's 24th Congressional district (Syracuse, Auburn, Oswego, Wayne County)
Rating: Tilts D for Dan Maffei
Analysis: Arch-conservative Ann Marie Buerkle was one of the surprise winners of the 2010 midterm elections, narrowly defeating freshman Dan Maffei. Maffei, an inoffensive and hardworking type of guy, decided to run again in 2012. Without the Green Party nominee in the race, Buerkle, an 100 ACU score type of conservative in a D+ seat scratches head, would be toast. However, a new Siena poll came out today showing Buerkle and Maffei tied at 44. While Buerkle probably narrowly loses, another narrow victory should not surprise anyone this time around.
New York's 25th Congressional district
Rating: Leans D for Louise Slaughter
Analysis: Octogenarian Louise Slaughter desperately did not want her district to condense to simply Monroe County, largely thanks to the presence of popular Republican County Executive Maggie Brooks. However, it did just that, and Slaughter was stuck with tons of new territory. Brooks decided to challenge her, but this race seems to be a bridge too far in a Presidential year, with the urban centers of Rochester and Irondequoit turning out far more strongly in presidential election years than in midterm years. Look for Slaughter to retire in 2014, once she realizes that Republicans will hold the House for quite some time, and for Brooks to mount a strong challenge in this Republican-friendly (but only in midterm years), Democratic-leaning district.
New York's 27th Congressional district (Batavia, Geneseo, Hamburg, Albion)
Rating: Tilts R for Chris Collins
Analysis: Kathy Hochul Mediscared herself to Congress in a 2011 special election against a weak nominee in Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. That being said, she's had strong constituent services and has run a solid campaign. Her liberal voting record, however, will probably do her in in this seat that was New York's only district to vote against Andrew Cuomo. Former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, who was popular in the NY-27 section of Erie County, will underperform Mitt Romney in this heavily Catholic and socially conservative seat. Had her seat have gained Niagara Falls, she would have had a better chance at winning, but Collins should still perform strongly enough to eek out a win.
North Carolina: Two competitive races
North Carolina's 7th Congressional district (Johnston County, Wilmington, Warsaw)
Rating: Leans D for Mike McIntyre
Analysis: Republicans thought Mike McIntyre was a dead man walking upon adding Raleigh exurbs to his district and excising his home base of Lumberton from the district. However, Republican nominee and State Senator David Rouzer has underwhelmed in fundraising and campaigning, letting McIntyre dominate the airwaves and even assert that he is the better conservative fit for the district in the race. Rouzer has been catching up, but it's too little, too late and the NC GOP had better find a better nominee to take down McIntyre in 2014. The silver lining in this race, as with GA-12, is that Mike McIntyre will now be forced to be a legitimate conservative on most votes if he wants to survive in this seat that Barack Obama won't even crack 40% in in 2012.
North Carolina's 8th Congressional district (Kannapolis, Concord, Monroe, Rockingham, Lumberton)
Rating: Likely R for Richard Hudson
Analysis: Larry Kissell only survived 2010 because of his Obama-won seat's arms into blac sections of Charlotte and Fayetteville. With those arms gone, and replaced by ruby red counties, Kissell was forced to shift to the right and run as a conservative Democrat. Well, that hasn't gone well for Kissell and Republicans got the nominee we wanted in political staffer Richard Hudson. Hudson has both out raised and out campaigned Kissell, whose shift to the right hasn't resonated. Expect Hudson to underperform Romney in this ConservaDem filled district, but expect him to win by a hefty margin.
North Dakota: No competitive races
Ohio: Two competitive races
Ohio's 6th Congressional district (Cambridge, Canfield, Steubenville, Marietta)
Rating: Leans R for Bill Johnson
Analysis: Freshman Congressman Bill Johnson beat Charlie Wilson (no, not that Charlie Wilson) in a late breaking race after a 1989 police report revealing that Wilson was a wife beater surfaced on BigGovernment.com. Wilson is back and trying to reclaim the ancestrally Democratic seat he lost two years ago. However, he has a difficult path to victory in trying to appeal to these culturally conservative, economically liberal voters in Appalachian, Bible Belt type counties like Jefferson, Belmont and Monroe Counties. Those counties, along with most of the district, probably don't much care for wife beaters like Wilson. His path to victory got even tougher when the Democratic stronghold of Athens was excised from the district. Regardless of the fact that John McCain got 54% here in 2008, and that George W Bush got 54% here in 2004, these conservaDems have no problem voting for a populist like Sherrod Brown. If Obama outperforms Kerry anywhere in Ohio, it is here where his newfound populism is likely to play well, and the Bain attacks seem to be working, and Romney's "47%" comment is likely to irk many voters. If Ted Strickland were running for Congress again, this race would Lean D, at best.
Ohio's 16th Congressional district (Wooster, North Olmsted, Medina, Rootstown)
Rating: Tilts R for Jim Renacci
Summary: Republican Jim Renacci, a multi-millionaire car dealership owner from Medina, and Democrat Betty Sutton, an Akron area labor lawyer, were the two incumbents paired in this marquee matchup. Renacci and Sutton both acknowledge that they are running as true to their party's ideologies, and neither has been quick to run to the center (although Renacci frequently touts his bipartisan breakfast club that he formed with Delaware Democrat John Carney and a few other members). While the 16th district, which voted for John McCain by four points, leans Republican, Mitt Romney is having severe issues in Ohio. The 16th district is union heavy, and Mitt Romney's only likely to win it by a similar margin as McCain did. Sutton's fatal flaw may be waiting until October to advertise on television, although Renacci was recently questioned for pulling his broadcast television advertisements with two weeks left in the race. Renacci responded by both releasing an internal showing himself comfortably ahead, and by saying that the television market in OH-16 was already oversaturated with political advertisements. The margin in this race should closely track the margin in the Presidential race, and since Romney probably wins the 16th by a few points, Jim Renacci should, too.
Oklahoma: One competitive race
*OK-02 (Muskogee, Durant, McAlester)
Rating: Likely R for Markwayne Mullin
Analysis: After Dan Boren announced his retirement, this district looked like a sure thing for the GOP, but it was revealed that Mullin made a comment illustrating a lack of understanding of the term "single payer." However, that still doesn't hurt his candidacy, and Wallace still faces an uphill climb. The only reason this isn't Safe R is the fact that the district covers "Little Dixie" which to this day has areas that are 80-90% Democratic by registration.
Oregon: No competitive races
Pennsylvania: One competitive race (Sorry, doubters, but Mike Fitzpatrick is safe with Mitt Romney looking like he'll potentially win Bucks County)
Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district (Beaver County, the North Hills of Allegheny County, northern Westmoreland County, Johnstown and most of the rest of Cambria County, and half of Somerset County)
Rating: Tilts R for Keith Rothfus
Analysis: Incumbent 12th district Democratic Congressman Mark Critz stunned much of the political world when he rode his union-fueled political machine to a narrow victory over incumbent 4th district Democratic Congressman in the 2012 primary for the majority-Altmire controlled new 12th district. This set him up for a battle with commercial and corporate lawyer Keith Rothfus, of the North Hills of Allegheny County. Rothfus, a cancer survivor, is an extremely nice guy and a family man who has run an earnest and honest race against Congressman Critz. Considering how, after the 1st debate, Romney is likely to reach between 58 and 60% in the 12th district, Mark Critz has to scare off as many potential Rothfus voters as possible in order to win. Therefore, Critz has been running a desperate and negative campaign againast Rotfhus, and has even descended into being totally mean spirited, at times (see this article I wrote: http://www.redracinghorses.com... ) Critz will have a strong, union-powered turnout machine, the same one that propelled him to a victory in the 2010 general election and his 2012 primary upset of Jason Altmire. If Rothfus can overperform Romney in Allegheny County's wealthy and conservative North Hills, which is a possibility, he can put Critz away. Still, a strong performance by Rothfus in suburbanizing and Republican-trending Beaver County, as well as holding his ground in Westmoreland County, should be enough to put away Mark Critz, who will massively over-perform in Cambria County. Sorry, Johnstown, but you won't be having your own Congressman anymore. Although a Critz victory wouldn't surprise me, this race has broken towards Rothfus as of late, and I expect Rothfus to win by 2-4 points.
Rhode Island: One competitive race
RI-02 (Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket)
Rating: Leans D for David Cicilline
Analysis: This 67% Obama seat, containing most of Providence and the heavily Democratic mill town of Woonsocket, would normally never be competitie. However, its incumbent, David Cicilline, has abysmal favorability ratings in his district thanks to his destroying Providence's finances while mayor. Former RI State Police Superintendent Brian Doherty has the right blue collar touch to compete in this seat under these circumstances. However, with so much of Providence (and Brown University) in the seat, it's hard for me to imagine Cicilline losing.
South Carolina: No competitive races
South Dakota: No competitive races
Tennessee: One competitive race
TN-04 (Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Cleveland)
Rating: Leans R for Scott DesJarlais
Analysis: Dr. Scott DesJarlais, whom I suspect was the mysterious member from Tennessee who stopped the TN Legislature from blasting Jim Cooper all the way to Kentucky or Alabama, is suddenly vulnerable because of his heinous actions a decade ago. DesJarlais calls "all life sacred," yet pressured his patient, whom he had an affair with, to get an abortion when he thought she was pregnant. This, in conjunction with accusations that were aired in 2010 of him beating his wife and holding a gun to his mouth for hours, has derailed his campaign. While he still probably wins, thanks to these scandals only breaking three weeks ago, look for him to get thrashed in a 2014 primary.
Texas: Two competitive races
*Texas' 14th Congressional district (Beaumont, Galveston, Friendswood, Surfside Beach)
Rating: Likely R for Randy Weber
Analysis: Despite the fact that Lampson is running in a district that is fairly geographically similar to the one that first sent him to Congress in 1996, the district, with suburbanization in Galveston County, and exurbanization in eastern Chambers County, has an electorate that is more Republican and less willing to split its tickets than the electorate that first sent Lampson to Washington. While our nominee, State Rep Randy Weber was probably one of our weaker candidates, and will likely underperform Romney, he is still likely to pull it out. Lampson, apparently a glutton for punishment, should have just remained in Fremont, CA, instead of coming back to TX to lose for a third time.
*Texas' 23rd Congressional district (San Antonio, Helotes, Eagle Pass, El Paso)
Rating: Leans R for Francisco "Quico" Canseco
Analysis: Canseco is running, other than that ill-advised mailer, a perfect campaign for this vast district that stretches from the fringes of suburban San Antonio to the fringes of suburban El Paso. The NRCC is attacking Quico's opponent, State Rep Pete Gallego, for his environmentalism, which will likely work in this district which contains several West Texas oil fields. While Gallego is a tougher opponent for Canseco than Ciro Rodriguez, he hasn't seemed to pose much of a threat to Canseco. Romney is looking likely to get 51-52 in this district due to increased suburban turnout, so I expect Canseco to also pull out a narrow victory.
Utah: One competitive race
*Utah's 4th Congressional district (Salt Lake City, West Jordan, Nephi)
Rating: Tilts Republican for Mia Love
Analysis: The 4th is a district running from southern Salt Lake City, on down I-15, to several miles south of Nephi. Our candidate here is the previously little-known Mayor of the comparatively small city of Saratoga Springs, Mia Love. Matheson's (undeserved, in my opinion) reputation as a moderate, and Love's inability to articulate policy against the articulate Matheson in the debates are what makes this race close, despite the fact that Romney will likely get 70-75 in this district. What saves the rather underwhelming Love is the reflexively Republican nature of voters in Utah County. The only question is is this enough to drown out the more Democratic voters in the Salt Lake County portion of this district, when taking into account the rather significant number of Romney/Matheson voters there will be.
Vermont: No competitive races (as if you had to be told that)
Virginia: One competitive race
Virginia's 2nd Congressional district (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, Delmarva Peninsula)
Rating: Likely R for Scott Rigell
Analysis: Freshman Congressman Scott Rigell, a former successful car dealership owner and Marine, has been an excellent Representative in his first term. He's been articulate, accessible, and extremely visible in his district. Rigell has also impressively reached out to his district's large black population through working with local black pastors on policy initiatives that could help out the urban communities in his district. His opponent, venture capitalist (and Democrat? Hah! Strange combination) Paul Hirschbiel, released a poll a few weeks ago showing himself down by high single digits, meaning Rigell is pretty much completely safe. Rigell deserves reelection and should be treated as a rising star.
Washington: One competitive race
Washington's 1st Congressional district (Redmond, Kirkland, Medina, Snohomish, Mount Vernon, Blaine)
Rating: Leans Democrat for Suzan DelBene
Analysis: This isn't Jay Inslee's 1st district anymore, folks. The 1st district dropped progressive Bainbridge Island and much of deep blue southern Snohomish and northern King Counties in redistricting and picked up Medina and its surrounding wealthy communities along with a large swath of inland rural Washington, all of which is west of the Cascades, that goes up to the Canadian border. Former Microsoft higher up Suzan DelBene, Rep Dave Reichert's strong Democratic challenger from 2010, is running for the 1st district in 2012. The Republican candidate is John Koster, a Snohomish County Councilman who twice narrowly lost to Rick Larsen in WA-02. The lean of the district and Koster's marginal primary performance lead most observers to suspect that DelBene is going to win, but expect Koster to get to ~47-48%. If Republican Rob McKenna can pull off an upset victory in his gubernatorial race, this race could become an upset special.
West Virginia: No competitive races (Don't even try to pretend that Nick Rahall isn't going to lose by at least 20 points!1!1!/snark.)
Wisconsin: One competitive races (the 8th district is no longer competitive enough to be worth noting)
Wisconsin's 7th Congressional district (Ashland, Wausau, Rhinelander)
Rating: Leans Republican for Sean Duffy
Analysis: The 7th Congressional district is a Northwestern Wisconsin based, union heavy, and blue collar district that has become more friendly to Republicans over the years. Freshman Sean Duffy is a former Ashland County District Attorney who once was a star on MTV's "The Real World." Duffy, who scared long term incumbent Dave Obey into retirement in 2010, got off to a rocky start in Congress (to say the least). Perennially making gaffes, Duffy bemoaned living on a Congressional salary with his having to raise six kids. However, Duffy has strongly recovered from his initial missteps and has become a far more careful communicator. Duffy's been very visible in his district, especially after moving to its more populated southern flank, and has run a strong campaign, characterized by his hilarious, but effective, lumberjack themed advertisements. Duffy's an effective, fresh face, and should defeat his formidable Democratic opponent, former State Senator Pat Kreitlow, by an upper single-digit margin. That being said, Mitt Romney's biggest issues in any swing Congressional district in Wisconsin probably come in the 7th, where he will not perform as strongly as he will in the 8th (although he should, indeed, win the 7th district's vote by a few points).
Wyoming: No competitive races
*Note: Thank you, GradyDem, for writing such a wonderful GA-12 write up. Thank you, TexasR, for covering the Texas and Oklahoma races along with NJ-03 and UT-04. The volume of writing all of these summaries just became a bit too time consuming and I figured these users had particular knowledge about these districts, although I did rate the districts myself.