A friend e-mailed me the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s target list of Republican seats. I have omitted district numbers. The percentage shown is the incumbent’s share of the vote in 2006. Anyone who is a real junkie about this should get the Almanac of American Politics, a brilliantly written compilation that has profiles of all senators, governors, members of Congress, and their districts, and information about their voting records, fundraising, career, and recent races.
Alaska (Young) 57%
Arizona (Renzi, open seat) 52%
Arizona (Shadegg) 59%
California (Doolittle) 49% – Under investigation in a lobbying scandal, he is stepping down. This gives the Rs a chance to hold the seat.
California (Dreier) 57%
California (Bilbray) 53%
Colorado (Musgrave) 46% – This was a race between two women in 06. I watched a debate on C-Span. They were mean!
Connecticut (Shays) 51% – He’s a good member. As I recall, he was very critical of Tom DeLay.
Florida (Killer) 53% – Is this a good political name?
Florida (Bilirakis) 56%
Florida (Buchanan) 50%
Florida (Feeney) 58%
Idaho (Sali) 50%
Illinois (Kirk) 53%
Illinois (Weller, open seat) 55%
Illinois (Hastert, open seat) 60% – The former speaker’s seat.
Michigan (Walberg) 51%
Michigan (Knollenberg) 52%
Minnesota (Ramstad, open seat) 65%
Minnesota (Bachmann) 50%
Missouri (Graves) 62%
Nevada (Porter) 58%
New Jersey (Saxton, open seat) 58%
New Jersey (Ferguson, open seat) 49%
New Mexico (Wilson, open seat) 50%
New Mexico (Pearce, open seat) 59%
New York (Fossella) 57%
New York (Walsh) 51%
New York (Reynolds) 52%
New York (Kuhl) 51%
North Carolina (Hayes) 50%
Ohio (Chabot) 52%
Ohio (Schmidt) 50%
Ohio (LaTourette) 58%
Ohio (Pryce, open seat) 50%
Ohio (Regula, open seat)
Pennsylvania (English) 54%
Washington (Reichert) 51%
West Virginia (Capito) 51%
Wyoming (Cubin) 48%
A few observations:
1. The Democrats’ list looks padded to me. Any incumbent who won more than 55% and, as the saying goes, hasn’t been caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, is not really vulnerable.
2. You can really see the red state/blue state divide here. In the entire South, the Democrats can only find two states in which to contest seats–Florida and North Carolina. Not even Virginia, which is increasingly in play for the Ds. The same is true of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain states: no contests except for single seats in Idaho, Wyoming, and Idaho. New Mexico is a swing state, and the Ds are contesting two seats there.
3. Ds are concentrating their fire on states that are blue-friendly–California, the Midwest, the Northeast (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania). Ohio, a red state that is in the process of becoming a swing state, is the biggest battleground with five seats. The Ds benefited in 06 from scandals that enmeshed Governor Robert Taft. They won’t have that advantage in 08.
4. In Texas, no Republican incumbent received fewer than 55% of the vote in 2006. Five incumbents received between 55% and 60%:
Michael McCaul (Austin) 55.28%
Pete Sessions (Dallas) 56.42%
John Carter (Round Rock) 58.48%
Kenny Marchant (North Dallas suburbs) 59.28%
John Culberson (Houston) 59.19%
Some Ds believe that Culberson is vulnerable. He deserves to be; he is a kosher ideologue (doesn’t believe in bringing home the bacon). I was told this story: When asked by Houston business interests to help get federal money to plant trees along expressways, Culberson pulled out a pocket copy of the Constitution and said, Where in here does it say that the federal government can pay for trees?
The Democrats have fielded opponents to all of these candidates, but none has any substantial political credentials. Not one Democratic legislator thought it worthwhile to take a shot at a congressional seat – even in the Austin seat occupied by McCaul. That is a sign of how far the party has to go to be credible.
5. If you want another view of who is vulnerable, this one for both parties, check out Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. It lists the 28 Democrats and 33 Republicans who polled less than 55% of the two-party vote (that is, not counting Libertarians or Greens or other minor parties) in 2006.
5. Here is an analysis that accompanied the DCCC list, complied by the Washington consulting firm, Cassidy & Associates:
DCCC Target List: A list purported to be the active Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeting document is making the rounds on Capitol Hill. A copy is attached. The spreadsheet includes 40 seats, a number that may soon be reduced due to the Doolittle retirement announcement. The interesting analysis includes not only who is on the list, but also who isn’t. The inclusion of approximately twelve specific Republican incumbents is curious. Defeating any of them would have to be considered a long shot at the very least. Identifying Reps. John Shadegg (AZ-3), David Dreier (CA-26), Tom Reynolds (NY-26), and the Wyoming at-large seat as vulnerable targets, for example, raises some eyebrows especially when looking at the strength of the potential Democratic candidates in each of those districts.
Not including members who have previously been high on Democratic target lists like Reps. Geoff Davis (KY-4), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Tim Murphy (PA-18), and Thelma Drake (VA-2), could well mean the Democrats feel their best opportunity to win these seats has passed. And, despite talk in the liberal blogosphere which suggests that virtually all of the Republican open seats are competitive, this compilation of data reveals that the Democratic political professionals understand that open seats such as those belonging to Reps. Terry Everett (AL-2), Tom Tancredo (CO-6), and Chip Pickering (MS-3), among others, will remain safely in GOP hands.