The Washington-based newsletter rates the Edwards-Flores race as “Republican favored,” which basically means the race is not competitive. The Rodriguez race against Quico Canseco is rated as “Leans Democrat,” which means Rodriguez is ahead but the race is competitive. No mention is made of the Ortiz-Farenthold race.
I regard the Rodriguez race as tilting Democratic, as opposed to leaning. The 2006 race was a special election held on election day. Rodriguez barely got into a runoff with Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla. The special election was ordered by a three-judge federal court, because the Tom DeLay redistricting map had split Webb County, which the Supreme Court said violated the Voting Rights Act. Republicans were demoralized because the Democrats had won the White House and both houses of Congress and the R’s didn’t vote.
Rodriguez won a smashing victory over Republican Lyle Larson in 2008.
Obviously, the situation is different this year. Is it enough different to close the gap? The district runs from Bexar County to El Paso, an area approximately the size of Pennsylvania. It is sparsely settled. Only six counties had any sizable vote in 06: Bexar, Maverick (Eagle Pass), Medina (Hondo), Uvalde (Uvalde), Val Verde (Del Rio), and Zavala (Crystal City).
Here’s how those counties voted in 2006, the previous gubernatorial election year:
Bexar: Rodriguez 25,617 - Bonilla 19,953
Maverick: Rodriguez 2,857 - Bonilla 471
Medina: Rodriguez 1,511 - Bonilla 3,177
Uvalde: Rodriguez 1,225 - Bonilla 1,874
Val Verde: Rodriguez 1,873 - Bonilla 1,942
Zapata: Rodriguez 1,280 - Bonilla 255
You can see the problem for Republicans. The only big Republican vote outside of Bexar is Medina County. But there are two Democratic machine counties that roll up huge margins for Democrats, Maverick and Zavala. Val Verde splits. Uvalde votes two to one Republican, but neither the population nor the margin is enough to neutralize the machine counties. This is a Democratic district. Rodriguez ought to win. But he is a weak candidate, and a big Republican turnout in Bexar could beat him. That’s why I rate the race as (barely) tilts Democratic.
UPDATE: The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight projects Cansecso 49.3%, Rodriguez for 48.4% and estimates Canseco’s chance of winning at 55.4%.