Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking at the House

Could Republicans win back the House of Representatives next year? Yes, but it would take Democratic House members doing as badly at the polls as their party's Gubernatorial candidates did in Virginia and New Jersey this year.

Tim Kaine was elected Governor of Virginia by 6 points in 2005. This year Bob McDonnell won by 17, for a 23 point decline in Democratic performance from one election to the next. In New Jersey Jon Corzine was victorious by 11 points in 2005, then lost by 4 in his reelection bid this year for a 15 point drop in Democratic standing.

Average those out and between an extremely unpopular incumbent in Corzine and a woeful campaign by Creigh Deeds in Virginia you have a 19 point decline on the margin for the Democrats.

There are 51 seats in the House currently held by Democrats who won by 19 points or fewer last year. Assuming that Democratic losses in places even where they didn't have remotely close contests last year (Bart Gordon and John Tanner for instance) are offset by Democratic gains in some of their apparent easy pickings seats (Joseph Cao, Mike Castle, Mark Kirk, maybe Jim Gerlach) then Republicans would have to win 40 of those sub 19 point margin Democratic seats, or 78%.

Of course the vast majority of those Democratic incumbents will have something working for them that Creigh Deeds didn't (having been elected to their seats before) and that Jon Corzine didn't (it's unlikely many of them have 60% disapproval ratings.) So Republicans do have a chance at taking back the House but Democrats would have to be as incompetent in 2010 as they were in 2009 and that just doesn't seem real likely.

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