News Not As Gloomy For Democrats As Media Describes

If this year follows historical trends for an off-year election, the Republicans should pick up at least 25 to 30 house seats. Beyond the usual advantage for the party out of power in such off-year elections, the Democrats have to defend many House seats which have traditionally been in Republican hands. Repeating the victories of the last two election cycles will be difficult in some of these areas without Obama on the ballot and with Bush gone. Despite this, recent news has sometimes been overly pessimistic for the Democrats.

There has been a lot of talk about Democrats retiring, which can be taken both as a sign of pessimism and as another obstacle to holding onto some districts. Chris Cillizzia shows that the situation is not as bad as much of the media has described:

While much of the focus for the last month (or so) has been on Democrats’ retirement problems — set off by a quartet of announcements in swing and Republican-leaning districts over the last month — a broad look at the open seat playing field suggests more parity in terms of the two parties’ opportunities and vulnerabilities than conventional wisdom suggests.

Republicans currently carry 14 open seats while Democrats have 10. Each side has three seats won by the other party’s presidential candidate in 2008; for Democrats, that’s Louisiana’s 3rd district and Tennessee’s 6th and 8th districts while for Republicans it’s Delaware’s at-large seat, Illinois’ 10th district and Pennsylvania’s 6th district…

All told, Republicans are defending nine open seats that McCain either lost or won with less than 60 percent of the vote in 2008 while Democrats are on defense in seven seats lost by Obama or won with less than 60 percent…

What a close examination of the current open seat landscape reveals, however, is that the talk of a doomsday scenario for House Democrats simply hasn’t materialized yet. Are they likely headed to double-digit losses come November? Yes. But, talk of a switch in House control is, at least at this point, premature.

Republican Open Seats (14)
Delaware’s at-large (Obama 62 percent)
California’s 19th (McCain 52 percent)
Florida’s 12th (McCain 50 percent)
Georgia’s 9th (McCain 75 percent)
Illinois’ 10th (Obama 61 percent)
Kansas’ 1st (McCain 69 percent)
Kansas’ 4th (McCain 58 percent)
Michigan’s 2nd (McCain 51 percent)
Missouri’s 7th (McCain 63 percent)
Oklahoma’s 5th (McCain 59 percent)
Pennsylvania’s 6th (Obama 58 percent)
South Carolina’s 1st (McCain 56 percent)
South Carolina’s 3rd (McCain 64 percent)
Tennessee’s 3rd (McCain 62 percent)

Democratic Open Seats (10)
Alabama’s 7th (Obama 74 percent)
Florida’s 17th (Obama 87 percent)
Hawaii’s 1st (Obama 70 percent)
Kansas’ 3rd (Obama 51 percent)
Louisiana’s 3rd (McCain 61 percent)
New Hampshire’s 2nd (Obama 56 percent)
Pennsylvania’s 7th (Obama 56 percent)
Tennessee’s 6th (McCain 62 percent)
Tennessee’s 8th (McCain 56 percent)
Washington’s 3rd (Obama 53 percent)

While I don’t know the specifics in most of these districts, don’t expect a Democrat to win  Pete Hoekstra’s seat in Western Michigan despite the 2008 presidential election results.

Republicans have tried to capitalize on Parker Griffith’s defection, but this means little as he was previously a conservative Democrat who fit in better with the GOP. It appears that things are not even going all that well for Griffith. His staff has walked out on him in protest over his change in party affiliation. Most of his political consultants already dropped him. Steve Benen and David Weigel have also noted how the Republicans are not exactly welcoming him as he faces challenges from the far right.

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