Political Animal


October 19, 2012 1:04 PM Battling House-to-House

By Ed Kilgore

So WaPo’s Chris Cillizza is out with The Fix’s list of the 60 House seats most likely to flip (36 currently held by Rs, 24 by Ds), and you don’t have to agree with them all (I don’t) to see some of the big patterns. Republicans continue to squeeze blood from turnips in extinguishing southern white Democrats (particularly in North Carolina, a redistricting fiasco for Dems), and Democrats have a lot of very big opportunities in Illinois and California.

Of the 60, 15 are in what have generally been considered the main battleground states (CO, IA, NV, OH, FL, VA). So last-minute developments in the presidential race could matter a lot. And also watch out for very big buys in non-battleground states, particularly by the pro-Republican Super-PACs and 501(c)(4)s.

I know some of you are familiar with the individual races Cillizza discusses here, so if you have any particular insights, feel free to share them in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Josef K on October 19, 2012 1:42 PM:

    Oddly, a German phrase comes to mind: rattenkreig. Literally "war of the rats", applied primarly to the battle of Stalingrad, which involved literal room-to-room fighting between the Axis and Soviet forces throughout the city.

    "We've won the living room, but we're still fighting in the kitchen." as paraphrased by one soldier.

    Seems apt, given the intensity levels involved.

  • Gandalf on October 19, 2012 1:53 PM:

    Sutton vs Renazi in Ohio wilshow if Ohioans are truly taken in or not. Sutton has been a sterling member of congress and Renacci has been one of the lowest forms of life in the house being bought and paid for by every slimy outfit there is.

  • Liz Stein on October 19, 2012 2:03 PM:

    Nan Hayworth has been a very bad match for her district; she ran as a moderate but voted as a tea-party clone. She has made the mistake of many 2010 newbies, thinking that her constituents wanted the package of social extremism along with the fiscal conservatism that the tea-party promised, and I think that choice will bounce her out. Her opponent is a very appealing guy, reasonable and relaxed, while Nan is shrill and comes across like that cheerleader you hated in high school.

  • meady on October 19, 2012 2:59 PM:

    CA-7 Bera vs Lungren. Hoping the redistricting helps Bera over the threshhold. My district was redrawn enabling my vote to actually have an impact on the outcome. The outside money is very evident. Most of the commercials have been from PACs not the candidates. I've seen more anti-Lungren than Bera adds. The commercials don't actually say vote for Bera, they just say how bad Lungren is. Ami Bera is a popular physcian in the area. You can swing a cat and hit someone who knows him personally. His reputation is very good. Lungren has done nothing for his district. In fact, his own ads list accomplishments he had when he was the Attorney General of California. He has done absolutely nothing that he can specify in ads because his votes have been party line votes. Not something you can advertise in the now far more diverse district. I have donated generously to Bera and hope that he wins this election. Unfortunately my vote for Bera is more of an protest vote against Lungren. I don't know what kind of politician Bera will be, but I do know that I don't want Lungren in Congress a day longer. If/when Lungren loses, he will not spend a moment in the district. He will probably go back to Orange County, where he really lives.

  • Peter C on October 19, 2012 3:01 PM:

    I really wonder what will happen with House races this year. It seems to me that there are a couple of factors that make using past history to predict results this time problematic.

    First, Congress is more unpopular than ever before. Now, I know, Congress is always somewhat unpopular and incumbents hardly ever lose. People hate Congress but like their representative. Still, record low approval ratings are records nonetheless. At some point, holding the record makes a difference.

    Also, Congress deserves its unpopularity; itís been absolutely dysfunctional this past term and was bitterly unpleasant for Obamaís first two years. I canít think of anything of substance that has passed this year. This, too, is a record.

    Lastly, I donít expect ticket-splitting this year. If you are aware of the political situation, you know that the governmentís paralysis is due to hyper-partisanship, and that always polls really badly. Things have never been this partisan before.

    The most convincing story Iíve heard about the inaccuracy of the polling about the Wisconsin recall was that it missed the fact that voters didnít regard a middle-of-the-term recall as a valid exercise. If the pollsters had asked that question, they would have done better at predicting the result. The polling missed a key undercurrent of the situation. I have a feeling that there are undercurrents that are not being measured this time around too. One of them may be peopleís gut feelings about the Mormon Church. Iíve never seen that mentioned in a poll, for instance.