The battle for the House in this "sixth-year itch" election has proven especially volatile. As the Crystal Ball outlined at the outset of August, the vast majority of campaign developments that have taken place this summer have boosted Democratic fortunes. And in the absence of a truly major rally-around-the-flag intervening event, that unidirectional movement shows no signs of reversing course: every news day that goes by gives us more and more confidence that Republican losses in the lower chamber will number in the teens.Sabato sees 40 races is play with the Democrats needing to pick up 15 to take control.
But where in the teens? Greater or lesser than that tipping point of control, that magic number, 15? That is, of course, the question keeping both GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert and would-be speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) up at night. Although it's possible that voters could shock everyone and give the Democrats only a small gain--or a gain of several dozen--it's more likely that the 110th Congress will feature some of the smallest congressional majorities in the nation's history. One side or the other will be heartbroken to be on the short end of the stick, as a handful of votes in fewer than ten districts will almost certainly decide whose hands hold the gavels in the post-2006 House. What better reason for those voters to take the time to cast ballots in these critical midterm races!
With the crest of a pro-Democratic wave in view and the nation embroiled in a foreign war, the stakes for each party this November are higher than ever. Republicans know the end of a congressional majority would accelerate the Bush administration's descent into a lame duck lagoon and stymie the party's ability to pass any major item on its agenda. Meanwhile, Democrats know that they will likely have no greater opportunity than 2006 to capitalize on the opposition's unpopularity and make major gains this decade. Unlike the exceptions to the rule that were the past two midterm elections of 1998 and 2002, we are in the midst of the sixth year itch, and all the marbles are on the line.
Arizona 05 Republican Leans Republican Read moreSo where does that leaves us?
Arizona 08 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
Colorado 07 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
Connecticut 02 Republican Toss-up
Connecticut 04 Republican Toss-up
Connecticut 05 Republican Leans Republican
Florida 13 Republican (OPEN) Leans Republican
Florida 22 Republican Toss-up
Georgia 08 Democratic Leans Democratic
Georgia 12 Democratic Leans Democratic
Illinois 06 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
Illinois 08 Democratic Toss-up
Indiana 02 Republican Leans Republican
Indiana 08 Republican Toss-up
Indiana 09 Republican Toss-up
Iowa 01 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
Iowa 03 Democratic Leans Democratic
Kentucky 04 Republican Toss-up
Louisiana 03 Democratic Leans Democratic
Minnesota 06 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
New Mexico 01 Republican Toss-up
New York 20 Republican Leans Republican
New York 24 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
North Carolina 11 Republican Leans Republican
Ohio 01 Republican Leans Republican
Ohio 06 Democratic (OPEN) Leans Democratic
Ohio 15 Republican Leans Republican
Ohio 18 Republican (OPEN) Toss-up
Pennsylvania 06 Republican Leans Democratic
Pennsylvania 07 Republican Leans Republican
Pennsylvania 08 Republican Leans Republican
Pennsylvania 10 Republican Leans Republican
Texas 17 Democratic Leans Democratic
Texas 22 Republican (OPEN) Leans Democratic
Texas 23 Republican Leans Republican
Vermont AL Independent (OPEN) Leans Democratic
Virginia 02 Republican Toss-up
Washington 08 Republican Leans Republican
West Virginia 01 Democratic Leans Democratic
Wisconsin 08 Republican (OPEN) Leans Republican
Where does the "Ferocious Forty" leave us? Well, for starters, 31 out of 40 are currently held by the GOP, which means Democrats would need only to win 24 of the 40 to seize control of the House--a much easier feat than previously estimated.
The chart can help us estimate which scenario might play out on Election Day. First, let's assume that in a Democratic "wave" on November 7th, Democrats pick up the two GOP seats currently "leaning" to them (Texas 22nd and Pennsylvania 6th) and hold onto all of their own "leaners." Next, they pick up exactly three quarters of the tossups (an eleven seat net gain not implausible in a pro-Democratic year) and pick off just one of the GOP-held "leaners" (a somewhat conservative estimate). If this were to occur, Democrats and Republicans would be tied at 217 seats each, with potentially one additional Republican-held seat in an intriguing special circumstance
Now even the possibility of a Democratic majority in the house must make Bush and Rove quake with fear. Real investigations could result in Rove going to jail and Bush being impeached. So they need an October surprise. For an idea of what that surprise might be all we have to do is take a quick trip over to memeorandum this morning at look at the stories.