Who Should We Defend?

If nothing else, this post is simply a reminder that the end of the fundraising quarter is later this week (Wednesday, the 30th). I’ve had this vague sense that there’s a lot less fundraising intensity among the netroots than compared to this point two years ago (although that turns out to be wrong, if you delve into the stats at ActBlue — we’re ahead of the 2008 pace in terms of both total number of dollars and especially number of contributions). But after the 30th, there’s only one more full fundraising quarter left.

That vague lack of intensity, though, may have its roots in the fact that playing defense just isn’t as glamorous… in 2006 and 2008, it was genuinely fun anticipating where all we might make gains and trying to allocate our resources accordingly. It’s not so much fun to figure which incumbents most need our money in order to survive… especially when so many of the most endangered incumbents were simultaneously also the ones least likely to vote the way the netroots would have wanted them to. And the netroots still seems to be playing the old 06-08 ballgame instead, still playing offense: focusing on primaries, and on challenges to Republican incumbents or open seats. Some of that is seen in ActBlue’s top 10 May recipients, none of whom are incumbents (although at least some were the more progressive option in primaries where we’re trying to hold a seat, like Joe Sestak or Ann McLane Kuster). And Daily Kos’s Orange to Blue list currently has only one incumbent on it, Alan Grayson.

No knock on Grayson, of course; as you can see below, he is the most progressive of all the incumbent Dems in the “Tossup” realm — although Carol Shea-Porter and Mary Jo Kilroy are certainly within the same range. However, I’d like for the netroots not to just put all its eggs in the Grayson basket (particularly when he can, if need be, refill that basket with his own personal cash). So, I’m posing the question to all of you, to answer in the comments: what other incumbents should we be defending?

Once we get past the other fairly obvious choices (Shea-Porter and Kilroy, again), it becomes an interesting philosophical question, one where your input would be valuable: is it better to start looking for progressives in the lower-tier races, where our money might come in valuable later? Or do we hold our noses and focus on shoring up some of the members who didn’t fare so well on the litmus test issues, knowing that we need to accept some (in fact, many) imperfect members in order to cobble together a majority?

In fact, it may be most interesting to approach this like putting together an investment portfolio. Say you have $100 to spend on contributions. How much do you allocate to the most endangered progressives? How much to the more valuable (or less heinous) New Dems and Blue Dogs? How much to progressives who aren’t quite as endangered? For that matter, how much to Blue-to-Blue open seat races? And how much to races where we’re still on the offensive? Within each category, which particular names stand out for you?

To help with your decision-making process, I’ve put together a couple tables that look at all of the Democrats’ vulnerable incumbents. The first is organized by column by just how vulnerable we at SSP have decided they are, and organized by row according to Progressive Punch scores, from best to worst. (Ordinarily I prefer DW-Nominate scores for this type of analysis, but Progressive Punch scores are much more intuitive to interpret; the order of Reps. in each column should be pretty similar regardless of which method you use.) (Also, you’ll note I’ve thrown several more Dems on the list — Bobby Etheridge and Allen Boyd — whom we haven’t formally added to the board yet but undoubtedly soon will.) Feel free to mention Senate races too, of course; I’m table-izing just the House races because a) there are so few Senate races involving vulnerable Dem incumbents that we actually like that it’s pretty easy to keep track of them, and b) House races are smaller-dollar affairs, so netroots dollars, if everyone pushes in the same direction, can actually make a difference in select races, whereas in pretty much any Senate general election, netroots dollars are a drop in the bucket that would go largely unnoticed.

Likely D Lean D Tossup
NJ-12 (Holt) 97.74

MO-03 (Carnahan) 95.73

WA-02 (Larsen) 95.56

OR-01 (Wu) 95.49

WV-03 (Rahall) 94.89

CA-47 (Sanchez) 94.68

GA-02 (Bishop) 94.23

CT-05 (Murphy) 94.11

CO-07 (Perlmutter) 93.60

OH-06 (Wilson) 93.16

FL-22 (Klein) 93.07

NC-02 (Etheridge) 92.29

CO-03 (Salazar) 91.84

NY-25 (Maffei) 91.67

OR-05 (Schrader) 91.15

CA-18 (Cardoza) 90.07

NC-08 (Kissell) 89.52

PA-17 (Holden) 89.16

FL-02 (Boyd) 88.69

MI-09 (Peters) 87.95

KY-06 (Chandler) 87.13

WI-03 (Kind) 85.17

GA-12 (Barrow) 83.94

NY-13 (McMahon) 83.33

IL-08 (Bean) 81.93

UT-02 (Matheson) 81.65

GA-08 (Marshall) 76.29

NC-11 (Shuler) 64.12

MS-04 (Taylor) 55.01
OH-13 (Sutton) 97.90

WI-08 (Kagen) 95.81

SC-05 (Spratt) 94.50

VA-11 (Connolly) 93.99

NY-01 (Bishop) 93.97

NY-19 (Hall) 93.96

TX-23 (Rodriguez) 93.64

IA-03 (Boswell) 93.57

PA-08 (Murphy) 92.31

ND-AL (Pomeroy) 92.17

NM-01 (Heinrich) 92.01

MN-01 (Walz) 91.45

TX-17 (Edwards) 91.29

VA-09 (Boucher) 90.79

MO-04 (Skelton) 88.00

MI-07 (Schauer) 87.93

CA-11 (McNerney) 87.61

CT-04 (Himes) 86.06

TN-04 (Davis) 86.02

OH-16 (Boccieri) 85.62

IL-11 (Halvorson) 85.37

PA-03 (Dahlkemper) 85.27

OH-18 (Space) 84.28

SD-AL (Herseth Sandlin) 83.07

IL-14 (Foster) 82.85

PA-10 (Carney) 80.04

NJ-03 (Adler) 79.10

AZ-08 (Giffords) 77.99

IN-02 (Donnelly) 74.66

PA-04 (Altmire) 74.02

NY-20 (Murphy) 73.44

AZ-01 (Kirkpatrick) 71.11

AZ-05 (Mitchell) 58.91

PA-12 (Critz) ?
FL-08 (Grayson) 95.72

OH-15 (Kilroy) 95.37

NH-01 (Shea-Porter) 94.97

PA-11 (Kanjorski) 94.00

NV-03 (Titus) 92.19

OH-01 (Driehaus) 86.71

CO-04 (Markey) 85.84

FL-24 (Kosmas) 82.91

NY-23 (Owens) 80.29

NY-24 (Arcuri) 79.22

VA-05 (Perriello) 78.58

NM-02 (Teague) 77.15

IN-09 (Hill) 70.96

VA-02 (Nye) 66.67

MD-01 (Kratovil) 64.97

MS-01 (Childers) 59.49

AL-02 (Bright) 41.57

ID-01 (Minnick) 40.28

Alternatively, here’s a version based around six key litmus test votes (stimulus package, 2009 budget, cap and trade, the 2009 and 2010 health care votes, and the Stupak Amendment); Reps. are ordered according to how many “bad votes” they took out of the six. Many people have their own personal line-in-the-sand legislatively, for which an aggregated score like Progressive Punch is too broad, so this may be more helpful for those who want to make their choices a la carte.

Likely D Lean D Tossup
CA-47 (Sanchez) 0

CO-07 (Perlmutter) 0

CT-05 (Murphy) 0

FL-22 (Klein) 0

IL-08 (Bean) 0

MI-09 (Peters) 0

MO-03 (Carnahan) 0

NJ-12 (Holt) 0

NY-25 (Maffei) 0

OR-01 (Wu) 0

OR-05 (Schrader) 0

WA-02 (Larsen) 0

WI-03 (Kind) 0

WV-03 (Rahall) 0

CA-18 (Cardoza) 1 (Stupak)

GA-02 (Bishop) 1 (Stupak)

NC-02 (Etheridge) 1 (Stupak)

CO-03 (Salazar) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

FL-02 (Boyd) 2 (Stim, HCR1)

NY-13 (McMahon) 2 (HCR1, HCR2)

OH-06 (Wilson) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

KY-06 (Chandler) 3 (HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

NC-08 (Kissell) 3 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2)

NC-11 (Shuler) 4 (Stim, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

PA-17 (Holden) 4 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

GA-08 (Marshall) 5 (Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

GA-12 (Barrow) 5 (Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

UT-02 (Matheson) 5 (Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

MS-04 (Taylor) 6 (Stim, Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)
AZ-08 (Giffords) 0

CA-11 (McNerney) 0

CT-04 (Himes) 0

IA-03 (Boswell) 0

IL-11 (Halvorson) 0

MI-07 (Schauer) 0

MN-01 (Walz) 0

NM-01 (Heinrich) 0

NY-01 (Bishop) 0

NY-19 (Hall) 0

OH-13 (Sutton) 0

PA-08 (Murphy) 0

PA-12 (Critz) 0

VA-11 (Connolly) 0

WI-08 (Kagen) 0

AZ-01 (Kirkpatrick) 1 (Cap)

NY-20 (Murphy) 1 (HCR1)

SC-05 (Spratt) 1 (Stupak)

AZ-05 (Mitchell) 2 (Budget, Cap)

IL-14 (Foster) 2 (Budget, Cap)

ND-AL (Pomeroy) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

NJ-03 (Adler) 2 (HCR1, HCR2)

OH-16 (Boccieri) 2 (HCR1, Stupak)

OH-18 (Space) 2 (HCR2, Stupak)

PA-03 (Dahlkemper) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

PA-10 (Carney) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

TX-23 (Rodriguez) 2 (Cap, Stupak)

VA-09 (Boucher) 2 (HCR1, HCR2)

IN-02 (Donnelly) 3 (Budget, Cap, Stupak)

MO-04 (Skelton) 3 (HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

SD-AL (Herseth Sandlin) 3 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2)

TX-17 (Edwards) 3 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2)

PA-04 (Altmire) 4 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

TN-04 (Davis) 4 (Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)
FL-08 (Grayson) 0

NH-01 (Shea-Porter) 0

NV-03 (Titus) 0

NY-23 (Owens) 0

OH-15 (Kilroy) 0

IN-09 (Hill) 1 (Stupak)

OH-01 (Driehaus) 1 (Stupak)

CO-04 (Markey) 2 (Budget, HCR1)

FL-24 (Kosmas) 2 (Budget, HCR1)

NY-24 (Arcuri) 2 (Cap, HCR2)

PA-11 (Kanjorski) 2 (Stim, Stupak)

VA-05 (Perriello) 2 (Budget, Stupak)

MD-01 (Kratovil) 4 (Stim, Budget, HCR1, HCR2)

NM-02 (Teague) 4 (Budget, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

VA-02 (Nye) 4 (Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2)

ID-01 (Minnick) 5 (Stim, Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2)

MS-01 (Childers) 5 (Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

AL-02 (Bright) 6 (Stim, Budget, Cap, HCR1, HCR2, Stupak)

There’s yet another way you might of approaching this question, one that’s a little more forgiving of Blue Dogs: that’s the PVI/Vote Index, which is a measure we’ve discussed the last few years. This posits that a Representative’s value is found in overperforming his or her district’s lean as much as possible, which tends to favor the Dems in the reddest-possible districts as well as diehard progressives in swing districts. In particular, that tends to favor Chet Edwards, who has an R+20 district but usually is a reliable vote as seen by his Progressive Punch score (granted, he voted “no” on three of the six litmus test items, but that’s still a substantial improvement over whatever else we might get in that district). The link here is to the 2008 numbers; I just crunched the 2009 numbers, which I’ll write up later in the week, but Edwards again is by far the greatest overperformer. Cold-blooded contributors who can be purely value-added and ignore litmus test votes might want to emphasize Edwards (and similar overperformers like Earl Pomeroy or John Spratt).

99 thoughts on “Who Should We Defend?”

  1. I don’t think HCR1 or the Budget are even worth including.

    More than the others, those two (Perriello in particular) stand out as symbols in DC of taking big risks in tossup seats. The stimulus, climate and HCR2 are the big ones to me. Markey and Perriello took those votes and are running campaigns that I feel secure in investing in. That’s more than I can say for any of the others.

  2. He’s not a blue dog and has that 70% McCain district. He did not announce his position on the HCR vote until the day of, signaling he was willing to vote for it if Pelosi did NOT have the votes. He was the dark horse candidate for Obama’s VP.

    Chet freakin’ Edwards gets my nom. Get him through 2010, give him a 55% GOP district he’ll fall in line.

    Other candidates I approve of and nominate: Periello, Markey (CO), Teague, Hill. All 5 of my candidates are voting like conservatives, mostly, but are showing signs that they are much more liberal than their voting records indicate and would vote as such if given safer districts. Also, this is a farm team list. All have the potential to move up the ranks in their state; ESPECIALLY Periello and Hill.

  3. Personally, I’m very cold blooded. I can hold my nose for almost anyone. But this cycle it still doesn’t help me. I suppose the fundamental question for me, is who has the most value for my dollar.

    I vacillate almost every day, on which way the Republican wave is coming from – places hurt especially by the downturn, tough opposing candidates, districts with high independents who are less “sticky” in their preferences, races the count on minority and young voter turnout. Since I don’t have endless resources (although if anyone is interested. ..), I have to bite the bullet on these questions.

    And of course, that most unpleasant question, who gets put on the ugly side of triage?

  4. The story from last cycle about when Van Hollen was telling the Dems at a caucus meeting that they really need people to pay their dues because we have an unprecedented number of seats up for grabs.  Chet Edwards apparently immediately stood up and wrote out a check for $100k and everyone gasped because he’s one of the most vulnerable of all incumbents and here he is writing fat checks from his own campaign account.

    Perriello, Markey, and Ive always really liked Titus.  Gotta love when political scientists become politicians instead of lawyers.

  5. He could have easily voted against HCR and cap and trade but he has put his career on the line to do what he thinks is best. Especially the cap and trade vote, that hurt a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying not to give Edwards, I already sent him twenty bucks but definitely consider Hill as well.  

  6. I don’t even know where to start.  For me, there are a few main concerns.  First of all, I don’t really go for conservadems in general, unless they’ve shown that they are making an effort to support the base agenda but sometimes can’t because their district is a hot mess of conservatism.  Voting record is pretty important for me.  The second thing is financial situation, I don’t really want to give money to those that can really pay their own way so much as those that are locked in tight financial situations and races.  

    The third is the PVI.  I think the swing districts, those between R+4 and D+2 in particular, are the real heavy hitters because you can have complete wingnuts or strong liberals in those seats in addition to centrists.  Thus, the center of the PVI scale is where you could have the widest swing in voting behavior, namely you could go from reps that will vote 6 for 6 on the big-ticket items to 0 for 6.  That’s where the majority of my money would go.  

    Let’s say that I’m going to spend $1000 on the House democratic caucus in November.  Without taking too much time right now, here’s a guess at I would spend it, with $100 being the most spent on any one representative.  One of these days I’ll come out with a formula for coming up with the dollar amounts and I’ll have a diary on it.

    $100 – Mary Kilroy, Tom Perriello

    $75 – Carol Shea-Porter, Bill Owens, Betsy Markey, Suzanne Kosmas

    $50 – Patrick Murphy, Steve Driehaus, Earl Pomeroy, Steve Kagen, John Boccieri, Dina Titus

    $25 – Chet Edwards, Paul Kanjorski, Leonard Boswell, Stephanie Herseth, Kathy Dahlkemper, Mark Schauer, Ciro Rodriguez, John Spratt

  7. I made contributions today, but stuck to the Senate:  Sestak and Conway.  The House is next.  

    The key point that everyone should know (and I expect all regular readers of this site do know)is DO NOT just give to the DCCC or DCCC.  Do as this post suggests:  (1) Pick races that matter (are close); (2) where there is a significant difference between the candidates; and (3) where you feel good about the Democrat (not a lesser of two evils).  

    One more thought:  What about challengers??  I’m thinking of Joe Garcia in FL-25.  

  8. the chances of surviving vs. what we can expect if they lose, I go with Perriello, Markey, Kagen, Schauer, and McNerney.  Honorable mention to Titus and Halvorson.

  9. with evaluating representatives like this is that there’s a lot more that goes into a vote than this.  I remember reading somewhere that when Sam Rayburn was Speaker and Dems won a huge majority in the House, Rayburn said something like “too many Democrats,” knowing that with a big majority Democratic members would feel free to depart from the party on major issues.

    One thing we have to keep in mind is that Democrats have had quite a large majority this cycle… effectively, we have 35 “free votes” on any particular bill that comes up, so a lot of the Democrats in tough districts have been getting “excused” from voting for certain bills — particularly bills that the Republicans are making a big stink about — because they don’t want Republicans to have an issue to throw in their face at election time.  That explains how somebody like Chet Edwards, who’s generally a reliable Democratic vote, has voted against us on three of the big votes.  Edwards has a very tough district; he knows this, and the Democratic leadership knows it.  So with 35 votes to spare, if Chet needs to insulate himself from charges that he’s too liberal, the leadership will let him vote the “wrong” way on a big issue.  As long as they still have the votes to pass the bill, it doesn’t really matter.

    Now, some of the Democrats on this list might be unpersuadable, but I think a lot of them would vote the “right” way more often if their votes were needed more often (i.e. if we had a narrow majority.)  That was part of the explanation for why there seemed to be so few moderate Republicans when they had control of the House; Republicans never had big majorities, so on most of the big issues almost everybody’s vote was needed.

  10. As I have told friends on both sides, PA-7, PA-11 and PA-8 are likely to be the most competitive.

  11. There are so many people who merit it for one reason or another. My “short list” would include Markey, Titus, Kosmas, Owens, Boucher, Hill, Perriello, Halvorson, Sutton, Shea-Porter and Foster – but obviously that’s not that short a list. Other points (beyond ideology and willingness to make tough votes) that would go into my personal rankings are an interest in keeping some a demographic mix in the caucus, both in terms of sex and geography.  

  12. Perriello and Minnick are my first two. Perriello because he’s going to be a great ally for us one day, and will probably run for the governor’s mansion (he worked with Joel Silberman, head of the Central PA Obama Campaign, on several organization projects in ’06). That, and having that seat is huge for us.

    Also huge for us is having a Democrat in Idaho. Minnick is the doggiest of blue dogs, but we need to entrench some Dems in the deep red states. Minnick wouldn’t get my vote for President, but hitting the GOP back in this state would hurt them right in the mouth. That…and we don’t need any tea baggers in Congress.

    When I have time to look over all the lists and think more, I’ll post a better listing. I, personally, gave money to Critz and Hanabusa, but I don’t think we have to worry about those seats.

  13. That vague lack of intensity, though, may have its roots in the fact that playing defense just isn’t as glamorous…

    Uh….then why don’t we play some g*ddamn offense, too? Actually, I hear it’s the best defense. Yes, incumbents need to be defended…. but they have so many institutional advantages over their opponents already…. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give to them, especially ones who’ve supported issues that are important to you.

    All I’m saying is that our focus on holding back a supposed Republican wave (it ain’t over til the fat lady votes, folks) is blinding us collectively to opportunities to force Republicans to defend their awful, awful record in the opposition. Republicans are the Party of No, but America is the Country of Yes. If we make them run on their record, on their insane plans, on their crazy Obama=Hitler rhetoric, they are going to have a rough time with swing voters. And maybe I’m just tired of being on the defensive.

    Plus, we’ve drummed up some darn good challengers in some little-mentioned races. So if I had $100, it would go to….

    $20 – Charlie Melancon (LA-Sen)

    $10 – Roxanne Conlin (IA-Sen)

    $10 – Tarryl Clark (MN-06)

    $10 – John Callahan (PA-15)

    $10 – Sean Tevis (KS-02)

    $10 – Tommy Sowers (MO-08)

    $10 – Ed Potosnak (NJ-07)

    $10 – Tom White (NE-02)

    $10 – Lori Edwards (FL-12)

  14. While I really like what Periello and Shea-Porter have done. I throw out that another metric to keep in mind that is near and dear to those of us on that frequent this site, redistricting. If I had $100 I’d consider spending 40 on Kilroy and 30 on Driehaus as I think that if we get them through this election they will likely get safer seats in 2012 (assuming Strickland holds on versus ubersleeze Kasich and we don’t lose too many seat on the redistricting board…I’m looking at your Brunner) as Ohio would likely resort to an incumbent protection plan. In that case OH-1 would likely pick up more liberal portions of OH-2 that are wasted in eastern Cincinnati and we could go back to the days when a Cincinnati based district was held by a dem (usually a Luken) and the more right leaning portions of OH-1, western Hamilton county go go to Boehner’s district where they’ll be happier anyways. I won’t go into the same detail, but if we get through this cycle Kilroy would probably be given a Columbus based district. Presently both cities are divided to neutralize strong democratic areas in the cities and I think we could have 2 reliable votes if this plays out (except for Driehaus and abortion of course). My last $30 would got Kratovil, who if we can get him through this cycle will almost assuredly be protected in a manner to one of the 7-1 plans we have seen so many times for MD. Other people that cross my mind and could end up in safer seats after redistricting include Markey (assuming Hickenlooper doesn’t get buckbagged), Halls/Murphy/Owens in NY, Boccieri/Space/Sutton in OH (I feel they are safer off than Kilroy and Driehaus). What do you all think?

  15. I am still inclined to be not too worried about Leonard Boswell, despite Brad Zaun’s internal poll showing him ahead of Boswell last week. If Zaun comes up with some big fundraising numbers at the end of the 2Q, it might be worth taking a look at IA-03.

    Boswell’s voting record has improved quite a bit in the last couple of years. In 2007 he was frequently among the Blue Dogs casting “bad votes.” Now he’s still a Blue Dog but rarely casting “bad votes.”

    On the other hand, he still has some bad instincts. I decided not to write the check I was planning to write to Boswell’s campaign after he urged the FCC to screw us all over on net neutrality.

  16. Both have taken tough votes (and in Murphy’s case, leadership roles) on controversial issues, and both young legislators represent the future of the party.

  17. With measures of quality (political courage), impact, and cost-effectiveness.

    In those three measures, I’d push to defend:

    Chet Edwards for his political courage

    Walt Minnick for the political impact of having someone blue from someplace so red (aka, for a meme that we’re a national party, the Rs are not)

    Earl Pomeroy because it’s more cost-effective to defend a seat in a state with cheaper media markets.

    On the other end, I’d push less to defend:

    Political wimps (e.g. Mike Arcuri)

    Blue dogs in consistently blue districts (do we have any at risk?)

    Those in more expensive markets, where there isn’t already someone good atop the ticket (i.e., while it’s somewhat cost-effective to defend the Philly suburban seats, due to Sestak, it’s less cost-effective to defend someone like Glenn Nye).

    In addition, I’d exclude self-funders from the list (e.g. Alan Grayson), as our resources are not infinite.  

  18. I think the six below would be good choices, due to their voting records, political courage, and statewide potential. Perriello is the only one in serious danger, but the others could be swept away if the tide is strong enough, and they would be big losses.

    Patrick Murphy

    Tom Perriello

    Steve Kagen

    Gabby Giffords

    Jerry McNerney

    John Hall

    If we’re going to focus on open seats, these seem to be the most critical to defend. Some of the other open seats are either lost causes or a Blue Dog is running.

    Bryan Lentz (PA-07)

    Julie Lassa (WI-07)


  19. One way (and certainly not the only way) to look at maximum impact for donations is to see if there’s a multiplier effect regarding other races. The organization America Votes has proposed four factors: a contested governor’s race, a contested Senate race, 25% or more House seats of the state in play, and state legislative control at stake in a redistricting year. Investing in a House race where statehouse seats are in play can help retain or flip a state legislative chamber, which may be determinative in drawing lines for congressional seats for the next 10 years of contests.

    On those factors, the states that deliver the most bang for the buck are Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Democrats control state House chambers by very narrow margins. Donating to Mary Jo Kilroy in OH-15 not only helps her (and with her exemplary voting record, she deserves it) in a district she won very narrowly, but also can drive turnout in several competitive state legislative districts. http://www.americavotes.org/no… I’ve been told that a similar situation on the offense side would be John Callahan in PA-15. And turnout benefits the upticket races too.

    Even for the non-coldblooded, there are plenty of House members in Ohio and PA with good voting records where donations could have a multiplier effect.

  20. My wife served on the Democratic National Committee and knew him better, but I used to have a drink now and again with Michael Harrington (the The Other America Michael Harrington).  

    He used to define his immediate target in elections as “the left wing of the possible.”  

    I have two thoughts:

    (1)  Isn’t all this hairsplitting about who’s in and who’s out a bit self-indulgent and destructive of progressivism advancement across a range of issues?  

    For example, in the heat of the moment I wanted Bill Halter to win.  

    But — given Blanche Lincoln’s 95% ADA rating — was the Halter thing really constructive?

    Why are we parsing Grayson v. Shea-Porter v. Kilroy and so forth?  

    Don’t they collectively amount to the best we can possibly do?

    Shouldn’t we be disgorging our money and our shoe leather to protect all of them and spread the field.

    (2)  For those of us in hard red parts of the world the “left wing of the possible” can rationalize almost anything.  

    So one must guard that it doesn’t.

  21. The DCCC has something like $15 million more cash-on-hand than the NRCC.  Meanwhile, the NRSC is, if I recall correctly, just about a million bucks ahead of the DSCC.  

    I don’t know why the DSCC is doing SO badly, but I do understand why Republican senators can raise money much more effectively than Republican House Leadership, even though the House is the chamber more likely to change hands this fall.  Republican Senators have real power now; Republican House Leadership has none.  

    Anyway, the fact that the DCCC can massively outspend the NRCC, paired with the fact that the DSCC is tied with the NRSC, means that money needs to go to Senate races more than it normally would.  Netroots money ain’t much, it’s true, but with the DSCC in a pinch, it may get noticed, and make an on-the-ground difference, nonetheless.

    Given that, I’ve been very surprised to see how little attention Hodes’ senate campaign has gotten in the netroots, given that he was one of our babies in 2006, and Gregg’s seat still counts as offense.  I thought fundraising for Conway would be stronger as well, given that he’s a solid progressive and his opponent is a well-publicized nightmare.

    I think I’ve talked myself into making donations to Conway and Hodes.  I donated to Markey, Perriello, and Halter last quarter, so I don’t feel bad stiffing the noble House candidates this time.  I may donate to Kilroy though, because I missed her the first time around and because of the multiplier-effect of donating to Ohio candidates.

  22. From the liberal perspective, there are several key criteria to consider:

    1) Do they need the money and could they just as easily get it from corporate contributors?

    Self-funders like Grayson may earn some support for having very good voting records, but they don’t need the money in the same way. Similarly, Blue Dogs should be able to rely on corporate contributions. If they’re going to vote against the party and in favour of their financial backers, they ought to gather their money accordingly. If they can’t, it suggests rank incompetence, and that’s not something we want to encourage.

    2) How useful is money going to be?

    Bobby Bright doesn’t need vast amounts of out-of-state contributions. It’s a cheap media market, retail politics works well there and it’s more important to have a good local campaign which can increase turnout in the black community and Bright strongholds. A raft of ActBlue contributions could even prove counter-productive.

    Bryan Lentz, on the other hand, is in the Philly media market and has to introduce himself to those bits of the district he doesn’t currently represent. He’ll need the ad money more.

    It’s also worth considering how long they’ll be around. People who can win resoundingly this year and then be safe for decades are good investments. Whilst it’s nice to have Bright and Edwards rather than dribblingly crazy Republicans, they’re never going to be better than an 80% shot in an off year. I’d say that makes them worse investments.

    3) Who is a future star?

    Candidates in trouble this year could, if they survive, go on to great things. They could become chairmen of influential committees or part of the House leadership. They could run for governor or senator. They could even become president one day.

    Those who are likely to ascend to these heights are that much more deserving of support. This is particularly the case with those who are able to use these positions of influence to produce a leftward shift in the discourse or in the politics of the area they represent.

    Thus where gubernatorial races are concerned Baron Hill is worth actively supporting, because he’d be probably the left-most governor you can get out of Indiana, whereas Heath Shuler, for example, wouldn’t be – we can do much better out of North Carolina.

    With senatorial candidates a similar calculus applies – it’d be great to have Perriello in the Senate, but could he get elected there yet or is Virginia still too red?

    With those staying in the House for the foreseeable future, I’d back the leftmost candidates – they’ll bring the greatest amount of transformative change when they hit leadership rank.

    4) What will shift the caucus most to the left?

    Right now, the Democratic caucus doesn’t resemble Democratic voters. It’s not diverse enough, it’s too conservative and it’s overwhelmingly made up of the winners in life, whereas I’ve always thought that the proper role of parties of the left is to stand up for those who got dealt a bad hand in life and haven’t been able to bluff their way into something better.

    So you need to support candidates who represent Democratic voters. More women and minorities. More low-paid workers. Fewer rich conservative southerners – which is not to say we shouldn’t support them, just that their elections are going to be less transformative than getting a young black lesbian elected.

    More than that, as a liberal you need to support people who will frame the Democratic Party as a fundamentally liberal party, without acquiescing to the various smears attached to the term. You need to create a greater party discipline, to support those who make tough votes and to punish those who sell out and foster ‘Democrats divided’ storylines. This is where open-seat races and (to a much lesser extent) primary challenges come in.

    5) Who is the easiest prey?

    Liberals in the Democratic Party aren’t organised, and therefore they aren’t feared. This fear needs to be inculcated, because if people don’t vote against your interests then you have to do a lot less attacking them and endangering their re-election chances than you do if they do vote against your interests.

    So I think there’s a case to be made for picking one struggling and fairly useless congresscritter who’s crossed you and gained no advantage from it, and throwing the bastard an anvil.

    It might, for example, make sense to organise a donation strike for Mike Arcuri, organise volunteers to canvass for Maffei instead, bad-mouth him to the press and generally try to make a 5-point defeat into a 15-point one by giving him no aid. Then you announce you could have led him to victory and this is what you get if you cross him.

    Meantime, you get his district dismembered in redistricting anyway and therefore lose nothing.

    That said, there are obvious downsides to this approach. If there’s a chance they can win, then you shouldn’t try to engineer their defeat. So doing this to Arcuri wouldn’t make sense now. But if we drop 5 points in the generic ballot, it’s worth a go.

  23. I go to University of North Texas. My friend who is a professor her in the PSCI department worked here for the year she taught here as well. I like Titus for that alone, but I feel like donating to her is wasting cash for some reason. I just see her as a wave loser this year for some reason.

  24. …I’d rank FL-25 as no. 5 for us in takeover targets.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose 40 seats and yet all 5 flip.  The takeovers shouldn’t be overlooked, they’re as likely to save the House for us as good defense.

  25. Beating Bachmann isnt likely but if there was one seat that flips for us and catches us all off guard it’ll be this one.

  26. I won’t invest in lost causes or safe candidates.

    I gave $500 to Perriello because he’s in my state, Virginia, and as noted he took tough votes in a tough district.  He’s also a good, honorable, honest man who doesn’t back down from a fight.  He’s a very good fundraiser with plenty banked, and he runs a great field campaign, which is critical anywhere but especially in his type of district.

    Perriello is one guy who I can see surviving even if we lose 45 seats.  There are always vulnerable incumbents who survive a hostile environment for peculiar local reasons, and Perriello has enough going for him to see him pulling out an upset win.

  27. Hill is one of three co-chairmen of the Blue Dogs.  As such, he’s responsible for weakening Democratic legislation before it even comes to a vote.  A prime example is with Health Care in the House, where Hill was a tiebreaking vote on a Blue Dog-dominated committee that bottled up the bill until Hill took all the teeth out of the public option.  I would rather have had him just vote against the bill, like Ellsworth did the first time, than actively take the lead in destroying it before it even comes to the floor.

    Hill’s voting record may look good, but I’d take a worse voting record in exchange for him just shutting up behind the scenes when these bills are being hashed out.  Walt Minnick is a better pick than Hill any time in my book.

  28. Hanabusa and Critz definitely need our money.

    As for teabaggers, wasn’t Minnick endorsed by the Tea Party Express? (not that I’m saying don’t support him.)

  29. Minnick, Edwards, Boucher, Nye, Boyd all are pro-choice in what are hostile districts.  That itself makes them worth keeping in my book.

    And as much I bashed Blanche Lincoln, I’d give her some dough if she became competitive for the same reason, she is pro-choice in a place which is not.

    My two biggest issues are being pro-labor and pro-choice.

  30. Curious what you top 5 is.  I assume Del-AL, LA-3 and IL-10.  After that, there is quite a jumble.  I would probably pick FL-25, and perhaps CA-03.    

  31. about Hill’s district is that it is very odd. Hill did not have the ability to do as Minnick or others did and just vote no and staying quiet about it. This is because Hill represents heavily liberal Bloomington and also heavily conservative voters in other areas, he has to get a high number of voters out in Bloomington this year and many would not have shown up for him had he voted against HCR, and this year all depends about Bloomington turnout. However while he must keep the liberals happy in Bloomington he can not just bomb in every other part of the district, no he has to do well in other more conservative areas as well. So essentially he is screwed if he does, screwed if he doesn’t. Now to what you are saying. First off have you ever heard the saying blue dogs bark but do not bite, well that was what Hill did. He barked in front of a lot of cameras so it did not look like he falling in line so he could get some cred with constituents outside Bloomington yet voted for the bill to keep credibility with those in Bloomington. I do not think you can single handedly blame Hill for what Ross and others did, he was fairly low key of the three, I think he was just there for the press quite honestly. If you have proof that Hill single handedly broke the public option I would like to hear it. Also Ellsworth and other dogs made the same request as Hill yet they voted against it. Hill made some blue doggish request but he actually followed through and voted on the bill unlike many other dogs. Hill is my Congressman and I have deep respect for him on a personal and political level, he has great constituent services, and he is a great Congressman and I will not stop donating to him and I would hope everyone here would consider giving him some money as well.  

  32. Hill may be somewhat to blame for helping to water down HCR (although personally I think there’s a heck of a lot of other parties at fault before Hill), but not only was Hill a reliable vote for it in the end, but he’s not running away from that vote either.

    Hill could have tried to pull an Arcuri-lite and try to avoid talking about his HCR vote. He’s not. He’s campaigning on it. Frankly, it’s kind of a nice change after the campaigns against Sodrel, which often just boiled down to “I’m a conservative Democrat, and my opponent is a rich jerk who is rich.”  

  33. And I’m not even voting for him after the stunts he pulled on HCR.

    I see what you’re saying, but Hill runs the Blue Dogs, and he’s responsible for their policies and behavior, just as Nancy Pelosi’s responsible for the Democratic Congress.  The buck stops with Hill.  He’s responsible for what over fifty congressmen do — enough to make the difference on any bill in Congress — and I’m not going to cut him the slack I’d cut for a backbencher.  I know what the district is like outside Bloomington, but as an active leftist in the town I’d be much more willing for vote for him if he acted like Ellsworth does.  He has to kowtow to those people, but he doesn’t have to lead fifty other congressmmen to do the same just because he’s worried about his own right flank.

  34. He’s as competitive as you can get, as got as you’ll get, runs as good of campaigns as you can get and you get the most out of your money on him because of all of that.

    If I could legally donate to anyone Tom would be #1 on my list of candidates.

  35. climate/carbon/energy and keeping Republican/right-wing craziness in check.

    On that first front, I am considering endorsing Michael Allegretti not because he might win (it’s damn unlikely anyway) but to send a message to Mike McMahon.  Apart from that, I’m mostly straight-ticket Democratic as I’m mostly a team player.  Only other possible exceptions are Lincoln Chafee (whom I already have endorsed) and Charlie Crist (whom I’m likely to endorse the way things are going).

    As for the second issue, this means both dealing with upcoming and incumbent crazies, such as Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and Jim Inhofe, as well as holding deep red districts with Democrats (as long as they don’t join in the crazy).

  36. I see where you are coming from, I really do. If I had my choice in representation I would have Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold as my Senators and well there are about thirty progressive congress critters I would love to have. I support single payer and was not completely satisfied with what we got, no one really was. However I obviously think you are making a mistake. Hill’s offense is he is really that he voted for the bill, that is essentially what you are telling me. Because Ellsworth and all of the others who did not have the courage to vote on the bill demanded the same demands Hill made but they did not vote for it and Hill did, so I do not know why you would prefer them over Hill, that makes no sense. I live in Harrison County and Hill has to represent the conservative areas as well, not just Bloomington and he did what he thought was best. Was it? I really do not know. However I do know that he is not as bad as you describe. He does not run the blue dogs, he has a leadership role, yes but he definitely does not run them. What was he supposed to do? Say screw you to all of the dogs. What would that have done, they are not going to listen to him. They are there own people who care only about themselves. He could not stop them, please offer one piece of evidence besides Hill’s role in being a “leader” that he made HCR any more conservative. Please if you do not vote for Hill at least vote indy or something, do you really want to vote for Todd Freaking Young?  

  37. He’s got his own constituency to worry about, as do the other blue dogs, and you know how hard it is to herd Democrats in any case.

  38. by voting for Travis Hankins in the GOP primary (heh).  In the general I’m voting Libertarian.  I don’t want to hurt him any more than I have to, but I can’t bring myself to vote for a Blue Dog leader.

    His being a leader is everything to me.  I voted for him last time knowing full well what his voting record was — I figured he’d be better than Sodrel at least.  I think he owes it to his progressive constituents not to go on TV and trash Democratic bills as the leader of a group that wants to undermine progressive policies.  I would probably vote for him if he were a quiet backbencher Blue Dog like he used to be, but I can’t countenance his choosing to be a leader of that group.

    I do get where you’re coming from — he’s the best we’re going to get in IN-09.  I respect that position very much.

  39. off he was in his “leadership” role last Congress and he has been for quite some time if I am correct. I personally think his leadership role is pretty much de facto. Do you want to know where I am coming from? My mother has an illness that could take her life if it goes untreated. Thank god she has health care.  Health care that she pays an arm and a leg for but health care all the same. If she did not have health care she would have died years ago, I am fairly sure of this. So I am very much in favor of HCR. I try to be optimistic when making my predictions but truth be told my gut is telling me Hill loses. I want to think different, but I have a strong feeling he will lose, and it could be a big loss, I do not know. He is not facing this tough election because of people like you, no he is facing it because of people who think he is too far to the left and are pissed about HCR and cap and trade and I do not see why you are not a little more grateful for this. I do know that Baron Hill would being having a cake walk right now had he voted against HCR and Cap and Trade. No matter what you think of him personally I think we can agree Hill is not stupid. He knew that would be vulnerable if he supported these things, and he could have easily said no, said I want to run statewide in the future, I can’t risk it. But no, he put people above politics and voted his heart and because of it my mother and millions like her can get affordable health care and people like my mother do not have to be labeled for death because of their illness, so excuse me if I do not buy into your purism BS. I almost took out that last sentence because it is very harsh, but it is honestly the way I feel so I will not delete it.  

  40. incumbent protection plan seems likely. Even if Strickland loses, from what I know we are likely to hold the Ohio house. the redistricting board only affects state legislative districts, not US house districts.

  41. …I have Cao’s seat; Delaware; Djou’s seat; IL-10; and FL-25.  I’ll be stunned if we win any other Republican-held seat.

  42. I doubt McMahon reads this website…unless you live in his district and plan on voting against him to rebuke him.

  43. because 2 seats will have to be eliminated.

    I hate gerrymandering for the purpose of incumbent protection, it is even worse than partisan gerrymandering.

  44. But it is also un-gerrymandering and giving the Democrats what should be ours anyway, a solid D seat in Cincinatti and Columbus.

  45. apologize, I wrote that kind of late and was a bit blah and I came off as a drama queen of sorts. I understand your dissatisfaction but I obviously disagree with the way you view the situation. However we can agree to disagree.  

  46. When on earth did this place get so anti-gerrymandering?  Ive seen so many comments lately on “fair redistricting” and anti-gerrymandering, anti-incumbent protection, pro-more swing districts, etc. and not that you cant have your own opinion but it’s weird because a year and a half ago, Id only see the opposite here.

    It’s kind of like there is a wave after every cycle of people who disappear and join us.  2010’s doesnt like the art of gerrymandering.  :(

  47. The people of Cincinnati are better served by having the entire city dominate one Congressional district. There are enough Democrats in SW Ohio to deserve a Democratic Congressman.

  48. if it is for the purpose of increasing the number of competitive districts.  For example, I’d have no problem if a portion of the city and suburbs were connected by a thin line, if the district were competitive.

    Incumbents, however, have enough advantages.  I’m not interested in giving them one more.

  49. at least, by the number of times people here play with Dave’s Redistricting App.

    On the other hand, I’m in favor of truly non-partisan redistricting, and in the absence of that, I’ve even voiced my preference for straight-line redistricting.

  50. But if he writes a book or something, I’ll buy it in a heart beat.  Not sure if he’ll the most intelligent things to say or inspiring for that matter, but I cant help but secretly love him and I’ll support him in other ways.

  51. And might I suggest New Hampshire too for the same reason.  The senate race (Hodes) and Shea-Porter‘s house race complement each other.  

  52. First, I’d broaden the category from “self-funders” to “people who don’t need my money.”  That would include anyone who is such a dynamite fundraiser that they have many millions banked and the marginal benefit of my extra few bucks doesn’t is trivial.

    Second, I’d still give in that situation if the Republican opponent was so odious as to be a danger to the country’s well-being.  That would be if, say, you’re talking about the likes of Steve King or Michele Bachmann.  Of course, these people matter a lot less in the House than in the Senate.  And along those lines, I gave Harry Reid $250 the day after Angle won the primary, a decision I never would have made even just a month earlier for a guy who already had over $9 million banked and the ability to raise gobs more.  But Angle is truly dangerous, and it’s money I feel good giving.

  53. Just that I am working with some climate/carbon people and they personally told me about Allegretti.

  54. Lean D, no.  You can’t get more than a 51-52% Obama district out of Dayton without veering a tentacle into either Cincinnati or Columbus.  Montgomery County leans democratic and Clark County is somewhat swingish, but the rest of the surrounding area is REPUBLICAN, we’re talking McCain 40%+ wins in some of the counties down there.

  55. If it’s so fair shouldn’t it include more of Cincinnati instead of reaching up into uber-Republican Butler County?

  56. and one of those districts is held by a Democrat and another was won by Obama.  Sounds fair to me.

  57. none were won by Kerry even though he won by something like 9-10 points in a county big enough for its own congressional district…

  58. it is a pretty competitive district and gave Obama some 55% of the vote.  I think it is a very fair district that can be won by either party.  

    There are unfair districts in Ohio, such as the Dayton based one, that is an egregious gerrymander.  But OH-1, OH-12, and OH-15 are quite fair IMO.

  59. by limiting itself to Hamilton County, which was a Bush-Obama county. The only reason it goes into Butler County is because it was intended to elect a Republican. Steve Driehaus won not because the district is fair but because the Obama turnout surge caused the Ohio Republican dummymander to implode.

  60. I’m pretty sure that when we have this discussion 10 years later, it will be the GOP arguing for one Columbus district and the Democrats who want to split Columbus into two to protect two Democrats.

    It is similar to what happened in Rochester, NY.  For years, the GOP split it into two to ensure two GOP districts, while the Dems wanted to put Rochester into one.  In 2011, the Democrats will split Rochester into two to protect two Democrats.

  61. and then you can fairly accuse the Dems of gerrymandering, but for now it’s not fair to say that OH has fair districts. It’s a Republican gerrymander (or rather dummymander seeing as how the Dems have the majority in the delegation).

  62. Perhaps the basic “Emerging Democratic Majority” model is enough to support what you say. (I tend to believe it.)

    If there’s something specific that you know about the Columbus area, I’d appreciate more info.  

  63. Perhaps the Butler Co portions should be replaced not with more of Cincinnati, but the red areas of Hamilton County.

  64. but splitting Columbus in 2011 would result in a fair map.  It is hard to argue today that OH-12 and OH-15 are not fair and competitive districts, and the map in 2011 should look fairly similar.

  65. count as a community of interest?

    I don’t think adding more of Republican Hamilton County would be fair either, I was just using the Butler County thing to show how it was obvious they were trying to make it a Republican district, whereas in, say, Michigan, the Republicans can at least pretend that they care about compactness.

  66. not about compactness or incumbency protection.  The GOP can do blatant gerrymandering by using the former.

    My goal with any map would be as many competitive districts as possible.  Obviously in a state like California, there would be more safe D districts and many of the competitive districts may have a D lean.  And reverse in a state like Texas.  

    I think the partisan composition of OH-1 is very fair.  In fact, I think it should be made a point or two more Republican in 2011.

  67. it took a strong Democratic recruit, probably the best possible one, and historic minority turnout just to narrowly get that seat into Democratic hands. 2006 and 2008 were years when we won seats that were not only competitive but flat-out Republican leaning. If Chabot wins OH-01 as seems to be expected and the district isn’t significantly modified, it won’t be competitive in a neutral year.

  68. I don’t think there should be competitive districts just because. I see the argument, but it’s impractical in several instances. Just as sapelcovits mentioned, it’s completely unfair to constituents in Cincinnati to have someone represent their district who only won because of the attachment of an extremely conservative suburban area. Communities of interest matter.

    A good example is Minnesota, where all the districts are constructed in geographically-sound ways, except for Michele Bachmann’s, which is a compilation of urban-suburban-exurban area that was left over from the other districts. Now, this area is pretty conservative, which is reflected by Bachmann’s victories. This district is only competitive because of a polarizing incumbent, but any generic Republican should win it. Does that mean that the MN legislature should tether it to Minneapolis to make it more competitive? It would break up communities of interest, and the district would have a hard time finding a representative would can effectively balance liberal voters in Minneapolis and heavily conservative voters in the exurban part of the Twin Cities. Btw, I highly recommend Andrew’s analysis of the district.

  69. These are valid points you raise.  I do recognize that I’m a purist, and I try to keep my anti-Democratic Party views off this site as much as possible (kind of like GOPVOTER).  I’m very sorry to hear about your mother, and I’m glad that HCR will be helpful to her.

  70. Had the incumbent been weaker, the Dems would have a better chance against him in a year that is not 2008.  Chabot is about as strong as say Chet Edwards, and might have even held a 60% Obama district in an average year.

  71. i.e. John Cranley, a well funded Cincinnati councilman, in a district that was 55% for Obama.  He also had a close call against the Cincinnati mayor in 1998 when the district was more Democratic than it is today.  That suggests he is a strong incumbent.

    Chabot is quite similar to Jim Gerlach, IMO.  A very good politician, for which it will take a great candidate and a to beat.  

    Bottom line, this is a very fair district that slightly leans Democratic but either party can win.  It remained GOP from 1994-2008 because of Chabot’s political skills.  A district that was purely Cincinnati and some nearby suburbs that were Democratic would be a Dem gerrymander.  And that would not be a fair district, IMO.

  72. On the theory that Hodes is less likely to be forgotten by the Big DC Fundraising Network than Kuster is.  He may be a challenger for the Senate, but he’s an incumbent in the House, and I decided he’ll have an easier time fundraising than Kuster will.  And since a donation to either helps the other anyway, might as well go for the one DC is more likely to ignore.

  73. what’s so unfair about having a district limited to Hamilton County. The Hamilton County portion of OH-01 is swingy in and of itself. The city of Cincinnati is definitely its own community of interest and there’s no reason for that piece of Butler County to be there except to bail out the Republican candidate if he lost the Hamilton County portion.

  74. with more Hamilton Co suburbs is fine.  Replacing it with heavily Dem precincts in Cincinnati is not, as it will result in a district that is nearly 60% Obama, and that is not a competitive district but a partisan Democratic one.

    Perhaps Butler shouldn’t be in the district, but unless you can attach some heavily GOP areas in Hamilton county to Cincy, you are going to get a district that will be a safe Democratic district, regardless of the circumstances.  And I find that objectionable.

  75. and the data, the Butler portion cast just 12K votes out of 300K, or 4% of the district vote.  It is almost irrelevant to the district.  Also it appears that OH-1 already contains all of Cincinnati.  So you could easily add some GOP suburbs in Hamilton Co to replace the Butler portion.  

  76. votes 2-1 or even 3-1 Republican. I don’t know the Hamilton County suburbs that well but I can’t imagine that whatever the Republicans would have added would be as Republican as Butler County. (btw, a decent chunk of Cincy is in OH-02, which is part of why the Dems get so close to Jean Schmidt, the other being that she just sucks. This is a good example of cracking, although not as good as Columbus.)  

  77. The state is currently represented by two Democrats in the Senate, so I don’t see why Periello wouldn’t have a chance of winning a Senate seat there.

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