A Southern Wave? Where are the targets?

So I’ve heard it posited here on SSP that 2010 will be a Republican wave in the South, with a stalemate in the rest of the country.  While I do think a Southern wave is coming for the Republicans, I do not think it is coming in 2010.  Rather, it will come over time as entrenched Southern Democrats like Gene Taylor, Allen Boyd, John Tanner, Lincoln Davis, Bart Gordon, etc. retire, leaving open seats.  There is no reason to believe that these types of entrenched incumbents are going to lose in significant numbers in 2010, nor is there reason so far to believe any of them are going to retire in 2010.  In fact, for 2010, it does not appear that there are a lot of juicy Southern targets for the Republicans.  

Here is the geographical distribution of the 2010 Frontline Democrats, along with the three competitive open seats (PA-07, NH-02, and LA-03):


CT-04 – Himes

MD-01 – Kratovil

NH-01 – Shea-Porter

NH-02 – OPEN

NJ-03 – Adler

NY-13 – McMahon

NY-20 – Murphy

NY-24 – Arcuri

NY-25 – Maffei

NY-29 – Massa

PA-03 – Dahlkemper

PA-07 – OPEN

PA-10 – Carney

SOUTH (11)

AL-02 – Bright

AL-05 – Griffith

FL-08 – Grayson

FL-24 – Kosmas

LA-03 – OPEN

MS-01 – Childers

NC-08 – Kissell

TX-23 – Rodriguez

VA-02 – Nye

VA-05 – Periello

VA-11 – Connolly


IL-11 – Halvorson

IL-14 – Foster

IN-09 – Hill

IA-03 – Boswell

MI-07 – Schauer

MI-09 – Peters

OH-01 – Driehaus

OH-15 – Kilroy

OH-16 – Boccieri

OH-18 – Space

WI-08 – Kagen

WEST (10)

AZ-01 – Kirkpatrick

AZ-05 – Mitchell

AZ-08 – Giffords

CA-11 – McNerney

CO-04 – Markey

ID-01 – Minnick

NV-03 – Titus

NM-01 – Heinrich

NM-02 – Teague

OR-05 – Schrader

The DCCC is not trying to protect entrenched incumbents in the South (even Chet Edwards amazingly).  Rather, the DCC believes that the seats it needs to defend are widespread, largely because the Dems’ recent gains have been widespread and therefore the least entrenched Dem congressmen are widespread.  In fact, the plurality of anticipated, competitive seats are in the Northeast, the Democratic sweet spot.  I think the DCCC is protecting the right incumbents, give or take.

While I could see as many as eight of the ten Southern, Frontline Democrats losing, plus the open seat in LA-03, that does not a wave make unless there are additional gains elsewhere.

In summary, for 2010, the least entrenched incumbents are scattered all over America.  Therefore, if there is a Republican wave, it will likely be scattered all over America, just like 1994.  I just do not see the opportunity for a Southern wave this time around.

54 thoughts on “A Southern Wave? Where are the targets?”

  1. can end up not being so.

    I would not be surprised for a second if Jim Marshall lost, for example.

  2. VA-2





    NC-2 (if Etheridge bolts to Senate)














  3. Before going off and claiming 2010 will be the same.  It won’t, and anyone whose claiming that long-time incumbents will get swept out are delusional.  1994 was a beatdown for the same reason as 2006 and 2008 were – it was not only a bad environment for one party, but there were also a ton of retirements and open seats.  So far, the number of open seats is very minimal and no one is dropping out due to fears of losing (the first sign things will go bad is that several incumbent members will retire rather than run a tough campaign and lose).  Team Blue did a great job of this in 2008 – many GOP incumbents faced close calls in 2006 or were getting old and retired when the DCCC recruited strong challengers.  Many of these “endangered” democrats didn’t face any real competition in 2008 and still aren’t facing tough challengers.  It takes a couple cycles to get people to consider voting for the opposite party when they’ve been going one direction for a few decades.  Same happened in 1994 – many incumbents faced tough fights in 1990 or 1992, and retired when faced with a rematch or long odds of re-election.  

    I buy that freshman and sophomore incumbents will face tough tests in 2010, and several could lose.  But I don’t see the dire warnings of many long-time incumbents like Boucher, Gordon, Snyder, or Ross getting swept out if they are still on the ballot (barring any ethical lapses or stupid mistakes).  They could be in trouble come 2012 or 2014 though if they face close calls this time around as that will make them far more vulnerable, and if they retire those seats are pretty much gone.  But please calm down before proclaiming the sky is falling.

  4. Nearly all the targets were hit and taken over by the republicans in 1994.

    Prior to 1994 Southern Democrats made up aboutone third of the Democratic party in terms of congress.

    Now that number has dropped to a little under a quarter. There’s barely anything left in the South for Republicans to win

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