House Vulnerability Index, Version 3

With January coming to a close, silly season on retirements is hopefully also winding down, giving us a pretty clear picture of the open seats on tap for November. With that in mind, let’s do one last version of the House Vulnerability Index, accounting for the wave (wavelet? small whitecap?) of Democratic retirements.

In case you missed the previous installments, I’ve been developing an index for predicting vulnerability for House members based on a mix of Charlie Cook’s PVI and previous House election performance. (It turned out to be pretty useful, in that 2006 numbers were pretty predictive of who actually got knocked off in 2008.) Here’s a quick recap of how it works. Check out the chart of vulnerable Democrats below, which indicates that Bobby Bright is in the worst shape. Bobby Bright had the 3rd narrowest margin of victory of any Democrat (0.6%, behind only Tom Perriello at 0.2% and Scott Murphy at 0.4% in the NY-20 special), and he’s in the district with the 4th worst PVI of any Democrat (R+16, behind only Chet Edwards, Gene Taylor, and Walt Minnick). Add them up for a raw vulnerability score of 7, the worst of any Democrat. Slightly below him you might notice that LA-03 gets a margin of 0 (despite that Charlie Melancon won unopposed in 2008); that’s the tweak that I perform for all open seats. With PVI alone (R+12, 13th worst of any Dem-held seat), the raw score is 13, good for 3rd place.

You might remember that in November’s installment, I expanded the Democratic list to 50, reflecting the GOP’s success at expanding the playing field. Well, I’ve expanded it again this time, up to 75, not just to accommodate the new red open seats that previously weren’t on the list because their entrenched inhabitants had won against little or no opposition in 2008, but also to acknowledge that the danger zone is starting to seep up above 50. Again, not to say that actual losses will be above 50, just that there may be some potential losses up that high on the list. (Eagle-eyed observers will also notice that many of the numbers have shifted down 1 since the previous installment. That’s because I’m no longer counting AL-05 among Dem seats, thanks to Parker Griffith’s switch.)


District Rep. Margin
rating
PVI
rating
Total
AL-02 Bright 3 4 7
ID-01 Minnick 6 3 9
TN-06 Open 0 10 10
LA-03 Open 0 12 12
MD-01 Kratovil 5 11 16
AR-01 Open 0 21 21
TX-17 Edwards, C. 20 1 21
TN-08 Open 0 30 30
MS-01 Childers 27.5 7 34.5
VA-05 Perriello 1 37 38
NY-29 Massa 7 35 42
AR-02 Open 0 41 41
KS-03 Open 0 48 48
NY-20 Murphy, S. 2 52 54
VA-02 Nye 16.5 39 55.5
GA-08 Marshall 41 15 56
PA-10 Carney 37 19 56
PA-03 Dahlkemper 9 49 58
PA-04 Altmire 33 28 61
MI-07 Schauer 8 55 63
AZ-05 Mitchell 24 42 66
FL-08 Grayson 13 53 66
NM-02 Teague 35 33 68
TN-04 Davis, L. 60 9 69
NY-24 Arcuri 13 56 69
CO-04 Markey, B. 36 34 70
WA-03 Open 0 73 73
OH-16 Boccieri 29.5 47 76.5
AZ-01 Giffords 34 43 77
OH-15 Kilroy 4 74 78
NY-23 Owens 13 65 78
AZ-01 Kirkpatrick 48 31 79
ND-AL Pomeroy 66 14 80
OH-18 Space 58 23 81
IN-09 Hill 56 26 82
WI-08 Kagen 21 61 82
NJ-03 Adler 15 69 84
TX-23 Rodriguez 39 46 85
NC-08 Kissell 29.5 58 87.5
UT-02 Matheson 84 5 89
NH-01 Shea-Porter 19 71 90
CA-11 McNerney 27.5 63 90.5
FL-24 Kosmas 47 44 91
SC-05 Spratt 67 24 91
OH-01 Driehaus 16.5 77 93.5
FL-02 Boyd 64 32 96
NH-02 Open 0 96 96
NC-11 Shuler 69.5 27 96.5
PA-07 Open 0 98 98
FL-22 Klein 22 76 98
MO-04 Skelton 94.5 6 100.5
NV-03 Titus 18 83 101
NY-19 Hall 51 50 101
CO-03 Salazar 63 40 103
PA-17 Holden 74 29 103
MI-09 Peters 23 82 105
KY-06 Chandler 87.5 18 105.5
IL-14 Foster 44 62 106
IN-08 Ellsworth 87.5 20 107.5
PA-11 Kanjorski 10 101 111
PA-12 Murtha 45 68 113
TX-27 Ortiz 57 60 117
VA-11 Connolly 32 85 117
IA-03 Boswell 40 78 118
NY-01 Bishop, T. 49.5 70 119.5
NY-13 McMahon 75 45 120
SD-AL Herseth Sandlin 107 17 124
OR-05 Schrader 46 79 125
CT-04 Himes 11 114 125
PA-08 Murphy, P. 43 84 127
WV-03 Rahall 102.5 25 127.5
IL-08 Bean 61 67 128
NY-25 Maffei 38 90 128
IL-11 Halvorson 65 66 131
NM-01 Heinrich 31 108 139

As always, some of these names that are high up the list may not be in much danger: Scott Murphy and Jim Marshall, for instance, are still lacking first (or second-)tier opposition. And some of the higher-up names are, as we’ve seen, already in grave danger: Steve Driehaus and Dina Titus, up in the 40s, have seen some alarming polls. This is just a rough guide, looking at the various Reps. relative to one another.

Now let’s turn to the vulnerable GOP seats. The only change here is that PA-06 has become less vulnerable for the GOP, seeing as how Rep. Jim Gerlach came back to it. It doesn’t change much, though; given his lame performance in 2008, he’s still the (UPDATE: second) most vulnerable incumbent (although that’s largely by virtue of the Republicans having almost no other vulnerable incumbents). None of the other newly-minted GOP-held open seats comes even close to being interesting (CA-19 is closest, with a vulnerability index of 70).

You might be wondering where Parker Griffith is these days. Even if you bumped his margin rating down to 0 (since he’s basically starting from scratch), his R+12 district is #102 among Republicans, so he’s nowhere near this vulnerability list. (His vulnerability in the primary, of course, is a whole ‘nother matter, but I don’t purport to measure that.) You might also notice that I’ve shortened the list down to 10 here. Frankly, with a few possible exceptions (PA-15, MN-06), there’s really not much to see here beyond the top 10.


District Rep. Margin
rating
PVI
rating
Total
DE-AL Open 0 2 2
IL-10 Open 0 3 3
LA-02 Cao 5 1 6
PA-06 Gerlach 9 4 13
WA-08 Reichert 16 5 21
MI-11 McCotter 17 11 28
CA-50 Bilbray 11 23 34
MN-03 Paulsen 22 12 34
FL-12 Open 0 41 41
OH-12 Tiberi 34 8 42

40 thoughts on “House Vulnerability Index, Version 3”

  1. I still think Boswell will be ok, but Iowa Republicans think he is highly vulnerable. There are now 5 candidates in the GOP primary, perhaps soon to be 7 candidates.

  2. To me, it looks like 23 IF this is the order that they will be lost. I’m calling it between Teague (NM2) and L. Davis (TN-4). It could go further, such as I fully expect OH-15 with Kilroy to be lost.

    To get to 40 they would have to get past UT-2 and Matheson. There are too many above and including Matheson I do not see losing to make loss of the House a possibility. THen again there are 8 past UT-2 I could see going down.

    ARGH, just jump to Nov 2010, I’d like to know how bad it’s going to hurt.

  3. Something else to consider perhaps is length of incumbency… or maybe whether they represented the district before the Dem wave in 2006.  For instance, the likelihood of the Democrats losing at least 10 seats is pretty high.  Intrade.com currently has 10+ seats going down to be at 90 cents.  However, I would put the likelihood of Chet Edwards losing at about 30% simply because he won in 2004, which by any measure should have been the year he fell.  In fact, I would bet that Chet Edwards would be closer to the 45th or so seat the Republicans might pick up.

  4. Despite the fact that Twitter Pete Hoekstra (MI 2) has consistently run up big numbers in this district, it should, by your accounting, be rated as very vulnerable.  It has a +7 PVI and, by your system, a margin rating of 0 (for all open seats, no?).  Therefore, it’s total score is 7, making it the fourth most vulnerable R seat in your table.  The neighboring district, currently represented by Vern “I’m a scientist until the politics get in the way” Ehlers, is a very similar case, with Ehlers recent retirement announcement.  Watch these two races, as they share the Grand Rapids media market, have wildly competitive Republican primaries (full of tea partiers and other right wing loons), and solid D candidates.  The 2nd district candidate is Fred Johnson, who ran respectably in 2008, is a USMC veteran, and is well known and popular in Ottawa County, the Republican base.  D field for MI 3 currently forming, but some big local names certainly getting in.

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