SSP’s Competitive House Race Ratings: Initial Ratings for 2010

The Swing State Project is pleased to announce our first set of House race ratings for the 2010 election cycle:

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
CA-18 (Cardoza)

CA-47 (Sanchez)

CO-03 (Salazar)

CO-07 (Perlmutter)

CT-05 (Murphy)


FL-22 (Klein)

GA-02 (Bishop)

GA-08 (Marshall)

GA-12 (Barrow)

IL-08 (Bean)

KY-06 (Chandler)

LA-02 (Cao)

MI-09 (Peters)

MO-03 (Carnahan)

MS-04 (Taylor)

NC-08 (Kissell)

NC-11 (Shuler)

NJ-12 (Holt)

NY-13 (McMahon)

NY-25 (Maffei)

OH-06 (Wilson)

OR-01 (Wu)

OR-05 (Schrader)

PA-17 (Holden)

RI-01 (OPEN)

UT-02 (Matheson)

WA-02 (Larsen)

WI-03 (Kind)

WI-07 (Obey)

WV-03 (Rahall)
AZ-01 (Kirkpatrick)

AZ-05 (Mitchell)

AZ-08 (Giffords)

CA-11 (McNerney)

CT-04 (Himes)

HI-01 (OPEN)

IA-03 (Boswell)

IL-11 (Halvorson)

IL-14 (Foster)

IN-02 (Donnelly)

MA-10 (OPEN)

MI-07 (Schauer)

MN-01 (Walz)

MO-04 (Skelton)

ND-AL (Pomeroy)

NJ-03 (Adler)

NM-01 (Heinrich)

NY-01 (Bishop)

NY-19 (Hall)

NY-20 (Murphy)

OH-13 (Sutton)

OH-16 (Boccieri)

OH-18 (Space)

PA-03 (Dahlkemper)

PA-04 (Altmire)

PA-08 (Murphy)

PA-10 (Carney)

PA-12 (OPEN)

SC-05 (Spratt)

SD-AL (Herseth Sandlin)

TN-04 (Davis)

TX-17 (Edwards)

TX-23 (Rodriguez)

VA-09 (Boucher)

VA-11 (Connolly)

WI-08 (Kagen)
AL-02 (Bright)

AR-01 (OPEN)

AR-02 (OPEN)

CO-04 (Markey)

FL-08 (Grayson)

FL-24 (Kosmas)

ID-01 (Minnick)

IL-10 (OPEN)

IN-08 (OPEN)

IN-09 (Hill)

MD-01 (Kratovil)

MS-01 (Childers)

NH-01 (Shea-Porter)

NH-02 (OPEN)

NM-02 (Teague)

NV-03 (Titus)

NY-23 (Owens)

NY-24 (Arcuri)

NY-29 (OPEN)

OH-01 (Driehaus)

OH-15 (Kilroy)

PA-07 (OPEN)

PA-11 (Kanjorski)

TN-08 (OPEN)

VA-02 (Nye)

VA-05 (Perriello)

WA-03 (OPEN)

WV-01 (Mollohan)
KS-03 (OPEN)

PA-06 (Gerlach)

PA-15 (Dent)
AL-05 (Griffith)

AZ-03 (OPEN)

CA-03 (Lungren)

CA-44 (Calvert)

CA-45 (Bono Mack)

FL-12 (OPEN)

FL-25 (OPEN)

KS-04 (OPEN)

LA-03 (OPEN)

MN-06 (Bachmann)

NE-02 (Terry)

OH-12 (Tiberi)

SC-02 (Wilson)

TN-06 (OPEN)

WA-08 (Reichert)
29 D, 2 R 36 D 27 D, 1 R 1 D, 2 R 2 D, 13 R

You can also check out our House Vulnerability Index. We welcome your thoughts in comments.

169 thoughts on “SSP’s Competitive House Race Ratings: Initial Ratings for 2010”

  1. Here would be my changes:

    1. I don’t think calling AL-02 a toss-up is accurate given that there is at least one poll showing Bright with a massive lead over all Republicans running. Things can change, but that alone should give Bright a Leans Democratic ranking.

    2. Considering the clusterfuck that is the New York Republican party, the fact that Hoffman and the Conservatives want to make life miserable for the Republicans, the fact that Owens will probably get the Independence ballot, and that Andrew Cuomo will have strong coattails; I’d be more inclined to call this race Leans Democratic (though I’d note that you’re call about Arcuri is probably right and might even be slightly generous).

    3. I’d probably move the open NY-29 seat to Leans Republican, based on the superior bench the Republicans have in the district. Although considering the other two races that took place last year, I can’t say that your view is unreasonable.

    4. I’d also probably move WV-01 and TN-08 to Leans Democratic based on being an entrenched and relatively noncontroversial incumbent (Mollohan) and the strength of the candidate we got to run for the open seat (Herron) (although I concede that if it’s a bad year, this is the type of seat that we shouldn’t take for granted).

  2. That the rankings has IL10 a toss up when polls seem to have a solid Lean D for Seals. I am also shocked that Terry in NE2 is all the way at likely R territory when the Mayor of Omaha should make this no better than a Lean R.

  3. I know we don’t have top-tier challengers here but Sessions and McCaul have had trouble breaking 60% against weak opponents. And this is just me but I would move CA-03 to Lean R since it’s even more Democratic than those Texas districts and Ami Bera is a pretty good candidate.

  4. The tossup column is terrifying. I agree that it seems more fitting to put Mollohan and Bright in the lean D column.

    I don’t know if makes sense on paper, but I would put Tom Perriello in the lean D column as well based solely on his skill as a candidate and politician. He’s got some phenomenal chops, he works his butt off, and because of the proximity to DC he is in the district all the time.  

  5. I’d go with NY-29 and PA-12 as tossups at best.  There aren’t sufficiently impressive Republicans running, but that might not actually matter.

  6. putting LA-02 so far to the left, without some evidence of polling.

    Does Cao have good constituent services?  That matters a lot.  Plus, LA as been moving steadily rightward.

  7. ref http://www.electionprojection….

    Filing day has come and gone in Arkansas, and none of the several top GOP prospects will be running for this open seat to be vacated by 7-term Congressman Marion Berry.

    i.e., all Rs have in that district is ‘some dude,’ so I think that district can be moved to “lean D”.

  8. TN-06, do we? And Tennessee’s filing deadline is tomorrow.

    BTW-Alabama’s on Friday deadline will be the half-way mark.

    It sorta sucks that we don’t get any state primaries until May 4th other than the Texas runoff (36 primaries, with only 2 being pretty significant).

  9. I’m not sure putting AL-05 all the way at Likely R is appropriate. Lean R, maybe, though honestly I’d put it at Tossup.

    That’s a messed-up district this cycle with the Parker Griffith partyswitch. The Republicans are tearing each other apart and we seem to have some decent candidates on our side, include Taze “Me Bro” Shepard.  

    I’d probably also put NE-2 in Lean R, not Likely. And in MI-07, Schauer I’d put into Tossup. But these are all minor quibbles…hooray for charts!

  10. we would only lose 95 seats.  Republicans would still be just slightly short of the veto-proof majority required to repeal HCR.  Hooray!  We can’t lose!

    “Always look on the bright side of life.” – chorus sung by crucified convicts at the end of Monty Python’s Life of Brian.  

  11. The economy is steadily improving, health care fears will subside when the world doesn’t come to an end, and people still hate Republicans.  Just in the first column alone, I would classify as safe CA-47, CO-7, GA-2, KY-6, MO-3, MS-4, NC-11, OR-1, PA-17, WI-3, WI-7, and WV-3.

  12. Is this for real or exaggerated? How did we get here compared to this time last year? If this is real, then we are in deep shit for Nov. I mean, 27 Toss-ups? IIRC from ’06 and ’08, 70% of toss ups, 20% of Likely and 10% others changed hands. If that happens w/ the above, the House is lost already. Did you check to see the type of GOP candidates in these seats..cos if they are teh suck, then that we are in much better shape than this horrifying list.

  13. as Likely GOP.

    I know, I’m a broken record on this race, but with Hayhurst beating Souder in fundraising, plus Souder facing a bunch of rich guys in the primary who’re currently bloodying him up with ads and draining his already anemic coffers, I think you’ve got to say Hayhurst at least has a chance — which is the definition of Likely GOP.

  14. …it’s still the case that if the R’s sweep all the tossups (and the lean/likely R’s) the Democrats retain control of the house.  I may be off by one, but I think R’s need 40 seats for house control — 42 if D’s win DE-AL and LA-02.  That would be, on SSP’s chart, all the tossups plus 10-12 from the current “Lean D” column.

    In other words, a scenario in which Republicans retake the house requires an additional nudge toward the R side beyond (at least SSP’s) current predictions.

  15. ..but I can’t believe how surprised some of you are. Am I the only one that thinks these projections are optimistic? Only 3 races that we’re currently favored to lose? I find that incredibly hard to accept, as much as I’d like to.

  16. If Democrats control the House and Senate come January, I consider it a victory.

    The SSP ratings suggest to me a net loss of 20-to-30 House seats.

    That leaves us in control, and I would credit the big legislative success of health care reform as the reason we didn’t lose the House.

    And I really like our chances in 2012 with Obama surge voters returning to the voting booth, even with the Senate math working against us.

    So for 2010, if our majorities survive, I’ll take it and declare victory.

  17. We have the SSP official list for the House now.  I just spent the last half hour comparing this list to the list I’ve compiled, and I must say, in every region of the country outside of perhaps the Upper South, my ratings are generally much more optimistic, with few exceptions.  

    I’ll point out some key differences here:

    Michigan-7 – I’m extremely surprised to see this one sitting in the Lean D column.  I have this at Tossup with Team Red picking it up.  The only poll we’ve seen had Walberg up big.  

    Arkansas-2 – Here’s one of those seats where I just feel incredibly pessimistic.  I have this one at Likely R, but that was before the democrats coalesced around a candidate.  Still, the repubs got their man here, and it’s going to be very tough sledding.  

    Maine-1 – I just don’t know why people are failing to pay attention to this race.  Pingree is vulnerable, she only won by 11% in 2008 in a district Obama won by 21%.  

    West Virginia-1 – I’d like to hear an explanation from anybody, from SSP, from Cook, anyone, for why this seat is in the Tossup category.  Did Mollohan suddenly become unpopular overnight or something?

    California-3 – Likely R for Lungren?  Really?  Considering he didn’t win by much last time around, and that he is losing the fundraising chase to his challenger, in the one part of the country that is relatively immune to the anti-Democratic wave, I disagree vehemently with this rating.  Tossup.

    Arizona-1 & Arizona-8 – I’m not aware of any first or second-rate challengers for Kirkpatrick or Giffords, so I don’t know why you think they are in much danger.  Arizona, like California, probably won’t be moving much to the right this year, mostly because it failed to move left in 2008 because of McCain’s candidacy.

    California-48 & Michigan-3 – I’m a little surprised that these two democratic-trending seats didn’t make the board.  MI-3 is open, and Campbell is facing a tough challenge in CA-48.  I wouldn’t write those off.  

    Those are just some observations, but for the most part this list was fairly accurate.  I did note that a lot of your Lean D column I had inside my Likely D zone, and a lot of your Likely R column was in my Lean R zone.  Maybe that’s a result of me being a bit optimistic, but in lue of President Obama and Congress’s recent successes, it’s not impossible for the pendulum to turn back our way.  It would be helpful if the unemployment situation improved, because that’s a dealbreaker in some of these districts.

  18. I know you guys take pride in having realistic ratings that are not biased by your political preferences, but you may be over-compensating. This is more GOP-friendly than the right-leaning Rothenberg and Charlie “Hard to Imagine a Scenario” Cook. That said, maybe I’m being unrealistic, so I commend SSP for putting aside what they hope happens for the sake of reality.

    I won’t quibble over what should be Likely instead of Lean. One step in either direction is basically statistical noise. Also, I don’t mean to peg everything on 2008 numbers, since this is definitely not 2008, but it’s hard to see someone go from something like a 67% victory in 2008 to being in danger of losing in 2010. However, I am confused by a few:


    WV-01 (Mollohan) – Despite the credible primary and GE opponents, R+9 lean, and corruption investigation, he’s incredibly entrenched in the historically Dem district. Seems like Lean D at worst until some polling emerges.

    Lean D

    OH-13 (Sutton) – Is Ganley really that strong to warrant this, or are there other factors?  The primary challenge doesn’t seem very worrisome. It’s D+5 and she won in 2008 by 30 points.

    Likely D

    CA-18 (Cardoza) – Don’t get this at all. Cook has the same rating. Obama by 20 points, but Cardoza unopposed. What makes him vulnerable?  The irrigation board member?

    CA-47 (Sanchez) – Similar story here. Everyone has her at Likely D. Obama won by 22 points and Sanchez by 38. Is Tran that strong? Is the Vietnamese community super-motivated and strongly Republican?

    GA-02 (Bishop) – Swingy district, but won 2008 by 36 points. Challenger is state Senator, but not highly touted.

    MS-04 (Taylor) – The definition of entrenched. Won 2008 by 50 points, despite McCain winning by 35. Overperformed Obama by 85 points. If it’s a referendum on Obama, Taylor appears to have some wiggle room.

    MO-03 (Carnahan) – His two main opponents are a teabagger and the CoS to the least popular MO governor in memory. Russ overperformed Obama by 15 points. Most importantly, his sister will be at the top of the ticket, and you better believe her campaign will be maximizing performance in her brother’s district.

    NJ-12 (Holt) – A wealthy, self-funding opponent alone is enough for Likely D?

    OR-01 (Wu) –  Opponent is a “Young Gun”, but Obama won by 25, Wu by 29 in 2008. What are the other factors?

    RI-01 (Open-Kennedy) – May be an open seat, but it’s also D+13, with Obama by 32. The Dems seem much stronger than the GOP candidate.

    WA-02 (Larsen) – Is the GOP candidate that strong?

    WV-03 (Rahall) – Because the coal-backed primary challenger will defeat him or weaken him for the general?

    WI-07 (Obey) – Wha-wha-what?  The chair of the Appropriations committee versus a guy from the Real World? Maybe I’m not up to speed on his challengers.

    I think many of these warrant a Watch List, instead of Likely D, but you guys are the experts!

  19. In my own little mind, sometimes it is hard on any given race to determine whether it is “Likely” or “Lean”, “Lean” or “Tossup”, or “Safe” or “Likely”.  Since this is a crap shoot at this point, 7 months from the general election, I’ll point out some races where I had a race totally different from yours.

    1.  FL-22.  I don’t know the Republican candidate, but I was somewhat worried about this race.  I had it somewhere between Tossup and Lean.  Probably my own lack of knowledge.

    2.  WV-01.  I like Mollohan’s chances for reelection.  I have him as “Likely”.

    3.  OH-13.  I didn’t even have this race on my radar.  What’s going on with this race?

    Your other categories seem quite fair.  If I had to make a bet, I imagine that at least a dozen in the Likely Category will drop off this list in a few months.

    Great job!

  20. By the way, Chris Van Hollen gets a giant FAIL in Kansas this year. We could’ve had 3 competitive races, but we couldn’t recruit anyone for the easier (compared to KS-04) seats. I’m hard-pressed to think of any seats where we had a bigger recruiting FAIL.

  21. I understand why you have MN-01 (My home Disrict) as only Lean Democratic, on paper it is exactly the kind of District Republicans should be competitive in, but the way things are shaping up I think Walz is safe. The 4 Republicans seeking the seat have raised virtually no money, less than $25,000 combined as of the last FEC Filing (Walz 700K), and 3 of the 4 (exception State Rep Randy Demmer) are far far out looney toons Michelle Bachmann type Republicans. There are also 2 non Republican Tea Party type candidates in the race (one Independence Party candidate, one Independent) to make things even tougher on the Republicans.

  22. I might move a few back and forth but I think you have the total numbers about right. We are looking at about -30 I think. But things are more likely to get better than worse.

  23. I think WA 8 should be “Lean R” rather than “likely R” and WA 03 “Lean D” rather than toss-up. I’m a little surprised that WA 2 even made the list.

  24. But I think that with so many tough rankings, it’ll look a lot better for all of us when more of the races from now until november head towards the left side, making us all happy and giddy.

    It’ll be interesting how this all plays out, as I see this shrinking considerably.

  25. I’m a bit surprised to see PA-06 at Lean-R. It would be REALLY annoying if the Democrats lose that election yet again. It’s true, though, that Gerlach has a proven ability to win in that district, and though it’s hard to know how his attempt at Governor may affect anyone’s thinking, he is the incumbent.

  26. as I can certainly see your guys’ train of thought and see where you are coming from.

    My biggest yay was seeing MN-6 on the likely list.  And like you, I agree that MN-3 is not going to happen.  We need to redistrict Paulsen now or he’ll be set for life.

  27. Few comments:

    1. AR-02 is “leans Republican” for me now: Democrats have difficult to predict primary, while Republicans coalesced around one (and rather strong) candidate. Especially if Democratic nomination will go to Elliott: an overtly liberal Black candidate may be too much for this district

    2. Klein’s district is very polarized so it’s “Leans Democratic” for me in present climate

    3. On the other hand – i don’t see strong Republican candidate in NY-25 (the one i am aware of is very conservative), so this one may be even safe (for now)

  28. But im more pesimistic than SSP in few races, what I wish emphasize:

    LA-02: Currently I see not democrats emerging enough strong in this district. I think in this moment IL-10 look better for dems than LA-02. For me this race would be a Leans-Dem.

    MA-10: I think J Malone is a serious candidate for this district in republican side. For me this race would be a Toss-Up.

    ND-AL and MI-07 have strong challengers, and pro-republican pollsters are giving bad numbers in polls. I think give a Toss-Up for this races can be a little pesimistic but would be coherent looking the rate for other races in SSP ratings.

    IL-11 can be more a Toss-Up and IL-08 can be more a Leans-Dem in the contest of SSP ratings. I think We Ask America polls have very low value, but I think can be interesting take in consideration the relative positions between the different districts assuming they have the same level of “mistake” for all districts. We Ask America show us dems having better results in IL-10 than in IL-08, IL-14 and IL-11.

    I think with this little changes, the rating would improve, but my point is more optimistic. I would change more races to a more favorable rating for Dems.

  29. For what it’s worth, a lot of people here expect State Senator Brad Zaun to win the primary over the better-funded NRCC pick Jim Gibbons. If that happens, Zaun will be broke after the primary, and the NRCC will probably be even less likely to get involved in the district.

    Even if Gibbons wins the primary, I kind of doubt the NRCC will make a big play here. Iowa is losing a district after the 2010 census, and probably the winner of the IA-03 election will be thrown into the same district as Tom Latham, who currently represents IA-04. So even if they defeated Boswell, the GOP wouldn’t get a long-term gain out of this race. I think they have much better targets than IA-03.

  30. I won’t say whose right and wrong, but intrade has a bid-ask spread on Rep 30+ at 65-75.  According to your rankings, the Republicans would have to run the toss-up table and hold Cao and DE-AL to do that, which sounds like a price under 50.  So, if you think these ratings are correct, then you should be selling on intrade without hesitation.

    1. That didn’t take long.

      I’m condescending, but someone who calls me unequivocally wrong on something that clearly is a matter of interpretation isn’t? Or patting yourself on the back for your argument and calling me lazy? Boring. If you don’t like my argument, that’s fine, but spare me the self-righteous defensiveness.

      Charlie Cook is pessimistic because he sometimes changes his mind? Was he being pessimistic when he predicted big Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008? I don’t follow.

      As JamesL pointed out, it’s early, so to stand back from this vantage point and to call races as they stand would trend more towards being safe and lumping a lot of races into the toss-up category. I totally get that, although for my own predictions I would disagree.

      As almost everyone agrees, we’re going to lose seats, and probably by a pretty big number. Some of that is climate, some history, but mostly due to the fact that we’re playing on a lot of conservative turf that we’ve picked up over the years. It stands to reason a lot of that is going to fall back as things equalize. It also stands to reason that it is more likely to happen in very conservative districts, open districts, districts which the Dems barely won in ’06 or ’08, or something combination of the above. Again, I think almost everyone recognizes this, so perhaps some of it is simply a matter of what we want to frame as toss-up or lean, but as James again pointed out, I would look at anything where we are more than 60% likely to lose as Lean R, and that puts a lot more seats in that category.

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