Incredibly Early 2012 Senate Speculation

Well, this is a fairly silly exercise this far out (and a waste of the hour I just spent writing it), but here it is anyway: my pointlessly early handicapping of the 2012 Senate picture.


– Dems are in better shape than it looks (remember, everyone thought we’d pick up seats in 2010 this far out), but still slight underdogs.

– Unlike 2010, GOP has a couple of glaring D pickup opportunities to deal with, but should still break about even to slight GOP advantage.

– None of this is the least bit set yet, and mostly isn’t anything people don’t already know, but at least it’s all in one place now.



Arizona (Jon Kyl, 1995) : In 2006, Kyl beat real estate consultant Jim Pederson by a solid 10 points in a Democratic year. If he runs again, he should win easily, especially given the hard right trend of Arizona politics since 2008.

SSP reported a couple of weeks ago that Kyl has had anemic fundraising in the period leading up to 2011 and that retirement speculation is building. Even if he steps aside, however, this is simply likely to result in an even more depressing Republican winning the seat. The AZ Democratic party really isn’t very well organized, and the D bench here is surprisingly slim for such a populous state. Likely R with Kyl, Lean R without.

Indiana (Richard Lugar, 1977) : Lugar is so popular among the Indiana general electorate, he didn’t even have an opponent in 2006. There’s a chance he could be teabagged. Even if this happened, however, Dems have no bench here: Bayh is MIA, Ellsworth and Hill are damaged from their 2010 losses and Weizenapfel is a severe underdog. Obama also isn’t likely to contest Indiana to the degree that he did in 2008. I’m giving this race to the GOP either way. Likely R

Maine (Olympia Snowe, 1995) : With her bucking of the hard-right ideology that has taken over the ME GOP, Snowe has become a finalist for the dubious “Most likely to be teabagged” award. The question at this point is really whether or not a teabagger candidate will emerge in such a low-interest rural state. Even if Snowe does end up losing her primary, there’s no guarantee that a quality Democrat will run. At this point, it’s Obama’s support in the 2nd CD could also decide a great deal in this race. Like the ME-Gov race this year, it’s unlikely we’ll know all the details until very late in the cycle, and even then the polls will probably be wrong. Solid R with Snowe, Lean R without .

Massachusetts (Scott Brown, 2010) : It’s almost certain that despite Brown’s high approval rating the Dems will try their damndest to get Ted Kennedy’s seat back after Martha Chokely’s complete epic campaign fail in 2009-10. There will be presidential-level turnout here, and Dems will almost certainly run a better campaign than Coakley did, but MA voters are wary of a Democratic monopoly and Brown has been working hard to keep his voting record moderate. An Obama landslide or a Vicki Kennedy candidacy could dislodge him by default, but anyone else is going to be in for a barnburner. Tossup

Mississippi (Roger Wicker, 2007) : Wicker beat the pants off of top-tier recruit Ronnie Musgrove in 2008 by a much larger than expected margin. The shift of the South to the GOP is more or less complete at this point. There’s no reason to expect otherwise in this race. Solid R

Nevada (John Ensign, 2001) : John Ensign is toast, whether it be in the primary or in the general. The expectation is a matchup between 2nd CD Congressman Dean Heller and 1st CD Congresswoman Shelly Berkeley. That would be a reasonable assumption for the 2006 cycle, but in 2012, it’s entirely likely that Heller could be teabagged by none other than still-popular-with-the-fringe-that-votes-in-GOP-primaries Sharron Angle, or a similar nutcase. In a Heller vs. Berkeley matchup in a contested swing state in a Presidential year, it would be a dead heat to slight Berklely advantage. Berkeley vs. Angle, of course, would be a Democratic rout. Either way, this might turn out to be our best pickup opportunity of the cycle. Tossup to Lean D

Tennessee (Bob Corker, 2007) : The bottom has fallen out for Dems in Tennessee since Harold Ford’s narrow 2006 loss to Corker. There has been talk of a Corker primary, but as there are few statewide officials of stature who can pull that off, Corker is probably safe regardless. Likely R .

Texas (Kay Bailey Hutchison, 1993) : Hutchsion’s massively bungled retirement last year will make for an interesting primary whether or not she runs. In the likely event that the eventual GOP nominee here will be slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, a good statewide Dem could make a race of this. Unfortunately, there aren’t many TX Dems with statewide appeal left. Likely R in lieu of a top-tier Dem.

Utah (Orrin Hatch, 1977) : Hatch is dead man walking, having provoked the teabaggers in the most Republican state in the Union. In true Hatch form, he’ll go down slinging bile, but there’s no chance in hell that a Dem can win here even if Jason Chaffetz is the nominee. Solid R  

Wyoming (John Barrasso, 2007) : This is not the race you’re looking for. They can go about their [small] business. Move along. Solid R


California (Dianne Feinstein, 1993) : The rapidly aging Feinstein is a retirement prospect. As the most popular statewide elected official in California, she’d win re-election easily, but even if she quit, it’s unlikely the GOP would find a candidate who could win a primary and a general back to back in a presidential year. Likely D either way.

Delaware (Tom Carper, 2001) : There have been rumors of a Carper retirement, but whether or not he actually does, the GOP’s viable bench here began and ended with the now-retired Mike “Florida Beaches” Castle. Likely D .

Florida (Bill Nelson, 2001) : As today’s front page shows, Nelson is under 50, but still in a pretty commanding position vs. the potential Republican field. He’s also excellent at campaigning, especially in outreach to the elderly. This is likely to be his toughest campaign to date, but I give him the advantage for now. Lean D

Hawaii (Daniel Akaka, 1993) : The octogenerian Akaka is actually the same age as Daniel Inouye, but doesn’t have the glacial seniority or enormous list of legislative accomplishments to show for it. It’s strongly rumored that he’ll retire while he still can. If that’s the case, I recall reading that outgoing GOP Gov. Linda Lingle is considering the race. Despite Hawaii’s overwhelming support of Obama at the Presidential level, this could be a surprisingly close race if Akaka retires and Lingle pulls the trigger. Otherwise, it’ll be a no-contest D hold regardless of what Akaka does.

Lean D open seat with Lingle, Likely D all else

Maryland (Ben Cardin, 2007) : Cardin is a safe, boring, reliable Democrat of the type that can’t lose in a deep blue state in a Presidential year. Likely D , but only because this is his first time. In reality, he’ll win. With Ehrlich’s flameout in 2010, the GOP has no statewide bench here.

Michigan (Debbie Stabenow, 2001) : Stabenow has always stuck me as a bit on the wishy-washy side, and Michigan is hurting so badly right now that every incumbent – especially Democrats – is going to have trouble by default. Obama is going to have a lot more trouble here than he did in 2008, when McCain pretty much handed him the state with a bow on top. Stabenow has a lot of room to improve her numbers, but should be considered endangered until proven otherwise. Unlike most other incumbents who won semi-contested races in 2006, her last re-election was a 57-41 blowout in a good year and she’s never stuck me as a particularly good campaigner, so she’s a lot more at risk of being caught napping. I think Stabenow has a lot more to lose than a lot of Dems this cycle, and it really depends on how well she adapts to the shifting economic/political climate. Lean D for now , but it’s one to keep an eye on.

Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar, 2007) : Klobuchar has managed to be arguably the Senator with the highest approval rating in the entire country, and the GOP’s statewide bench in Minnesota leaves something to be desired at this point. Speculation at this point has swirled around Michele “Kooky” Bachmann making a run, which would turn this contest into the equivalent of FL-Sen in 2006. (Seriously, why wouldn’t she wait 2 years and run against the much less popular Al Franken in an off year?) Even with the MIP on the ballot, Klobuchar is popular enough that she has to be given a significant advantage. Likely D .

Missouri (Claire McCaskill, 2007) : McCaskill is a good campaigner, but could be done in by the demographics of her state, especially given Robin Carnahan’s utter shellacking this year. It probably depends a bit on the Republican nominee, but, as with all MO contests this decade, I have to call this a tossup at best right now. Tossup .  

Montana (Jon Tester, 2007) : Tester won his seat by less than 1% in a Democratic year, and Obama himself nearly won Montana in 2008. It’s all downhill from there, as Democratic numbers in the state have completely collapsed in the wake of Obamacare – especially given newly popular-as-cancer Senator Max Baucus’s role in that debacle. Tester’s hanging out in Baucus’s shadow for his entire term is going to come back to bite him, and might be an insurmountable obstacle. However, it depends on the nominee. If, as expected, the GOP nominee is Denny Rehberg, Tester might still have a shot if he can paint Rehberg as the Abramoff-loving insider that he is. Otherwise, we’re looking at a Republican rout here. (Note: I used to live in Montana. I understand MT voters better than a lot of people here. Please don’t second guess my analysis of this race unless you’ve actually lived in that region.) Tossup to Lean R

Nebraska (Ben Nelson, 2001) : Ben Nelson is the most conservative DINO in the caucus by far, and Nebraska – like most states in that region – had its Democratic high water mark in 2008, when Obama actually won NE-02. Although much has been made of Nelson’s supposed vulnerability here, I’ll believe it when a top-tier candidate declares. Otherwise, he’s committed no outright gaffes and might be surprisingly difficult for the GOP to bump off. Lean D for now.

New Jersey (Bob Menendez, 2007) : The lackluster Menendez has relatively anemic approval ratings, even among Democrats, but still has to be considered a slight favorite. This is New Jersey in a presidential year, after all. Still, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see this race become much closer than it should be simply due to Menendez being the turd that he is. (And yes, I have plenty of justification for that statement, between his poor campaigning skills, his awful tenure as head of the DSCC, his poor-to-nonexistent constituent outreach, and his holding important Democratic bills hostage on more than one occasion because he wanted to tighten the failed embargo on Cuba. Corzine could’ve done a lot better here.) Lean D .

New Mexico (Jeff Bingaman, 1983) : I’ve heard retirement rumors of questionable veracity for Bingaman, but nothing concrete. If he retires, this is probably a Lean D race given the native Hispanic community’s still fairly strong support of Obama. If Bingaman runs again, of course he’ll win easily. Solid D with Bingaman, Lean D without

New York (Kirsten Gillibrand, 2009) : Gillibrand won the special for the rest of Hillary Clinton’s term, just in time to run for a new term of her own. She did fine in 2010, and should have no problems whatsoever in 2012. Solid D

North Dakota (Kent Conrad, 1992) : This one’s a weird situation. After Dorgan retired and Pomeroy lost in 2010, ND has gone from a 3-0 Dem delegation to Conrad being the only holdout. Given his seniority, he’s likely to run again, but a retirement isn’t entirely out of the question. The saving grace here is that with John Hoeven safely elected to Dorgan’s seat and Rick Berg still getting his training wheels the GOP doesn’t really have a top-tier bench to go against Conrad. If he retired, Pomeroy could easily run for the seat and might even win. I doubt he’ll retire, though. Likely D .

Ohio (Sherrod Brown, 2007) : Sherrod Brown has a problem, which is that he has a voting record only slightly to the right of Bernie Sanders, but he represents a state as stupidly conservative as Ohio, where Dems lost catastrophically in 2010. This more than any other Democratic Senate race will likely depend entirely on how well Obama does in Ohio. If Obama wins, Brown will probably be able to survive. If Obama loses Ohio, Brown’s in trouble. He could be in trouble anyway, but I’m at least confident that Brown is a good enough campaigner to make this a close race in either direction. This one is definitely one to watch.   Lean D to Tossup

Pennsylvania (Bob Casey, 2007) : Two years ago, I never would’ve suspected that Casey, who used to have sky-high approval ratings, would be on the “bottom 3” list just after John Ensign and Joe Lieberman, but sadly, this is the case today. As with Brown, Obama’s performance here will probably decide everything, only there’s a lot more Democratic upside in PA than there is in Ohio. Obama will probably win PA absent a Reagan-style landslide, and turnout in Philly, Pittsburgh, and Scranton should be good enough to get Casey re-elected if he shores up the base. It will be closer than it should be, though. Lean D

Rhode Island : The surprisingly robust John Robiatalle might run against Whitehouse, but Whitehouse has the obvious advantage as the incumbent in a solidly Democratic state. Of the 6 seats Dems picked up in 2006, this is probably the one of least concern. Likely D .

Virginia (Jim Webb, 2007) : Webb beat Senator Macaca by less than 1% in 2006, When and whether Webb runs against Allen again in 2012 is still a subject of debate – much has been made of his dislike of his job and of fundraising. This gives Allen the mojo going into the contest.

Allen’s biggest danger right now is getting teabagged. However, this is Virginia, and it’s likely that there will be multiple teabaggers running. If Allen survives the primary, he has to be considered a slight favorite. However, Democratic organization in Virginia here may determine the outcome of this race AND the Presidential race.

If Brian Moran can’t keep the party together and enough Federal employees are disgruntled by their pointless wage freeze, it might tip the scales just enough to negate any advantage Dems had here in 2008. Tossup

Washington (Maria Cantwell, 2001) : Cantwell is more popular than Patty Murray, will be running in an improved climate in a state with a comparatively good economy, and the WA GOP is really running out of viable statewide candidates at this point. Likely D

West Virginia (Joe Manchin, 2010) : As with Gillibrand, Manchin has to do it all over again next cycle. Thanks to the fact that none of the state’s limited pool of top-tier GOP talent wants to run against him, it’s likely that he’ll succeed, even in spite of WV’s obvious preference for the GOP. Lean D .

Wisconsin (Herb Kohl, 1989) : Septugenarian Kohl has been the subject of retirement rumors for some time, and the recently defeated Russ Feingold has been subject to an equal amount of comeback speculation should he decide to do so. Kohl is middle of the road enough that he should have no problems should he run again; a Feingold do-over would really depend on who the GOP found to run against him. Fortunately, Paul Ryan is probably going to be too busy destroying the budget in the House to run for Senate, and Tommy Thompson has bungled coming out of retirement enough times that he’s probably not viable. Any other GOP candidate is probably the underdog in a presidential year. Likely D with Kohl, Lean D without .  


Connecticut (Joe Lieberman, 1989): The one consensus going into this cycle is that Holy Joe is royally hosed by the uberpartisan environment that, ironically, he helped create by campaigning for McCain. Linda McMahon is all but running, and if she doesn’t, some other Republican will. He is roundly despised by Connecticut Democrats, and independents don’t much care for him, either. The only danger is that there’s a bloody primary on the Democratic side that damages the eventual nominee. Then Lieberman might pick up just enough support to throw the election to McMahon. In any case, the one outcome we can be sure of this far out is that the odds of Joe Lieberman winning a fourth term in the Senate are about as likely as my cat discovering a cure for cancer. Tossup to Lean D

Vermont: (Bernie Sanders, 2007): Sanders is tremendously popular in Vermont and has this seat for as long as he wants it. Solid I  

Obligatory Senate predictions.

Well, since my House diary was so successful (all of 16 comments, over half of them my own – yay!), I’m going to keep going. Here are my Senate predictions. Stealing a good idea from spiderdem, I’m also going to include projected margins of victory, mostly based on what I’ve seen, but occasionally pulled out of my butt based on gut feeling, observed trends, or some other completely arbitrary whatever.  


*Alaska: McAdams 35 Murkowski 34 Miller 31

Murkowski and Miller take a pound of flesh from each other, McAdams narrowly wins. Years of lawsuits ensue.


*California: Boxer 53 Fiorina 47

Boxer always closes strong. Good D turnout in CA.

*Colorado: Bennet 51 Buck 49

Late D turnout for Bennet pulls him over.

*Connecticut: Blumenthal 54 McMahon 46

Weak performance by Blumenthal, but McMahon can’t win.

*Delaware: Coons 61 O’Donnell 39

Thanks, teabaggers!  

*Nevada: Reid 50 Angle 50

Goes to a recount, but Reid wins by less than 1,000 votes.

*New York-B: Gillibrand 60 Some Dude 40

Not even close. I can’t even remember the R’s name here.

*Oregon: Wyden 57 Huffman 43

Only in Scotty Ras’s fevered dreams is this race remotely competitive.

*Pennsylvania: Sestak 52 Toomey 48

Sestak’s last minute “blitzkrieg” strategy overwhelms yet another complacent Republican. If he pulls this out, he should run for President.

*Washington: Murray 53 Rossi 47

I don’t care what the polls say, Dino Rossi will never, ever, ever come remotely close to winning a statewide race in Washington after 2004.

*West Virginia: Manchin 55 Raese 45

This state clearly wants to elect a Republican, but a carpetbagging rich guy from Florida isn’t going to beat a Dem as popular as Joe Manchin.


*Arkansas: Boozman 57 Lincoln 43

Lincoln pulls closer, but still doesn’t deliver.

*Illinois: Kirk 50 Giannoulias 50

This one won’t be resolved for months. Between here and NV, media develops “Dems cheating at important seats” narrative. Heckuva job, Blago.

*Indiana: Coats 54 Ellsworth 46

Ellsworth really should win this one, but he’s run a terrible campaign. Entirely Evan Bayh’s fault for being such a two-faced coward.

*North Dakota: Hoeven 66 Some Dude 33

Like NY-Sen, I can’t even remember the loser’s name here.

*Wisconsin: Johnson 52 Feingold 48

Feingold is the Nancy Boyda of the US Senate. If he’d accepted DSCC help, he’d have won.


*Arizona: McCain 58 Glassman 42

McCain crushes Glassman. No contest.

*Florida: Rubio 44 Crist 39 Meek 17

Crist’s epic fail of a campaign and Meek’s epic fail of an ego have totally screwed us here.

*Georgia: Isakson 57 Thurmond 43

Isakson weak for a GOP incumbent in Georgia, but this isn’t the year.

*Iowa: Grassley 56 Conlin 44

Surprisingly weak showing for Grassley, but everyone knows it’s his last election.

*Kentucky: Paul 53 Conway 47

The Aqua Buddha ad inexplicably killed Conway’s campaign. Kentucky voters are idiots.

*Louisiana: Vitter 52 Melancon 48

In the biggest shocker of the night, Melancon almost knocks off Vitter…until the Shreveport vote barely drags him over the line.

*Missouri: Blunt 51 Carnahan 49

Carnahan closes strong, but it’s not quite enough. Blunt is such an enormous a-hole that he won’t last more than a single term, even in MO.

*New Hampshire: Ayotte 54 Hodes 46

Hodes too liberal to win statewide in a bad year.

*North Carolina: Burr 52 Marshall 48

Biggest missed opportunity of the cycle.

*Ohio: Portman 59 Fisher 41

Fisher’s phoned it in. Stick a fork in this one.


Hawaii, Maryland, New York-A, Vermont


Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, S. Dakota, Utah


Old margin: D 59, R 41

New margin: D 54, R 46

That’s it. There’s less to do here so I’m not that far off from everyone else’s projections, but have at me anyway.  

Obligatory House predictions.

You’ll notice I’m being a lot more optimistic than most, but frankly, I don’t jump when Wolf Blitzer and Rush Limbaugh tell me to jump, and those diaries about actual trends in early voting roughly matching 2006 are, to me, much more valuable than some bullshit hyperbole from a punditocracy well known for having all of their heads jammed firmly up each others’ asses.

The election is also close enough that I’m not going to bother with any of that “lean/likely” crap. I’m doing straight who I think will win and lose, and reserving “tossup” (a cop out category if there ever was one) for the races that I truly have no freaking clue over. In other words, the “tossup” category is huge this year, because this is one fracking weird election.

Actual content over the flip.  


AR-01: Causey is within striking distance, but hasn’t polled ahead all cycle. The lean of the district will sink him.

AR-02: Elliott (shockingly!) polling within 12, but it’s still a joke of a race.

*2 seats in Arizona out of the following: AZ-01, AZ-05, AZ-07, AZ-08.

CO-03: Colorado’s not going to be one of our better states this year. Ironically, Ken Salazar at the top of the ballot might’ve saved his brother this year.

CO-04: Ken Buck’s home district, so R turnout is going to be bloody.

FL-02: Boyd barely won his primary, has lost his base, and is twisting in the wind.

FL-08: Grayson is way too liberal for this district, and, though Webster is a nutjob, I have no faith in Florida voters. Also, early turnout in FL is absolutely brutal for Dems because of the stupid Senate race.

FL-24: Kosmas is an uninspired incumbent who beat a comically damaged Tom Feeney in 2008, then sat back and watched as her district turned on her. Won’t even be close.

GA-02: This may be controversial, but there’s so much anti-Obama racism going on in the South right now, I’d be surprised if Bishop isn’t in it deeper than the polls show. People don’t want to admit they’re racist to total strangers in a poll, after all. Bishop is already within the MOE. I think he’s done. GA isn’t going to be one of our good states this year.

GA-08: Marshall is doomed. Dissolving into a rant about it’s your party leader’s fault that you’re losing is not the mark of a winner. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving a-hole.

IL-11: Halvorson beat an absolute idiot for this seat in 2008 on Obama’s coattails in his home state, then took for granted that it would happen twice. Buhye.

IN-08: I was the last one to give up on this seat, but even I have to concede it’s probably gone.

KS-03: Memo to Kansas Dems: when your incumbent quits, don’t run the guy’s wife just because you can’t come up with a real candidate. It just looks desperate.

LA-03: This one might be closer than expected if Melancon really romps downstate (which I think he will), but we haven’t really got a good candidate to take advantage.

MD-01: In 2008, Kratovil didn’t even win a majority here against the same guy, and the LV sample will be more Republican this year, esp. with the Governor’s race on the ballot.

MA-10: Polls aren’t showing strong liberal third party candidates. Too many Dems spoil the broth.

MI-07: This district hates Walberg, but he’ll get elected anyway on Snyder’s coattails.

MS-04: Taylor is the Martha Coakley of the South.

NJ-03: Shades of NJ-Gov last year in this traditionally Republican district: the Dem sucks, the GOPer sucks, too, but people hate the Dem so much that he’ll narrowly lose.

NM-02: We’ll have a mildly bad year in New Mexico this cycle, and Pearce is ahead in most polling. Martinez at the top of the ticket is the final nail.

NY-19: Similar to Grayson’s district – somewhat Republican, rich, clueless, and represented by a Dem who’s way too liberal to keep getting elected there.

NY-29: Pre-implosion Eric Massa could’ve held this, but we have no one else of his caliber here.

OH-01: Dems targeted Chabot for nearly a decade before he lost in a fluke due to unusually large black turnout for Obama. Driehaus is gone.

OH-06: Appalachian voters are looking for any reason to toss out Dems at the Federal level right now, even if they’re personally popular (see also: WV-Sen, which Manchin will only win because Raese is a carpetbagger). Wilson apparently being a wife-beating a-hole is all the excuse they need.  

OH-15: Kilroy is a completely uninspiring incumbent and a terrible campaigner who turned a sure thing in 2008 into a recount. The good news is Stivers sucks, too, so we might be competitive here in 2012 with a better Democrat.

OH-16: I’m assuming the worst in Ohio this year.

OH-18: Space looked okay earlier, but has collapsed in the last few weeks.

PA-03: Kathy Dahlkemper is the Suzanne Kosmas of the North.

PA-10: Like Space in OH-18, Carney looked good for most of the cycle but has collapsed in recent weeks.

SC-05: Memo to John Spratt: Don’t announce that you have a debilitating illness that impedes your mental capacity, then turn around and file for re-election in the same week! It’s just insulting! (What is wrong with these people?)

SD-AL: If Herseth-Sandlin had bothered to run real ads instead of ads about baby poop, she could’ve pulled this out, but her trajectory is not good.

TN-04: Assuming the worst in Tennessee this year.

TN-06: This seat was gone before the ink dried on Bart Gordon’s letter of resignation, and probably even if he hadn’t.

TN-08: We at least tried here, but it’s gone.

TX-17: Edwards looks a bit better in recent polls, but he’s still going to lose.

TX-23: Canseco is leading Rodriguez in most polls and is the better campaigner. TX Hispanics will vote Republican in large numbers if it’s one of their own.

VA-02: This is a tossup in most other estimations, but I don’t see a district so reliant on the military-industrial complex and so close in composition to MD-01 re-electing a Democrat.

WA-03: Heck is gaining on Herrera, but not fast enough. The “cell phone gap” doesn’t really apply to this district because it’s more blue-collar and has never been terribly liberal, so I think polls are accurate. Heck will come closer than polled, but still lose.

WI-07: This district is gone. So is the state.

WI-08: I’m assuming the worst in Wisconsin, which has Kagen going down, too.

*WV-01: This is on the takeover list not because I think Olivero won’t win (he will), but because I expect him to be a Republican by this time next year, so we lose the seat either way.


AZ-01, AZ-05, AZ-07, AZ-08. Whichever 2 we don’t lose outright are tossups. Stupid Arizona.

CT-05: Ugh. I hate this district.

FL-22: No way this race should be competitive with a lunatic like West in the mix, but our turnout in FL sucks this year.  

IL-17: Hare got caught napping and the top of the ticket sucks, but Dems might still come home to him at the last minute as there’s no Green running here (at least not according to the Race Tracker wiki.)

MI-01: This is the tossup’s tossup. Polling has been all over the MOE here. Depends entirely on who shows up.

MS-01: I’m not entirely convinced Childers is doomed yet. 2008 wasn’t a great year to be a Dem in Mississippi, and Nunnlee has never actually led in any reputable poll. Childers is actually fighting for this one, so let’s wait and see here.

NH-01: CSP has always overperformed polling. She was supposed to lose against Jeb Bradley, too, remember, and Guinta is no Jeb Bradley. I’m still slightly pessimistic that this district is slipping away, but don’t underestimate this incumbent. Don’t overestimate her, either.

NY-20: This district isn’t as Republican as it used to be even a decade ago, but it’s still a close enough race that I’m putting it here. I think Murphy pulls it out, though. I grew up in the district next door (VT-AL), and this entire region of New York has come way leftward in the last few years.

NY-23: Same here. I’m tilting Owens, but it’s competitive regardless. (Do note, though, that Hoffman wouldn’t have been a factor even if he’d stayed in, which is why he dropped out.)

ND-AL: I don’t care what the pundits say, I don’t buy that this state will chuck out its very senior Congressman when they’re already losing Dorgan.

PA-07: Meehan is the better candidate, but big turnout for Sestak in his home district could still save us here, and Sestak is popular enough that that’s a distinct possibility.

PA-11: Kanjorski has crept up a bit as Scranton Dems have consolidated, and Barletta is a really crappy candidate, too. This one will be too close, and whoever wins won’t deserve it.

VA-05: Amazingly, Periello is still within the MOE in polling. If one progressive in a tough district wins this year, it’ll be him.

WI-03: If we get spanked as hard in Wisconsin as we will in Tennessee, Kind is in trouble. Otherwise, he’ll be fine.


AL-02: Roby is a weak opponent and has trailed substantially in most polls. This district will probably dump Bright at some point, but not this year.

IL-14: Foster knows his way around this district and should be fine, despite the top of the ticket.

IN-02: Donnelly has proven this cycle that he’s vulnerable, but the GOP is going to have to do better than Wacky Jackie if they want this seat.

IN-09: No way Hill loses to Carmel Boy. The GOP will have to get rid of him the old fashioned way: redistrict the crap out of his district. (Though if we lose IN-08, they can’t really put Bloomington anywhere else without screwing one of their own, so maybe he’ll survive redistricting, too.)

IA-01: Not even close.

IA-02: I’d worry about Loebsack if he had a real opponent.

IA-03: Boswell looks better than he did earlier in the cycle. Bet he retires in 2012 rather than run against Latham.

KY-03: Yarmuth has led comfortably all cycle.

KY-06: Chandler looks in pretty good shape, and turnout for Conway in Lexington will be pretty substantial.

ME-01: Pingree sucks at campaigning and really doesn’t seem to have gotten the hang of her district in general. Weak turnout for Mitchell and Cutler might hurt her here, but I think she still wins.

ME-02: This will be closer than polling suggests thanks to the weird nature of Maine voters and lack of enthusiasm for the liberals running for Governor, but I think Michaud pulls it out.

MA-ALL: We’re only losing MA-10 this cycle, though MA-03, 04, 05, and 06 will all be closer than they should be.

MI-09: Despite an evenly divided district, Peters looks like he’s in pretty good shape.

MI-15: Only in Eric Erickson’s fevered dreams.

MN-01: By the time the GOP started closing here, it was too late. Walz will survive.

MN-08: No way Oberstar loses, no matter how many pundits and Redstate idiots say WERE GOING TO WIN SEVENTY ZILLION SEATS OMFG LOL WTF 11111

MO-03: Not even in 1994.

MO-04: Skelton has led in most reputable polls, and his seniority has to count for something. He’ll get the scare of his life and retire in 2012. (Which makes Gene Taylor’s supporting him for speaker all the more comical.)

NV-03: Titus hit the ground running this cycle and got a good number of Porter voters behind her early. She’s been really fighting hard for it, and will do better than Reid next week.

NH-02: Charlie Bass is the GOP equivalent of Martha Coakley. Having completely forgotten that NH-02 chucked him out on his butt in 2006, he failed to raise money or campaign, took his own election for granted, and is now being annihilated by Kuster, who will win easily.

NJ-12: Holt wins a squeaker, the Leg tries to shore him up in redistricting, Christie vetoes the bill 327 times just to be a troll, the leg impeaches him, New Jersey applauds.

…Well, if the Redstaters are allowed to dream about Dingell and Oberstar losing….

NM-01: Heinrich has polled about where you’d expect him to be in this slightly D (but Heather Wilson-friendly) district. He’ll be fine.

NM-03: Lujan shouldn’t even be on this list, but NM sucks this year.

NY-01: Bishop looked shaky a few months ago, but has started actually running and looks fine now.

NY-02: Israel was never in trouble in the first place.

NY-04: Ditto.

NY-13: McMahon by all rights deserves to lose, but another hilarious dose of Staten Island GOP fail keeps him viable for at least another cycle. He is one arrogant bastard, though.

NY-22: Hinchey had quite a scare last week, but seems to be campaigning for his life now. He’ll pull it out.

NY-24: Somehow Mike Arcuri survives in spite of himself.

NC-ALL: None of the incumbents polled have ever been under 50. This is just more Redstate bloviating.

OR-01: Wu is an absolute idiot and probably deserves to lose, but Corneilles is well behind in polling. The increasing D lean and total voter apathy in this district have kept Wu in office for over a decade – why stop now?

OR-04: Will be closer than it should be because of depressed liberal turnout in Eugene (something about the stupid hippies not liking Kizhaber because he’s not a stupid hippie…or something), but DeFazio has enough crossover support that he’ll be ok.

OR-05: SSP moved this race too soon. Bruun has limited appeal outside of the Portland suburbs, and Schrader runs a good ground game in the rural areas. I’m still leaning Schrader here.

PA-08: Like Hinchey in NY-22, Murphy got quite a scare last week, but looks good now that he’s upped the volume on his campaign.

UT-02: Many long-time Blue Dogs will lose this year. Matheson is not one of them. (The difference between him and Boyd: Boyd nearly got primaried. Matheson nearly got voted out in convention, which is totally arbitrary, then cruised in his primary.)

VA-11: Another in the “dreamin'” column.

WA-02: Major “cell phone” effect in polling the SeaTac area, and fantastic turnout in Washington so far keep this one not even close.

WA-09: Slightly closer than WA-02, but still not close enough to worry about for all of the same reasons.


DE-AL: Won’t even be close.

HI-01: Djou is competitive in polling, but Japanese never answer polls. Hanabusa will win.

LA-02: Cao only won because of Jefferson.


AZ-03: Quayle fail. This district is too white to benefit from depressed Latino turnout – it’s entirely about the candidate.

CA-03: Lungren is within the MOE and floundering. Bera is campaigning hard. This could be one of the brightest spots of the evening.

IL-10: The Republican equivalent of PA-07. I really have no faith in the voters of this district to vote for three time also-ran Dan Seals with Mark Kirk on the top of the ballot.

MI-03: This is probably actually a slightly Lean R race still, but I’m putting it here anyway.

MN-06: This one has flown under the radar, but Bachmann has really struggled this year (including losing the endorsement of her district’s biggest newspaper for the first time – and people in the Midwest still actually read newspapers). Weak turnout for Emmer might sink her.

WA-08: Like Bachmann, Reichert has had a bad year, and, like Bachmann, he’s lost the Seattle Times and has rumors swirling around that he’s mentally incompetent. Delbene within MOE and has more universal appeal than Burner did.


FL-12: This was never more than a Lean R race, and bad turnout will sink us here.

FL-25: I had us winning here until I saw the turnout numbers. Thanks for being a selfish a-hole, Kendrick Meek.

KS-04: GOP has a solid collection of 1990’s driftwood at the top of the ticket and Pompeo is a jerk, but the district’s lean might be a bit too much for Goyle to overcome. This will be like ID-01 in 2006.

NE-02: Not the best year for us in the Mole People States. Terry has never been behind in a poll this cycle and his opponent has issues.


D SEATS LOST: 41. (R +41)

D TOSSUPS: 15 (R +7)

Subtotal: R +47  

R SEATS LOST: 3 (D +3)

R TOSSUPS: 6 (D +3)

Subtotal: D +6

TOTAL: R +41


R 219 D 214

In other words, nearly the same number as the final result from 2006, only skewed in their favor this time.

Bottom line: It’s probably optimistic to expect we keep the House, but being Chicken Little and buying into the Republican/pundit groupthink that we’ll lose 80 seats is just stupid. I’ve got some oceanfront property here in Indiana I’d like to sell you, too.

And I’m sure there are problems with this list. There are too damn many incumbents to keep track of this year. I just wanted to counter all of the doom and gloom around these parts with some “we’re probably hosed, but not as much as people want to believe”.

Also, look at how many of the guaranteed losers are Blue Dogs. Most of the Republican seats we pick up will be won by Progressives, so the losses we sustain in seats such as FL-08 and NY-19 will be mostly recouped.

There are 54 Blue Dogs. As many as half of them are going to lose. It will utterly decimate their caucus, and there aren’t any entering Dems to replenish those numbers, except for maybe the guy in AZ-03 if he wins.

The next Dem caucus will be a lot more liberal, in other words, though I’m not holding my breath that they’ll be able to capitalize on that, especially with the rumors that Pelosi is quitting if we lose the House and leaving that (procedural) idiot Hoyer in charge.  

In any case, I’m sure this is controversial to some of you, so have at me.  

She Gerrymanders With Her Own Wings: Redistricting Oregon

I lived in Oregon from 2006 to 2007 and still have ties to the state. I’ve been wanting to do an Oregon redistricting post for some time, but never quite got around to it. As there’s been a lot of call for one around these parts lately, though, I decided to try my hand. Here’s what I came up with:

New Oregon Map

Much more over the flip…


I started by calculating the 2010 population of each county, as well as certain specific zip codes (especially in Portland). (As CDP’s are such an incredible pain to tally, zip codes are the way to go when splitting counties). From this, I determined that Oregon would most likely pick up a sixth seat as projected by the Census Bureau, with an estimated population of about 3,904,079. Assuming an even number of people in every district as with the 2002 map, the above number divided by 5 is 780,816 – way too many for one district. Divided by 6, however, it yields a very comfortable 650,680. I therefore decided to use this number as a population goal for each district. I then used dKos’s nifty electoral scoreboard tool to calculate new, post-2008 PVIs at the county level.

The good news is that Oregon is definitely trending our way, and with the Dems likely to still be in control of the redistricting trifecta, we’re going to end up with a pretty good map here. As Texas-style spaghetti gerrymandering is frowned upon and I otherwise didn’t have enough solidly Democratic population to make five safe D districts, I focused on incumbent protection first, while trying to make the extra district as swingy as possible.

The Districts

OR-01 (incumbent David Wu, D):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Clackamas 1,300 .03% 54 44 49 50 D +1
Multnomah 87,677 12% 77 21 72 27 D +24
Washington 561,703 100% 60 38 53 47 D +7

This district more than any other resembles its old form, only much more compressed to account for Washington County’s 17.3% growth between 2000 and 2007. This OR-01 is still based in the west Portland suburbs, including all of Washington County. The major difference is that it’s had to lose all of the exburban and coastal areas of the old district, and instead picks up more of the city itself. While the old district only extended far enough into the city to conveniently incorporate the neighborhood of a certain Representative David Wu, this district includes all of Portland’s southwest corner up to the Columbia River, including the outlying gentrified areas bordering Washington County, inward to the downtown core. I also put in most of Lloyd Center from just across the river to make my totals even, and added the tiny (and statistically negligible) bit of the city of Tualatin that’s technically in Clackamas County.

Overall, this already safe district picks up even more friendly territory. As an added bonus, there’s basically no GOP bench here at all. I could only find three current Republican officeholders in the whole of Washington County, and they’d all be hard-pressed to get over 40% in a general election. By contrast, the Democratic bench in addition to Wu is ridiculously strong, including State Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, State House Majority Leader Mary Nolan, State Rep. David Edwards, 8 other state legislators, and pretty much anyone else who wants to run as a Democrat. I would hope that one of them would primary the frankly unimpressive Wu, but unfortunately that probably won’t happen Either way, Wu is now completely safe from the already improbable chance of losing his seat to a Republican, and if Wu can hold this seat as is, his almost certainly more competent successor will be even safer. Safe D.

OR-02 (incumbent Earl Blumenauer, D):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Clackamas 116,118 29% 54 44 49 50 D +1
Multnomah 432,534 60% 77 21 72 27 D +24
Yamhill 102,028 100% 48 49 42 57 R +6

Like the old OR-03 on which it’s based, this district’s core is in Portland, encompassing most of the city not in Wu’s district. The 2002 Republican gerrymander packed as much Democratic territory into this district as possible in a failed attempt to knock off Darlene Hooley. With Hooley’s retirement giving me access to some choice Republican suburbs (including her hometown of West Linn) I took this one in the other direction.

This district retains the north side of Portland and all of the east side except for a couple of neighborhoods on the Gresham line. It then leaves the rest of Multnomah County to Schrader, and dips down to vacuum up all of Clackamas County west/north of I-205. This includes some reliably Democratic areas (Milwaukie, Gladstone), but it also incorporates the wealthy, extremely Republican towns of West Linn and Lake Oswego. From there, I went southwest to the less Republican but still pretty annoying suburb of Wilsonville, then finished up with all of exburban, R +6 Yamhill County. Overall, I’ve created a district that will be Democratic enough to keep electing Blumenauer, while diluting Portland’s more Republican suburbs as much as possible.

With the addition of West Linn and Lake Oswego, this district picks up about a third of the old OR-05’s unusually large Republican bench, though the Lake Oswego/West Linn portion of this bench is mostly has-beens. There’s OR-05 loser Jim Zupancic and super-loser Mike Erickson, as well as State Rep. Scott Bruun, who lost the OR-03 Republican primary in 1996 and lost again to Blumenauer two years later. There are only two other Republican state legislators in the entire district, neither of whom is viable. Other than the fact that Lake Oswego and West Linn could spawn any number of self-funding multimillionaire wannabe jerks just like Zupancic and Erickson, there’s really not a lot going on here on the GOP side. By contrast, the Democrats have 10 state legislators alone, and, of course, House Transportation Committee Chair Blumenauer – now the most powerful member of the Oregon delegation – isn’t going anywhere. Safe D

OR-03 (incumbent Kurt Schrader, D):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Clackamas 276,893 71% 54 44 49 50 D +1
Hood River 21,424 100% 64 33 57 42 D +10
Marion 101,191 31% 50 47 45 54 R +2
Multnomah 200,721 28% 77 21 72 27 D +24
Polk 26,490 32% 48 49 44 55 R +4
Wasco 23691 100% 52 45 48 51 R +0

Of course, this district needed a complete redrawing, partially due to 2002 Republican mischief and partially due to the legislative consensus in 1983 that it was supposed to elect a Republican. With the Oregon GOP out of power and West Linn resident Darlene Hooley gone, this district can become a whole lot safer to protect Schrader.

The new district remains centered in Clackamas County and the eastern Portland suburbs, only without Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Wilsonville to weigh it down. It instead picks up the remainder of Portland, as well as Gresham, Troutdale, and the rest of eastern Multnomah County. It continues east along the Columbia River to take in solidly Democratic Hood River and R +0 Wasco counties, and also goes south to include most of upper Marion county down to Salem, as well as the West Salem neighborhood of Polk County. Overall, this is much friendlier territory than Hooley was used to representing. With Hood River and the bluest part of D +24 Multnomah counties compensating for Schrader’s lack of seniority and with Clackamas and Wasco counties rapidly bluing, there’s plenty of room to grow here.

This all, of course, is assuming that Schrader doesn’t lose his current, much less favorable district in 2010 (and really, if he does an even halfway decent job, he’ll be fine). Should Schrader be defeated, however, the Democratic bench in this new district is strong, including State Senate President Peter Courtney, Deputy Senate President Laurie Monnes Anderson, Senate President Pro Tem Rick Metsger, and House Speaker Dave Hunt, as well as seven other viable legislators (not counting Schrader’s wife). The GOP also isn’t short on potential candidates, including State Senators Vicki Berger, Vic Gilliam, Bill Kennemer, and Kim Thatcher, as well as disgraced former House Republican leader Wayne Scott and even more disgraced former Speaker Karen Minnis. The good news is that while almost all of them (except for Minnis and maybe Scott) would’ve been viable in the old OR-05, none of them have any special qualities that make them particularly likely to be elected in this new, more Democratic district. We can chalk this one up for Team Blue. Safe D

OR-04 (new district, no incumbent):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Benton 81,917 100% 64 33 58 41 D +10
Clatsop 39,979 100% 58 39 55 44 D +6
Columbia 51,642 100% 54 42 51 48 D +3
Jefferson 10088 47% 44 53 40 59 R +8
Lincoln 45491 100% 60 37 57 42 D +8
Linn 118021 100% 43 54 38 60 R +9
Marion 222405 69% 50 47 45 54 R +2
Polk 55,549 68% 48 49 44 55 R +4
Tillamook 25,138 100% 53 43 49 50 D +0

Having accomplished my goal of making all three Portland-area districts Safe D, and wanting to keep Lane County (Eugene) whole to shore up Peter DeFazio, there wasn’t a lot of friendly territory left that wasn’t spoken for. I had to start with a major population center, and chose R +2 Salem, which is growing so quickly that it’s temporarily surpassed Eugene as the state’s second-largest city several times in the last decade. The problem is that, while modestly Republican on paper, in practice Salem is the crazy fundie capital of Oregon. I therefore decided to pit the fundies against a different segment of the GOP base by drawing in R +9 Linn County (Albany) to get it away from DeFazio. With these two population centers established, I packed in every bit of Democratic territory that wasn’t already spoken for, including the coastal Lincoln and Clatsop counties, the D-leaning Portland exburbs of Columbia County, and Benton County, home of Oregon State University. I also grabbed some of rural, R +8 Jefferson County to the east to meet my population quota.

This district on paper looks like it will elect a Republican, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did at first. The Republican bench here is strong, including State Senators Brian Boquist, Fred Girod and Jackie Winters, as well as five other Republican state legislators. It also includes Oregon fundie leader and perennial political loser Kevin Mannix, last seen kneecapping Mike Erickson in the 2008 OR-05 primary. As the Oregon GOP is at its lowest point since 1864, a brand new, Republican-leaning Congressional seat is going to cause every kook in the district to throw their hats in at once. My hope is that, with so much desperation to advance their careers and with Mannix and his network of loyal sheep followers kneecapping everyone else, the GOP candidates will all annihilate each other. Meanwhile, though the Democratic bench in this district is very sparse, one name that stands out is State Rep. Brian Clem. Clem represents Salem, giving him instant name-rec with most of the district’s swing voters. He’s young, relatively progressive, grew up in a Republican town, and seems pretty likeable, giving him lots of crossover appeal. He’s the only viable Dem I could find here, but, on the bright side, if he runs he’s probably got the primary field to himself while the GOP candidates all nuke each other. Lean R for now, but circumstances might make this a D seat anyway.

OR-05 (incumbent Peter DeFazio, D):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Coos 63,600 100% 47 50 43 55 R +4
Curry 21767 100% 42 54 41 58 R +8
Deschutes 175592 100% 49 49 42 57 R +4
Douglas 5,000 5% 38 58 33 66 R +14
Jackson 29369 14% 49 49 44 56 R +4
Josephine 3,000 4% 41 55 36 63 R +10
Lane 352,868 100% 62 35 48 44 D +9

Though the 2002 Republican gerrymander was, of course, worst in Schrader’s district, the legislature also made a pretty obvious effort to screw DeFazio by packing in more Republican territory here while swapping out some D/swing territory into Walden’s district. Though the joke was, again, on them, DeFazio won’t be around forever (he’s currently thinking about running for Governor), and the current district will be hard for any Democratic successor to hold. I decided to soften it up as much as I could with the friendly/swing territory I had left under the assumption that, after waiting 20 years for his subcommittee gavel, DeFazio will stay in Congress.

This district has two population centers – Lane County, which remains in its entirety, and Deschutes County, which comes in from Walden’s old district. At D +9 and accounting for over half of the district’s population, Lane County is the obvious place to start. Deschutes County, meanwhile, is the fastest growing county in the state, having expanded a whopping 33% between 2000 and 2007. This is because Bend has become a trendy resort/retirement town and is filling up with liberals – mostly Portland transplants who bring their politics with them – faster than you can say “gerrymander”. In just four years, Deschutes County went from 57-42 Bush to 49-49 McCain, and will probably be narrowly blue by 2013 if the current trend holds. Not putting it into this district would be nuts.

With the base established, the rest of the district was pretty much just filler, focusing on drawing in the least unfriendly territory that I could. While the old district incorporated all of R +14 Douglas County, this one follows Highway 101 through a tiny, sparsely populated sliver to get to much friendlier R +4 Coos County. Continuing along 101, the district picks up R +8 but small Curry County. It then runs parallel to the California border, picking up another sparsely populated part of R +10 Josephine County to get to Ashland, the last liberal town in the entire state left unaccounted for. Going north, I finished up by taking the remainder of my quota from Republican-leaning Medford, the only place in this part of the state with any notable population at all.

Overall, the Democratic bench in this district is strong, though disproportionately concentrated in Eugene. (Due to its reputation as a hippie bastion, most Eugene legislators would be DOA trying to appeal to the retirees and timber workers who make up the rest of the district’s population.) The strongest contender for a vacancy that I found would probably be House Speaker pro tem Arnie Roblan from Coos Bay, who has DeFazio’s populist bona fides but is unlikely to want to move up. Rep. Chris Edwards of Eugene is more of a wildcard and will have a harder time selling himself, but he’s young enough to be ambitious and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for higher office at some point. Also in the district are eight other Democratic State Reps. and six State Senators. By contrast, there are only two Republican legislators in the entire new district, neither of whom seems to be particularly distinguished. As drawn here, this seat will remain Democratic indefinitely. Safe D.

OR-06 (no incumbent, formerly Greg Walden, R):

County Pop. In District % In District O M K B PVI
Baker 14,809 100% 32 64 29 70 R +19
Crook 24830 100% 35 62 30 68 R +17
Douglas 5,000 95% 38 58 33 66 R +14
Gilliam 1605 100% 39 58 33 67 R +19
Grant 6510 100% 26 71 19 79 R +27
Harney 6442 100% 26 70 23 76 R +25
Jackson 178296 86% 49 49 44 56 R +4
Jefferson 11406 53% 44 53 40 59 R +8
Josephine 80,488 96% 41 55 36 63 R +10
Klamath 66911 100% 32 65 26 72 R +20
Lake 7233 100% 26 72 21 78 R +27
Malehur 30,948 100% 28 69 24 75 R +24
Morrow 11669 100% 35 62 33 66 R +16
Sherman 1586 100% 37 61 35 63 R +16
Umatilla 74,814 100% 37 60 34 65 R +14
Union 25,644 100% 37 60 33 66 R +15
Wallowa 6577 100% 33 64 33 66 R +14
Wheeler 1338 100% 25 61 28 70 R +17

The token Republican super-district based on the old OR-02, this district packs in everything that’s left. Naturally, it’s as Republican as they come, with an estimated PVI of about R +18. Note that my population totals here are slightly off, but as it’s only by 652 and re-checking my math several times (even adjusting by 652) yielded the same result, I decided not to worry about it, as I’m not getting paid for this.

You’ll also notice that I don’t list Greg Walden as the incumbent, as he would be ineligible to run in this district. Why? Walden lives in Hood River, which I put into Schrader’s district. Why the Congressman for Oregon’s sole Republican district lives in one of the most Democratic counties in the state I have no idea, but frankly, I didn’t think there was much point in wasting a D +10 county here when it could be better used to help Schrader. Meanwhile, Walden has been chafing in the minority and has actively expressed interest in running for Governor. If he goes that route in 2010, his successor will most certainly be from somewhere that’s still in this district. Even if he sticks around in 2010, he’ll probably find something else to do by 2012. Either way, I’m assuming no Walden by then because his staying put royally screws up my map.

Of course, with or without Walden, this district will still elect a Republican. Its bench of viable GOP candidates is absolutely huge, including Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferroli, House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, and State Senator and perennial nutjob candidate Jason Atkinson. The district is also the home of 3 other GOP State Senators and 9 other State Representatives, any of whom could want a promotion. Finally, former US Senator Gordon Smith also lives here. Smith, of course, is most likely saving himself for his 2014 grudge match against Jeff Merkley, but has the gravitas to play kingmaker in this race if he wants to. For all of his troubles in the rest of the state, eastern Oregon still loves them some Gordo, and whoever he gives his backing to will probably win the primary. Either that, or he runs for the seat himself, wins in a landslide, and keeps it for life, along with automatically becoming the most senior freshman Republican in his class thanks to his 12 years in the Senate. The good news is that either way, Smith is likely to help either himself or one of his golfing buddies over an anti-establishment nut like Atkinson. Where “more and better Democrats” just isn’t possible, saner Republicans will have to do. Smith’s crowd may be sleazy and disingenuous, but at least they’re not insane. Safe R


Overall, I think almost everyone can be happy with this map. Democrats will be happy with the new 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th districts. If Republicans can get over losing all hope at ever knocking off Schrader, they’ll get a brand new, much more favorable district with a strong GOP bench to the south, though it will also come with a built-in Kevin Mannix, and will only be Republican for the next decade or so. Bend and Ashland will be happy because they no longer have to be represented by a Republican, while Albany and most of Salem will be happy because they’re likely to be represented by someone more conservative. The biggest losers from this map are West Linn and Lake Oswego, which are increasingly drowning in a sea of blue. Given my personal experience with most of the people who live in those towns, I’m hardly sympathetic. Meanwhile, the only Democrats who might be missing out are the solidly Democratic but sparsely populated coastal regions, which may very well end up saddled with some awful Republican from Albany or Salem. On the other hand, they could still end up with a Democrat if the GOP candidates all nuke each other, and they wouldn’t be Republicans if they didn’t.

I think that in keeping with my knowledge of Oregon and realistic political and geographical considerations, this is a good map that accomplished everything I set out to do. If I’m unhappy with one district, it’s the new OR-04, mostly because it includes Linn County. If I were going tweak this again, I might try including all of Jefferson County in OR-04, swapping out parts of southern Linn County into OR-05, and leaving the entire city of Medford to OR-06; either way, though, it wouldn’t make much of a difference in PVI, so I haven’t tried it here.

If you’ve made it through the whole of this (incredibly long) post, feel free to offer feedback.