Final SSP House Race Ratings

Our final House race ratings chart of the cycle:

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
AZ-01 (Open)
AZ-08 (Giffords)
CT-05 (Murphy)
IL-14 (Foster)
IN-09 (Hill)
KS-03 (Moore)
KY-03 (Yarmuth)
MN-01 (Walz)
MS-01 (Childers)

NY-25 (Open)
OR-05 (Open)
PA-04 (Altmire)
PA-08 (Murphy)
TX-23 (Rodriguez)
AK-AL (Young)
AL-05 (Open)
AZ-05 (Mitchell)
CA-11 (McNerney)

CO-04 (Musgrave)
FL-24 (Feeney)

GA-08 (Marshall)

KS-02 (Boyda)

IL-11 (Open)
MI-09 (Knollenberg)

NH-01 (Shea-Porter)
NC-08 (Hayes)
NM-01 (Open)

NY-20 (Gillibrand)
NY-29 (Kuhl)
OH-15 (Open)
OH-16 (Open)

PA-10 (Carney)
PA-12 (Murtha)

VA-11 (Open)
WI-08 (Kagen)

CA-04 (Open)
CT-04 (Shays)
FL-08 (Keller)
FL-21 (L. Diaz-Balart)
FL-25 (M. Diaz-Balart)
ID-01 (Sali)

IL-10 (Kirk)
IN-03 (Souder)
LA-04 (Open)

LA-06 (Cazayoux)
MD-01 (Open)
MI-07 (Walberg)
MN-03 (Open)
MN-06 (Bachmann)
MO-09 (Open)
NE-02 (Terry)
NJ-03 (Open)
NJ-07 (Open)
NM-02 (Open)
NV-03 (Porter)
OH-01 (Chabot)
PA-03 (English)

PA-11 (Kanjorski)
TX-22 (Lampson)

WA-08 (Reichert)
AL-02 (Open)
AZ-03 (Shadegg)

KY-02 (Open)
NJ-05 (Garrett)
NV-02 (Heller)
NY-26 (Open)
OH-02 (Schmidt)
SC-01 (Brown)
TX-10 (McCaul)
VA-02 (Drake)
VA-05 (Goode)
WV-02 (Capito)
WY-AL (Open)

AL-03 (Rogers)
CA-46 (Rohrabacher)
CA-50 (Bilbray)
FL-13 (Buchanan)
FL-16 (Mahoney)

FL-18 (Ros-Lehtinen)
IA-04 (Latham)
LA-01 (Scalise)
LA-07 (Boustany)
MO-06 (Graves)
NC-05 (Foxx)
NC-10 (McHenry)
OH-07 (Open)
PA-15 (Dent)
TX-07 (Culberson)
VA-10 (Wolf)
12 D, 2 R
10 D, 11 R
3 D, 22 R
13 R
1 D, 15 R

Safe D:

     NY-13 (Open)

Races to Watch:

CA-03 (Lungren) IA-05 (King) KS-04 (Tiahrt) OK-01 (Sullivan)
CA-26 (Dreier) IL-06 (Roskam) MD-06 (Bartlett) PA-05 (Open)
CA-45 (B. Mack) IL-13 (Biggert) MN-02 (Kline) PA-06 (Gerlach)
GA-06 (Price) IL-18 (Open) NJ-04 (Smith) PA-18 (Murphy)
GA-13 (Scott) IN-04 (Buyer) OH-03 (Turner) SC-02 (Wilson)

Things have changed — a lot — since our first entry back in March.

SSP House Race Ratings Changes: 11/03

(DavidNYC and Crisitunity contributed to the writing of this post.)

  • NC-08 (Hayes): Tossup to Lean Democratic

    We here at SSP were skeptical of Larry Kissell’s rematch bid for a long while, in large part because he seemed to be denying himself a chance to be competitive due to his lackluster fundraising. (We never bought the “I’m not from a wealthy district” excuse – just check out Eric Massa’s fundraising.) Yet he finally stepped it up in the third quarter, and then three polls in a row showed him with a lead.

    More importantly, the DCCC jumped in in a big way. In fact, no district has seen a bigger disparity in party committee spending – about $2.5 million to zero. Indeed, it seems that the NRCC has given up on sad-sack Robin Hayes, putting Kissell in a commanding position to finish off the Republican once and for all. (David)

  • NE-02 (Terry): Lean Republican to Tossup

    There’s no question that the momentum lies with the Democrats in this Omaha-based CD. For the first time since 1994 (the last year that this district had Democratic representation), Dems have built up a voter registration lead in Douglas County (which makes up over 80% of the district’s population). Esch has been aided significantly by the efforts of the Obama campaign, which has an aggressive field campaign in place here to steal the district’s electoral vote from John McCain, as well as the DCCC, which has backed Esch up with over $750,000 in independent expenditures in the past few weeks.

    Terry only led Esch by a single point in the most recently-released poll of this district, and the DC scuttlebutt indicates that Terry is only clinging to a small lead in his own polling. That might have been enough to hold on in other years, but no incumbent under 50% and feeling their challenger’s breath on the back of their neck can be considered especially favored, especially with uncertainties surrounding the turnout of a newly-energized pool of African-American voters in this district. This one should be be close. (James)

  • TX-10 (McCaul): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    The DCCC hasn’t jumped in with guns blazing in this district, but there’s still reason for optimism in this R+13 district that wanders all the way from the Houston suburbs to Austin suburbs. Polling shows former TV judge Larry Joe Doherty within arm’s length of incument Mike McCaul, including a recent R2K poll with Doherty down by just 4. McCaul’s fundraising has been lackluster, and he’s been nervous about early voting patterns in this district. This is also a district that has changed dramatically even since 2004; population-wise, it’s the fastest-growing district in Texas and most of that growth is non-white. McCaul still has to be favored to pull it out, but Doherty is poised for an upset. (Crisitunity)

    Our full ratings chart is available here.

  • SSP House Ratings Changes: 11/2

    (DavidNYC and Crisitunity contributed to the writing of this post.)

  • AK-AL (Young): Tossup to Lean Democratic

    While we’ve been very high on this race for a long, long time, we’ve always been aware that this is Alaska, and Don Young has seldom been threatened since he first captured this seat in the early 1970s. But lately, The Donald seems to get less and less popular with each passing year, and this cycle is no exception. Young has never lead in a single poll released since 2007, which is pretty remarkable. counts sixteen polls showing Young trailing, and while the man has come from behind before, he hasn’t done so in a time of extraordinary change in Alaska’s political culture — Ted Stevens is set to go to jail, and voters seem poised to give the boot to a beloved Senator. It seems hard to believe that they’ll stick with a Representative under FBI investigation whom many dislike.

    Yes, Young overcame tough odds to win his primary, but only barely — and that was after one of the most inept campaigns ever witnessed by Sean Parnell and the Club For Growth. While I do not believe that Democrat Ethan Berkowitz will win this race by a large margin, a Young victory on Tuesday would have to be considered a surprise. (James)

  • IN-03 (Souder): Lean Republican to Tossup

    A 14-year Republican incumbent in an R+16 district in a dark-red state shouldn’t have much trouble getting reelected, even in today’s climate. But Mark Souder just keeps making it possible, with his apparently lukewarm approach to fundraising and campaigning. In 2006, he won by only 54-46 over Fort Wayne city councilor Tom Hayhurst; the DCCC smelled a missed opportunity here and, once attorney Mike Montagano showed some promise, the money spigots opened. The district’s lean and the NRCC’s furious defense may save Souder’s butt once again, but given Montagano’s strong polling (including an honest-to-gosh 3-point lead in a public poll) and the likely best Democratic presidential performance in Indiana in more than 40 years, it’s even tougher this year. (Crisitunity)

  • MO-06 (Graves): Lean Republican to Likely Republican

    For a long while, this looked like it was going to be a top-tier barnburner of a race. Kay Barnes, the former mayor of Kansas City, was one of the DCCC’s first and most highly-touted recruits in 2007. The problem, though, is that much of the 6th District lies outside of metropolitan Kansas City, and GOP Rep. Sam Graves wasted no time in painting her as a big city liberal with “San Francisco values”. The bullshit either worked, or Graves’ campaign just never took off, because recent public polling has Graves opening up an 18-point lead over Barnes. Private polling is also pessimistic. (J)

  • MO-09 (Open): Lean Republican to Tossup

    When Kenny Hulshof retired from this seat to become gubernatorial roadkill, lots of Democrats saw some potential here… but who would have anticipated that this race, and not the highly touted MO-06, would be the one that turned into a Tossup as we entered the home stretch? It’s a combination of a particularly scrappy Dem candidate, state representative Judy Baker, with a strong base in the district’s major population center (Columbia), plus a rather bland GOPer in Blaine Luetkemeyer who emerged depleted from a bitter primary against a Club for Growth pod person (and has tapped into his own money to stay competitive). Baker has trailed in single digits in public polling (down 5 in R2K last week), and has led by as much as 4 in her own internals. The GOP probably has the natural edge in this rural R+7 district, but Baker has made a real race out of this. (C)

  • NC-05 (Foxx): Safe Republican to Likely Republican

    This race has flown under the radar all cycle, but we’ve decided that if there was one GOP-held seat that wasn’t on our competitive races list that has the very small possibility of not just being close but scraping out an upset, this is it. Virginia Foxx (something of a non-fictional version of Dana Carvey’s Church Lady) has, in her elections, underperformed this district’s dark-red R+15 inclinations, and Roy Carter, a well-known high school football coach, is a popular figure. A PPP poll from September showed Foxx up by only 2 (with an earlier PPP poll giving her a 10-pt. edge); at the time, it seemed fluky, but given Democratic strengths this year in North Carolina, even in the whiter areas (like this mountain district), who knows? (C)

  • NJ-05 (Garrett): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    This expensive, Republican-leaning district on New Jersey’s northern border was always going to be a tough nut to crack. But it looks like rabbi & psychologist Dennis Shulman has closed a lot of ground with uber-wingnut Scott Garrett and could be poised to deliver an upset. Shulman, a first-time candidate, has raised almost a million bucks and just got a dose of help from the DCCC.

    He’s also gotten under Garrett’s skin, prompting shrill freak-outs and bizarre attacks. The only public polls of this race (by R2K) showed nice momentum for Shulman, while Garrett dangled below 50. It would still be an upset if Shulman were to win here, but a Dem victory now looks much more possible than at any time in the past. (David)

  • SC-01 (Brown): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    This race has moved hard and fast. We moved it to Likely R just a couple of weeks ago, and now we’re bumping it to Lean R. It seems that Rep. Henry Brown, Jr. never imagined he’d face a competitive race, and when he got one, he was utterly unprepared for the challenge. Maybe this isn’t so surprising: After all, Brown was so indignant about being prosecuted for burning down twenty acres of a national forest that he had the law changed so that acts like his would no longer be considered crimes. It’s not hard to imagine a schmuck like this growing entitled and complacent.

    Since our last ratings adjustment, we’ve seen two polls which confirm Brown’s precarious position, even in this R+10 district. R2K showed him under 50, while SUSA gave him just a five-point lead. Dem Linda Ketner is a wealthy heiress (her father created the Food Lion chain of supermarkets) and has spent $700K of her own money on this race, addition to raising a million bucks the hard way. She could very well rock the political world come Tuesday. (D)

  • SSP House Race Ratings Changes: 11/01

    (DavidNYC and Crisitunity contributed to the writing of this post.)

    We made these changes on Wednesday, but haven’t had the chance to post our write-ups until now. Look for more write-ups on last night’s moves (as well as more ratings changes) to follow shortly.

  • CO-04 (Musgrave): Tossup to Lean Democratic

    You have to reach back a long time to find a publicly-released poll where GOP Rep. Marilyn Musgrave had a lead over Democrat Betsy Markey. In fact, the last and only such poll was a Musgrave internal from March. While it’s tempting to keep an R+8 district like this in the tossup column, Musgrave has been getting utterly pasted both by the DCCC and the Defenders of Wildlife, while the NRCC has canceled most of its media buys for this race. A recent Musgrave TV ad claiming that Markey was headed for jail struck us, and other observers, as a desperate move. At this point, with Colorado on the verge of turning blue and faced with a well-funded and relentless campaign against her, we would consider a Musgrave victory to be something of a surprise. (James)

  • MD-01 (Open): Lean Republican to Tossup

    It’s a testament to just how bad this year is for Republicans that we can no longer give them a clear edge in this R+10 open seat race. Every publicly-released poll since September has shown this race to be within the margin of error, and Democrat Frank Kratovil has deftly run a campaign playing up his Eastern Shore roots (in contrast to Harris’s base in the western edge of the district). The DCCC has spent over $1.8 million on this race, putting Harris at a net cash disadvantage. While a Kratovil win here would still be a remarkable feat, we can no longer comfortably give Harris a clear edge. (J)

  • MI-09 (Knollenberg): Tossup to Lean Democratic

    Nowhere is the Republicans’ collapse more pronounced than Michigan, where the McCain camp, great poker players that they are, publicly threw in the towel, leaving the local GOP to flail around on their own. Even before the economic collapse (and the McCain collapse), this Dem-trending D+0 district in the Detroit suburbs looked to present a challenge for Joe Knollenberg, who almost lost a surprisingly close race to a low-profile candidate in 2006 and now faced his biggest challenge yet in former state senator and lottery commissioner Gary Peters. Post-collapse, Peters has reeled off one unanswered internal poll victory after another, culminating in a 10-point lead last week. (Crisitunity)

  • NY-29 (Kuhl): Tossup to Lean Democratic

    What does Randy Kuhl have going for him? Not the polls: he’s been down by 7 points to Democratic challenger Eric Massa in both the public polls of this race. Not likeability: his favorables clock in at 33-44. Certainly not fundraising: he’s lagged Massa in both 1Q and 3Q and ended 3Q with less CoH than Massa. I suppose he can rely on the district’s R+5 lean… except those two polls both showed Obama leading in this rural upstate New York district. Throw in nagging retirement rumors and now a big gaffe (Suffer-gate), and the math just doesn’t add up for Kuhl. (C)

  • VA-05 (Goode): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    Public and private polls both show Democratic attorney Tom Perriello closing in on Virgil Goode in this tough R+6 district, and the DCCC has stepped up with over $700,000 in late-breaking expenditures on his behalf.

    Goode has taken to the airwaves to hit Perriello over social wedge issues and his time spent outside the district, and that might carry some weight, but probably not as much as it would have in past years. Sensing danger, the NRCC has responded with its own attacks against Perriello. While Goode still has to be considered favored here, it will likely be his closest race in quite some time — and an upset itself cannot be ruled out. (J)

  • WY-AL (Open): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    Democrat Gary Trauner’s done everything right in this R+19 district (formerly Dick Cheney’s seat) – run an aggressive campaign, raised a lot of money, won over the right people (including an endorsement from the notoriously non-partisan Dem Gov. Dave Freudenthal). The problem is that with the departure of Barbara Cubin (a western Jean Schmidt), all that may not be enough. Several polls have showed a tied race here, but we’ve got to believe that the bulk of those undecideds will come home for the Republican, Cynthia Lummis. Still, the DCCC has spent heavily here (over $800K, a ton in this super-cheap media market), and Trauner has a shot here. (David)

  • WV-02 (Capito): Likely Republican to Lean Republican

    There was no question Obama suffered from an “Appalachia problem” in the primaries, a key factor which led SSP to conclude that Democrat Anne Barth would face a seriously uphill climb in this district. And that’s on top of everything else staring Barth down in WV-02: A pretty popular long-term incumbent (with a famous name), a conservative lean to the region, and a late start. (Barth was a last-minute replacement.)

    But now, Obama is polling far better here than we originally imagined he might, suggesting that WV still believes in its ancestral Democratic roots. He almost certainly won’t win the state, but his Pollster average is on par with Kerry’s take, and many individual polls have shown the race here closer. And Barth, who has raised pretty well herself, has seen a late infusion of about half a mil from the DCCC. Shelley Moore Capito only got 57% against an underfunded challenger in 2006; she’s still the favorite to hang on, but she could very well lose this time. (D)

  • SSP Changes Ratings on Seven Races

    The Swing State Project is changing its ratings on the following races:

    • AK-AL: Tossup to Lean D

    • IN-03: Lean R to Tossup

    • MO-06: Lean R to Likely R

    • MO-09: Lean R to Tossup

    • NC-05: Safe R to Likely R

    • NJ-05: Likely R to Lean R

    • SC-01: Likely R to Lean R

    We have also moved PA-18 back onto our “Races to Watch” list. Look for write-ups to follow shortly. Our full House chart is available here.

    PA-12: NRCC Makes Major Buy Against Murtha

    The NRCC has just filed a $465,000 TV buy against Democratic Rep. John Murtha.

    That ain’t chump change. Could we really see an upset here on Tuesday?

    UPDATE: SSP is changing our rating of this race from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic.

    LATER UPDATE: The DCCC has responded with a $450K blast of their own.

    PA-12: Another Close Republican Poll; SSP Moves to “Likely D”

    Dane & Associates for Glen Meakem (10/27-28, ‘probable’ voters, 10/13-14 in parens):

    Jack Murtha (D-inc): 46

    William Russell (R): 44

    (MoE: ±3.9%)

    Here’s the takeaway: don’t call your constituents ‘racists.’ Jack Murtha is an institution in this D+5 district (he’s the one of only two sitting congress members to have the local airport named after him… the other one, of course, is Ted Stevens). Institution status notwithstanding, though, we’re starting to see a pattern here in his post-gaffe environment… as much as these GOP internal polls individually seem ticky-tacky, they’re accumulating and it’s troubling that Murtha hasn’t responded in kind. With the DCCC and NRCC (as well as right-wing Vets for Freedom) jumping in with last minute ad buys, and with Murtha making a pitch for money to Move On members, we at SSP feel there’s enough cause for concern here to downgrade this race to “Likely Democratic.”

    Remember that William Russell is one of the ‘defrauder’ candidates raising funds through shadowy direct mail firm BMW Direct. Josh Marshall returned to this story yesterday, finding that Russell is actually pocketing a fair bit of money ($1.1 million, out of $2.5 million raised) even after paying for BMW’s unusually large fees. That $1.1 million is still much less than the $2 million that Murtha has spent, though.

    As for the other bit players in this story, Dane & Associates is a Las Vegas-based automated pollster who, as best as I can tell from a quick Google of the tubes, has never made public any of its polls prior to this race. This poll was made public through, a right-wing state blog that seems to aspire to be a local version of Drudge, based on its firehose-spew of news items and atrocious design sensibilities. The guy who actually paid for it, Glen Meakem, seems to be a Pittsburgh-area internet rich guy with his own Republican political aspirations, at least according to this puff piece from the right-leaning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    SSP Changes Ratings on Seven Races

    The Swing State Project is changing its ratings on seven House races:

    • CO-04 (Musgrave): Tossup to Lean D
    • MD-01 (Open): Lean R to Tossup
    • MI-09 (Knollenberg): Tossup to Lean D
    • NY-29 (Kuhl): Tossup to Lean D
    • VA-05 (Goode): Likely R to Lean R
    • WV-02 (Capito): Likely R to Lean R
    • WY-AL (Open): Likely R to Lean R

    We’re also adding GA-13 to our “Races to Watch” list. Look for write-ups to follow soon, and possibly more ratings updates in the coming days. Our full ratings chart is available here.

    SSP House Race Ratings Changes: 10/27

    (DavidNYC and Crisitunity contributed to the writing of this post.)

    We made these changes on Friday night, but haven’t had the opportunity to post our full write-ups until now. Here goes:

  • AZ-01 (Open): Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
  • Essentially, Republicans ceded this race the moment that former Arizona state Senate President Ken Bennett declined to run for the open seat of “retiring” GOP Rep. Rick Renzi. In his place, Republicans are running Arizona Mining Association President Sydney Hay, a truly D-grade candidate whose sharply right-wing views would make Randy Graf smile with pride. Most starkly, Hay has only raised $363,000 compared to Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s $1.68 million. With the DCCC spending liberally against Hay, the end result is poised to look ugly for the GOP here. (James L.)

  • AZ-08 (Giffords): Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
  • This is a case of good candidate, wrong year for the Republicans: they convinced state senate president Tim Bee to run against freshman Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in this R+1 district. Bee came in with something of a moderate image, but that was frittered away through a public tussle with Jim Kolbe, the Republican occupant of this seat prior to Giffords (probably over Bee’s support for a gay marriage amendment to the Arizona constitution) and having to have a Bush visit to help with fundraising.

    In a normal year, the GOP could have made a strong race of it, even with these few unforced errors. Given the broader trends this year, though, and the GOP’s more pressing problems on defense, Bee simply got washed away… and acknowledging their chances, the NRCC just pulled out of this race. (Crisitunity)

  • CA-04 (Open): Lean Republican to Tossup
  • Hopes have been high for Charlie Brown’s second run at this seat in the Sacramento suburbs, after he narrowly lost to corrupt John Doolittle in 2006. Unfortunately (for Brown’s chances), Doolittle subsequently retired, meaning that Brown would instead be running in 2008 against ‘generic R’ in a dark-red R+11 district.

    Fortunately for Brown, though, ‘generic R’ didn’t show up, and instead he found himself running against ‘conservative icon’ Tom McClintock, who between his name-recognition and access to money was supposed to have been a formidable opponent may just be too laughable and over-the-top even for this district. First off, McClintock is from southern California and hasn’t bothered moving to the district yet. He seems to have little intention of unpacking his bags even if he wins, as he’s keeping various accounts for 2010 statewide offices open.

    Things just haven’t gelled for McClintock; not only has he trailed Brown in all polls except his own internals, but he’s almost out of money, as he finished the third quarter with only $94,000 cash on hand. The district lean here should disqualify a Democrat from picking up this seat, but by any objective measure, Brown is poised to be able to do it. (C)

  • FL-16 (Mahoney): Lean Republican to Likely Republican
  • This is an ugly, awful race with an ugly, awful candidate on the Dem line who really ought to spare himself, his family, his constituents, and his nominal party a whole lot of embarrassment by resigning. We’ll have a shot here again in the future.

    One point I’d like to make in passing, though, is that if Dave Lutrin, who was a short-lived primary opponent of Mahoney’s back in 2006, thought his cause was just, he should never have dropped out. I’m really tired of claims that Rahm Emanuel somehow “pushed” Lutrin out of the race.

    This isn’t a third-world country. His family wasn’t threatened. In America, if you want to run for office, you run. Some people might make things difficult for you, but that’s called politics. And we also have excellent proof that such a course of action by no means has to be quixotic – just look at Reps. Jerry McNerney and Carol Shea-Porter. In other words, there’s no excuse for giving up just because Rahm allegedly likes someone else better than you. (David)

  • FL-24 (Feeney): Tossup to Lean Democratic
  • Who would have ever thought that the first Republican incumbent to fall off the cliff and into the no-man’s land of “Lean Dem” would be someone other than Don Young? Tom Feeney was one of the few representatives tarred with the brush of Abramoff to survive 2006 and then decide to try again in 2008. Until recently, however, with Jack Abramoff disappearing in the rear-view mirror and Feeney safely ensconced in an R+3 district that he designed for himself while in the state legislature, it looked like he was going to skate through.

    As Republican fortunes in general started to dwindle this summer, though, Feeney found former state representative Suzanne Kosmas gaining on him. So, he did exactly what any rational politican would do… he issued an ad reminding everyone of his involvement in the Abramoff affair and begging forgiveness for it. Wait… what? That’s not what a rational politician would do? Hmmm.

    From that point on, everything seemed to go haywire for Feeney, and another Kosmas internal from last week gave her a head-spinning 58-35 lead over Feeney. This week would have been the time for Feeney to issue his own internal as a rebuttal… and his silence on the matter is extremely telling. Even in a good year for Republicans, this would be a difficult hole for Feeney to climb out of, but this year, it’d be nearly impossible. (C)

  • FL-25 (M. Diaz-Balart): Lean Republican to Tossup
  • This one is all about demographics. What was once a Cuban-American GOP stronghold has turned into a pure tossup district, at least according to the latest voter registration numbers. Recent polling shows Diaz-Balart up by only three points and well below 50%, and the DCCC is spending heavily against both Diaz-Balart brothers (while the NRCC has been focusing solely on protecting Lincoln with massive independent expenditures). This one feels hard to predict, making it a perfect tossup. (J)

  • ID-01 (Sali): Lean Republican to Tossup
  • Well, here we are – a place I distantly imagined we might possibly reach but am nonetheless quite surprised (and delighted) to be. The race for Idaho’s first Congressional District is a tossup, my friends, and this is a race rating change you can believe in.

    Bill Sali has done for Democrats what even the lovechild of FDR and Howard Dean never could have: He’s made a seat that’s supremely conservative extremely competitive. As we’ve explained at great length, Sali is the perfect fuckup, capable of doing no right.

    Meanwhile, Dem Walt Minnick has been an ideal candidate running a nearly flawless campaign. He’s scored support from a broad range of conservatives furious with Sali’s antics and ineffectiveness, and he’s picked up endorsements from the region’s most important papers (see here and here). What’s more, the polling (particularly a recent SUSA survey) has shown a tight race. We think Minnick has put himself in an excellent position to win this race and are eager to follow the returns on election night. (D)

  • KY-03 (Yarmuth): Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
  • In any other cycle, this race would have been a barnburner: A popular, longtime incumbent narrowly upset in a wave election by a first-time candidate wages a serious comeback in a swing district. The problem is that this isn’t just any ordinary cycle. Indeed, it’s looking like a vale of tears for all of the Republican retreads who are seeking rematches this year.

    But Northup is a special case – she was actually a replacement candidate against John Yarmuth, after her bitterly humiliating primary loss to corrupt Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2007. Northup’s fundraising network may still be intact, but her political appeal isn’t. Yarmuth, who is proving to be a great fit for this district, has led comfortably in five straight SUSA polls.

    Once you factor in top-of-the-ticket excitement in Louisville, the chances of Northup pulling this one off seem remote indeed. Hopefully, with three shattering losses in just twenty-four months, we won’t be seeing much more of Anne any time soon. (D)

  • NY-24 (Arcuri): Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic
  • We’ve heard very little all cycle long in this sleepy race. When last we checked in half a year ago, malfunctioning NRCC robot Ken Spain was busy telling the world that Mike Arcuri would be vulnerable unless the DCCC spent its entire $44 million warchest to defend him.

    Actual DCCC expenditures on this race? $00,000,000.00. That sort of tells you all you need to know. Rep. Mike Arcuri has raised solidly if not spectacularly ($1.5m), but that’s been more than enough to keep his Republican opponent Richard Hanna at bay. Arcuri is likely to hold this seat for a long time to come. (D)

  • OH-15 (Open): Tossup to Lean Democratic
  • After a paper-thin margin in 2006, this R+1 district in Democratic-trending Columbus was considered a prime pickup opportunity. Once incumbent Deborah Pryce decided to flee for the hills (actually, K Street is pretty flat, come to think of it) and county commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy came back for another try, many prognosticators thought this was the Dems’ single-best pickup chance. Subsequent retirements (NY-25) and retirements/sex scandals/untimely deaths/party meltdowns (NY-13) moved it down the list a bit, but it always looked good for the Dems.

    The GOP scored big, though, by nailing their desired candidate, moderate state senator Steve Stivers. Polls never showed a big edge for Kilroy, and Kilroy got pinned down with various weird minutiae (like controversies over bids to build a baseball stadium and the radical leftist pamphlet alternative weekly she used to edit) that kept her from building much momentum.

    However, the general trend toward the Dems seems to have pushed this race into the Lean Dem column in the last month, with polls moving in Kilroy’s direction and the NRCC, in triage mode, more focused on saving incumbents than open seats. Throw in pro-life independent Don Eckhart making Stivers’ task even more difficult, and this becomes a race where a GOP victory would, at this point, be quite surprising. (C)

  • OH-18 (Space): Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic
  • Republicans thumped their chest pretty loudly after 2006 that Democrat Zack Space had a fluke victory and would be quickly dispatched with by a top-tier challenger in 2008. Well, it’s 2008, and we see no top-tier challenger here. We do see a sadsack nobody who has raised a whopping $332,000 in a year and a half since kicking off his campaign. That’s simply not enough to topple a Representative who, by most reviews, has been a good fit for his district and has provided superior constituent services.

    Memo to Republicans: Better luck next year. (J)