MN, NM, and TN: Population by CD

Today and yesterday’s Census data dump is of three states that didn’t gain or lose seats but will need some internal adjustment to reflect population movement from the cities and the rural areas to the suburbs: Minnesota, New Mexico, and Tennessee. (It also included three states with at-large seats that we won’t need to discuss: Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota.)

Minnesota barely made the cut for retaining its eighth seat (13,000 fewer people statewide and it would have lost it), which you can see in its very low new target: 662,991 per district. (That’s up from about 615K in 2000.) Despite the fact that Michele Bachmann lives there, people keep pouring into MN-06 in the outer-ring suburbs and exurbs to the north, west, and east of the Twin Cities. Only it and MN-02, taking in the southern suburbs/exurbs, will need to shed population, giving part to the rural 1st and 7th, and part to the urban 4th and 5th (and suburban-but-boxed-in 3rd). With split redistricting control, look for the parties, if they’re able to agree, to settle on incumbent protection.

Talk of moving the college town of St. Cloud, currently in MN-06, into MN-08 (which would enable Tarryl Clark to run there) may be premature, as MN-08 gained enough population that it can remain about the same. In fact, the fact that it did so may say a lot about last year’s election; the 8th’s growth has been happening at its southern end, where the MSP exurbs begin and where new Rep. Chip Cravaack hails from, and the population growth in this area has outpaced losses in the dark-blue Iron Range to the north, Jim Oberstar’s traditional turf.

District Rep. Population Deviation
MN-01 Walz (D) 644,787 (18,204)
MN-02 Kline (R) 732,515 69,524
MN-03 Paulsen (R) 650,185 (12,806)
MN-04 McCollum (D) 614,624 (48,367)
MN-05 Ellison (D) 616,482 (46,509)
MN-06 Bachmann (R) 759,478 96,487
MN-07 Peterson (D) 625,512 (37,479)
MN-08 Cravaack (R) 660,342 (2,649)
Total: 5,303,925

New Mexico’s target is 686,393, based on staying at three seats (up from 606K in 2000). Not much change needs to happen between the districts; the largely rural NM-02 will need to gain some population, probably from the southern suburbs of Albuquerque in NM-01. New Mexico has become appreciably more Hispanic over the last decade, though maybe not as dramatically as the other three border states (California, Arizona, and Texas), moving as a state from 45% non-Hispanic white and 42% Hispanic in 2000 to 40% non-Hispanic white and 46% Hispanic in 2010. That means that, since 2000, it has become the first state with a Hispanic plurality. The movement was fairly consistent among districts, with the 1st going from 42% to 48% Hispanic, the 2nd going from 47% to 52% Hispanic, and the 3rd going from 36% to 39% Hispanic (the 3rd, though, is the least-white of the three districts, thanks to an 18% Native American population, which stayed consistent over the decade).

District Rep. Population Deviation
NM-01 Heinrich (D) 701,939 15,546
NM-02 Pearce (R) 663,956 (22,437)
NM-03 Lujan (D) 693,284 6,891
Total: 2,059,179

Tennessee stays comfortably at nine seats, and its new target is 705,122 (up from 632K in 2000). It, like Minnesota, has seen a big population shift from cities and rural areas to suburbs and exurbs, as seen in the huge growth in the 6th (which half-circles Nashville on the east) and the 7th (a thin gerrymander that hooks up Nashville’s southern suburbs with Memphis’s eastern suburbs). In particular, western Tennessee, both in the city (TN-09) and the rural areas (TN-08) were hard-hit, with the 8th barely gaining and the 9th outright losing population. The GOP controls the redistricting process for the first time here, but with them up 7-2 in the current House delegation (and with Memphis unfixably blue), look for them to lock in current gains rather than getting aggressive with TN-05 (seeing as how Nashville could be cracked into multiple light-red urban/suburban districts, although that has ‘dummymander’ written all over it).  

District Rep. Population Deviation
TN-01 Roe (R) 684,093 (21,029)
TN-02 Duncan (R) 723,798 18,676
TN-03 Fleischmann (R) 692,346 (12,776)
TN-04 Des Jarlais (R) 688,008 (17,114)
TN-05 Cooper (D) 707,420 2,298
TN-06 Black (R) 788,754 83,632
TN-07 Blackburn (R) 792,605 87,483
TN-08 Fincher (R) 658,258 (46,864)
TN-09 Cohen (D) 610,823 (94,299)
Total: 6,346,105

8R-1D in Tennessee

At first glance, the GOP appears to be doing as well as it can in TN. They control the governor’s mansion, state leg, both senate seats, and every house seat outside of the two in Memphis and Nashville. But the seemingly ironclad Democratic stronghold of Nashville is actually possible for the GOP to crack. TN-05, which encompasses the city, has a PVI of D+3, which is low enough that it can be split among the heavily Republican precincts surrounding Nashville without doing too much damage to the GOP reps in those districts. And TN-05 is also 70% white, so the VRA does not provide an obstacle. I have attempted to draw a map that successfully cracks Nashville, giving the GOP 8 reps, without weakening the surrounding districts (especially the 8th, held by potentially vulnerable freshman Stephen Fincher, aka the gospel singer from Frog Jump).

Nashville Area:

Memphis Area:

The first step is to take the 9th and turn it into a Democratic vote dump, stretching it out to eat up some African American areas in the rural areas around Memphis. The 8th then comes down and takes the suburban Memphis areas currently in the fifth as well as most of the white areas currently in the 9th (leaving out the more liberal white areas). The new 9th is 23% white, 69% black whereas the old district was 36% white, 60% black. The idea here is to make the districts surrounding Memphis more conservative so that they can take Democratic parts of Nashville.

Nashville itself is split between the 8th, the 7th, and the 6th here. The 5th now encompasses only a small part of Nashville and now includes many more conservative suburban and rural counties. The 8th now stretches along the border of the state from Memphis to Nashville, having given up many rural areas to the 7th to make up for the 7th losing some of the Memphis suburban areas (more on why I did this trade-off later). Likewise, the 4th now stretches much further west into territory previously in the 7th to make up for the population that was taken out of the 4th and given to the 5th. The 6th is probably the least changed of all the districts used to split Nashville. It is still relatively compact and composed mainly of the northern suburbs of Nashville with some of urban Nashville thrown in. All three districts in the east are basically unchanged.

Demographics for all changed districts:

TN-09: 23% White, 69% Black, 5% Hispanic (Previously 36% W, 60% B, 3% H)

TN-08: 73% W, 20% B (Prev 75% W, 22% B)

TN-07 80% W, 12% B (Prev 85% W, 12% B)

TN-06 83% W, 11% B (Prev 90% W, 6% B)

TN-05 79% W, 10% B, 7% H (Prev 70% W, 24% B, 4% H)

TN-04 90% W, 6% B (Prev 93% W, 4% B)

Of all these districts, the one that needed to be protected the most was the 8th. The 8th was the most Democratic district in TN outside of Memphis or Nashville before, and the demographic changes seem to suggest that it has most a point or two more to the left with this redistricting. However, it has also become much more suburban and much less rural. This is very important, because while the rural areas have a very long history of electing blue dog democrats, the suburbs around Memphis are much more conservative and are solidly GOP at a local and national level, unlike the rural areas where Democrats still compete locally. Overall, the PVI of this district probably hasn’t changed too much, but I would suspect that it is now a good deal safer for Fincher.

I’m not actually sure that the GOP will do something like this, even though they probably could. It is a pretty atrocious looking map, and even though no majority-minority districts are split, it has looks a lot like something that would have happened in the pre-civil rights era south. There’s also not that much to be gained here; it’s only one congressional seat that we’re talking about. In the end, something like this, while possible, is probably not going to happen. But that doesn’t make it any less fun to draw. 🙂

Tennyoming: Redistricting Tennessee, But With 12 Districts

Under the Wyoming Rule, Tennessee would increase its share of districts to an impressive round dozen. But while the Volunteer State was once a swing state, it has become solidly Republican, at least for the time being. It remains unclear whether the wing of the party represented by the relatively moderate Sen. Corker or the wing of the party represented by Lt. Gov. Ramsey, who called Islam a “cult” during the primary campaign, will win in the battle for the soul of the Tennessee Republican Party, and whether the victor may determine where the fickle electorate lurches next.

As it rests now, though, Tennessee Republicans could force a 9-3 map under Wyoming Rule redistricting, and the only reason why they could not draw a 10-2 map is the Voting Rights Act.

TN-01 (safe Republican)

Rep. Phil Roe’s district just loses a few counties.

TN-02 (likely Republican)

Rep. Jimmy Duncan’s district is now consolidated around Knoxville.

TN-03 (safe Republican)

Rep.-elect Charles Fleischmann gets a nice safe district that looks a lot less disgusting than outgoing Rep. Zach Wamp’s current oddly shaped district.

TN-04 (safe Republican)

No longer Rep.-elect Scott DesJarlais’s district, this Republican-friendly open seat is leftovers from the first three.

TN-05 (safe Republican)

A partial successor to Rep.-elect Diane Black’s TN-07, this district contains her Gallatin residence and is thus her seat, for all intents and purposes. It has nothing to do with the safe Democratic district in Nashville, represented by Rep. Jim Cooper. On the contrary, this seat is safe Republican.

TN-06 (safe Republican)

Just as the previous district provided a natural home for Rep.-elect Black, DesJarlais’s gutted TN-04 is effectively replaced by this smaller district. Middle Tennessee is fertile ground for Republicans, and DesJarlais should be fine here.

TN-07 (likely Republican)

This district, which contains the home of outgoing Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon, is an open seat that leans Republican due to the territory. If Gordon runs, he might be able to win it, but it’s pretty conservative territory for the most part.

TN-08 (safe Democratic)

Team Blue finally gets on the board, with this successor to Cooper’s TN-05 solidly Democratic with its territory nibbled down to the center of Davidson County.

TN-09 (likely Republican)

With Democratic Rep. David Tanner history, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn (currently of TN-07) gets a less stupid-looking district. She should be established enough to win even though it includes a bit more of Democratic-leaning Davidson County than before.

TN-10 (safe Republican)

This western district, which includes pieces of the current TN-07 and much of the current TN-08, is an open seat that any Republican should be able to win.

TN-11 (safe Democratic)

As VRA districts go, these aren’t very stringent. This partial successor to TN-09, represented by Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, is 51% African American, 41% white. I don’t know if Cohen lives here, but it should be safe for Democrats.

TN-12 (likely Democratic)

I screwed over Rep.-elect Stephen Fincher, who looks like a liability for the GOP in Tennessee right now anyway, and plopped him into a coalition VRA district, which is 47% white, 46% African American, and 100% problematic for Republicans. Sen. John McCain of Arizona carried Tipton County in 2008, but only won Lauderdale County by a few points, while then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won big in Shelby and Haywood counties. Fincher could win it with a great campaign, but he doesn’t seem to run great campaigns.

Thoughts, either on the map or on the Wyoming Rule?

August Primaries to Watch

After a slow few weeks in late June and July, August promises to be quite exciting, primary-wise!

Here are some races to watch in August:


MO-Sen (R) – Blunt v. teabagger

MO-04 (R) – Free-for-all

MO-07 (R) – open seat

Proposition C – It’s about NULLIFICATION!

KS-Sen (R) – Moran/Tiahrt

KS-01, 04 (R) – open seats

KS-03 (R) – Yoder v. Lightner

KS-04 (D) – will Raj Goyle get VicRawl’d?

MI-Gov (D), (R)

MI-01, 02, 03 (R) – open seats

MI-07 (R) – Rooney/Walberg

MI-09 (R) – Rocky v. Welday

MI-12 (D)

MI-13 (D) – Kilpatrick weak

8/5: (hey, two primaries in one week!)

TN-Gov (R) – open seat

TN-03 (R) – Wamp’s open seat

TN-04 (R) – clusterfuck

TN-06 (R) – open seat

TN-08 (R) – Kirkland v. Flinn

TN-09 (D) – impending Willie Herenton fail


CT-Gov (D) and (R) – Lamont/Malloy and Fedele/Foley

CT-Sen (R) – ghost of Rob Simmons?

CT-02, 04, 05 (R)

CO-Gov (R) – McInnis and Maes double fail

CO-Sen (D) – Bennet v. Romanoff

CO-Sen (R) – the devil wears prada?

CO-03, 07 (R)

GA-Gov (R)Palin Handel v. Newt Deal

GA-07, 12 (R) – more runoffs

GA-09 (R) – Graves v. Hawkins round 3

MN-Gov (D) – Dayton v. Kelliher




WY-Gov (D), (R)


AZ-Sen (D), (R)

AZ-03 (R) – Shadegg’s open seat

AZ-01, 05, 08 (R)

VT-Gov (D)

FL-Gov (R) – (yes!!!!!!)

FL-Sen (D) – Meek v. Greene

FL-12, 25 (R) – open seats

FL-02, 08, 22, 24 (R)

FL-02 (D) – challenge to a Blue Dog from the left, v4.1

FL-17 (D) – Meek’s open seat

AK-Gov (R) – Parnell and the ghost of Palin?

AK-Sen (R) – Murkowski v. Palin proxy


LA-Sen (R) – Vitter v. Traylor

LA-02 (D) – Lafonta v. Richmond

LA-03 (R)

WV-Sen (D), (R) – Byrd special primary

Breaking down TN-08

Somewhat surprisingly, to me, Tennessee’s 8th Congressional district features a highly competitive House race in 2010.  The reason for the surprise is that the 8th has never really been competitive: John Tanner, the retiring incumbent, never won with less than 62% of the vote (even in 1994, he won 64%.)  Part of this was, certainly, that Republicans never gave a serious challenge to Tanner.

This made sense back in the 1980s and 1990s.  Jimmy Carter carried the then-7th district in 1980 (Tennessee only had 8 districts in the 1970s), and Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis each won 43% of the vote in the 8th.  In the 1990s, Bill Clinton carried the district twice, and Al Gore narrowly carried it in 2000.  So, this was basically a Democratic district.  (Note to those concerned: the district lines haven’t changed much at all since 1980.  The 2000 redistricting subtracted some heavily Republican Memphis suburbs and added part of Clarksville, the net result of which was to change this from a district that Gore won by less than 1,000 votes to one that he won by around 7,000 votes.)

More after the jump…

(NOTE: I don’t have any nice, pretty maps to illustrate this, so follow along.  Somebody who’s better at working with this might be able to create one.)

In the 2000s, though, the district has behaved quite differently in Presidential races.  In 2004, George W. Bush carried the 8th by around 15,000 votes; in 2008, the Republican margin was even greater: John McCain carried the 8th by about 35,000 votes.  That, combined with Tanner’s decision to retire, certainly gives Republicans an opening.

However, despite the Republican surge (part of a general rejection of Barack Obama in a broad swath from West Virginia through Tennessee and into Arkansas), this district still retains a Democratic lean.  Let’s look at the numbers:

Race Democrat Republican
2008: Obama (D) vs. McCain (R) 115,209 150,348
2006: Ford (D) vs. Corker (R) 100,126 91,414
2004: Kerry (D) vs. Bush (R) 116,327 131,524

See that?  While this is a district that has voted Republican in the last two Presidential races, in a competitive Senate race in 2006, it voted for a Democrat.  And a Democrat, it must be pointed out, more liberal than our likely nominee in 2010.

The 8th district can be broken down into five rather distinct parts.  I’ll break these down further below.  The five parts of the district are:

1.  Memphis area

2.  Rural West Tennessee

3.  Jackson

4.  Tennessee River area

5.  Clarksville (portion)

(Another note: Tennessee’s Secretary of State has precinct-by-precinct breakdowns of the vote, but for 2004, absentee and early votes were lumped into “absentee” and “early” by county rather than assigning them to individual precincts.  This isn’t an issue in counties that are entirely within the district, but in Shelby County and Montgomery County, which are only partly in the district, we can’t get a completely accurate read of the 2004 vote.)

Memphis area

County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
SHELBY 21,073 9,298 13,473 6,366
TIPTON 7,931 17,165 6,775 9,717
TOTAL 29,004 26,463 20,248 16,083

I was actually surprised to discover that Obama carried the Shelby County portion of the 8th district with nearly 70% of the vote.  That’s because, rather than being suburban, most of the 8th district’s Shelby County voters live in a heavily African-American area of north Memphis.  And the district’s suburban areas are mostly in Millington, north of the city.  Millington, compared to the east Shelby County suburbs (Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville) is more working-class and has a higher African-American population.  The result is that it’s generally less Republican than east Shelby County.  And the net result is a heavy Democratic vote.  In fact, almost all of Harold Ford Jr.’s district-wide margin was in Shelby County.

Tipton County could be classified as rural West Tennessee, but the rapidly-growing southern part of the county certainly is part of the Memphis area, so we’re putting it here.  Tipton County is certainly more working-class than east Shelby County (the median household income here is $47,850), but the African-American population is rather low (19 percent) compared to the surrounding counties, and as a result it’s generally Republican.

The Shelby County portion of the district should provide a solid Democratic margin, but the danger for Roy Herron is that, without an African-American candidate at the top of the ticket, A-A turnout in Memphis could be down (something tells me A-A voters aren’t going to turn out in big numbers just to vote for Roy Herron.)  So Shelby County should give a solid margin to Herron, but it probably won’t be as big as the margins that Obama and Ford racked up there.  But the Shelby County portion of the district casts only 11% of the district vote — not much more than the 9% that Tipton County casts — so it’s unlikely that simply racking up a big margin in Memphis will be enough to put the Democrat over the top.

Republican candidate George Flinn lives in Memphis, though he actually lives in the 9th district.

Rural West Tennessee

County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
CARROLL 3,980 7,455 4,256 4,742
CROCKETT 1,967 3,994 2,246 2,212
DYER 4,411 9,859 4,848 6,115
GIBSON 7,406 13,516 7,471 8,003
HAYWOOD 4,893 3,165 3,763 2,130
LAKE 1,024 1,175 981 571
LAUDERDALE 4,322 4,933 3,954 2,953
OBION 4,308 8,873 4,734 4,936
WEAKLEY 4,596 8,855 4,542 5,412
TOTAL 36,907 61,825 36,795 37,074

Rural West Tennessee tends to be a swing area in state elections.  While Obama did poorly in this area, Harold Ford Jr., as seen above, came very close to carrying it in the 2006 Senate race, and Phil Bredesen carried it in the 2002 gubernatorial race — a key to his statewide win.  (Kerry lost this area by around 10,000 votes.)

This portion of the district includes Haywood County, which has an African-American plurality (49.7% of the population) and as such is heavily Democratic — it was the one county in Tennessee that Lamar Alexander failed to carry in his 2008 bid for reelection.  But generally speaking, this area doesn’t have that many African-Americans — Lake County and Lauderdale County, on the Mississippi River, have A-A populations around 35%, but the rest of the counties have A-A populations more like those seen in neighboring Kentucky.

Despite its recent performance, rural West Tennessee is still Blue Dog Democrat territory — almost all of this area is represented by Democrats in the state legislature.  Weakley County is the home of Roy Herron, who’s represented much of this area in the state Senate since 1996 — his district includes Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties, as well as Henry, Stewart, and Benton (which I’ve included in the Tennessee River portion of the district) and three other counties that aren’t in the 8th.  As such, Herron can be expected to do well in this area.  That’s a good thing, because doing well in the rural counties will be key to a Democratic win — in 2008, this area cast a little more than a third of the districtwide votes.  Republican candidate Stephen Fincher is from Crockett County, also in this part of the district.


County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
MADISON 20,209 23,290 14,549 15,367

Jackson (2008 pop.: 63,158) is the largest city wholly in the district.  Jackson, basically, is like a smaller version of Memphis, with similar social ills and racially polarized voting.  In both national and state elections, it tends to lean Republican; both Harold Ford Jr. and Phil Bredesen (in 2002) lost narrowly here.  Unlike the rest of the district (and Tennessee in general), Madison County actually moved toward the Democrats in 2008; Obama lost by 3,000 votes, while John Kerry lost by around 4,800 votes here.  Increased African-American turnout seems to be the answer; a precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows that Obama won a bunch of extra votes in mostly A-A precincts in Jackson and didn’t seem to do any better than Kerry did in the white areas of town.

Yet Jackson does seem to have a bit of a Democratic streak.  It rejected an incumbent Republican state Senator in 2002, and, after the new Senator switched parties, very narrowly voted for him in 2006 (he lost district-wide thanks to Gibson and Carroll counties.)  Herron should win here if George Flinn is the Republican nominee, though he’ll have a tougher time against Jackson-based Ron Kirkland.  Madison County casts around 16% of the vote district-wide, so Herron can weather a likely narrow loss in Jackson.

Tennessee River counties

County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
BENTON 2,645 3,696 3,232 2,176
DICKSON 7,506 11,677 7,232 7,014
HENRY 5,153 8,182 4,947 4,689
HOUSTON 1,678 1,608 1,734 931
HUMPHREYS 3,600 3,818 3,915 2,236
STEWART 2,470 2,956 2,608 1,675
TOTAL 23,052 31,937 23,668 18,721

Obama’s performance in this area is a little mystifying to me, as this has always been one of the most Democratic parts of Tennessee.  The easy argument is that Obama is black and a liberal — but that doesn’t quite hold water, since this area voted for a black (Ford) and nearly voted for a liberal (Kerry, who lost these counties by 775 votes) in recent years.  In any case, though, this area still likes its Tennessee Democrats, as Harold Ford Jr. won here, and Phil Bredesen carried it easily in 2002 (winning over 70% of the vote in Houston County.)  Roy Herron likewise should win this area, though perhaps not with the big Democratic margins of old.  (Dickson County is actually coming within the exurban orbit of Nashville these days, which explains some of the increased Republican vote there.)  This area, as a whole, casts around 20% of the district-wide vote.


County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
MONTGOMERY 6,037 6,833 4,866 4,169

The 8th district only includes a small part of Montgomery County.  This area does lean a bit Democratic, and Montgomery County moved toward Obama in 2008 — some of that may have had to do with unhappiness with Bush-era foreign policy (Montgomery County includes a large part of Fort Campbell, though it’s not in the district.)  In any case, Clarksville doesn’t carry a lot of weight in the 8th district, as it only casts 5% of the district votes.  The rest of the city is in the 7th district.


While Democrats will have a tough time holding the 8th, it’s not nearly as uphill battle as it might seem from looking at the 2008 Presidential results.  In state elections, much of this district still prefers Blue Dog Democrats like Tanner and Herron, and even a relatively liberal Democrat (for Tennessee, anyway) like Harold Ford Jr. was strong enough to carry this district.

In the 2010 election, Republican-leaning Jackson and the Democratic-leaning Tennessee River counties will likely cancel each other out.  Herron should win the Shelby County portion of the district, though without Obama or Ford at the top of the ticket, he can’t count on high African-American turnout.  That leaves rural West Tennessee, which gave McCain a big margin but which often votes for Democrats below the Presidential level, and where Herron is well-known and well-liked.  I’m not guaranteeing a win by any stretch, but Herron is well-positioned to keep this district in Democratic hands.

In addition, the Republican candidates here have weaknesses.  Stephen Fincher and Ron Kirkland have never run for office before, while George Flinn doesn’t live in the district.  Against a seasoned, veteran state Senator, they could have trouble.

Legislative Special Election and Runoff Election Roundup

While it may feel like we wrapped up the election cycle on Tuesday, there are always more elections to come. This post covers the special and runoff legislative races coming up in the next month. There are three other important races, the Mass. Senate race and the Houston and Atlanta mayoral runoff races, that will be covered in a future post.

Dems have a chance at picking up one seat in California, two in Tennessee and one in Kentucky, while they are defending another seat in Kentucky, one in Georgia and one in Iowa. There are also two interesting inter-party fights going on in the Georgia runoffs.

This is cross posted on my new blog dedicated to following special elections and culling absentee ballot information from all states into one spot to increase turnout in local races. To read more about each race and learn more about the candidates, click here.

I am sure I left out some races – I hope you will let everyone know about them in the comments and I will be sure to write about them shortly

For the races, join me below the jump.

November 17 – CA Assembly 72 – This doesn’t mean much around these here parts, but there is a primary in Orange County for the seat of Republican Mike Duvall, who resigned due to a sex scandal earlier this year.

Three Republicans are vying for the chance to take on the Democratic candidate, John MacMurray, a teacher in La Habra, and the Green Party Candidate, Jane Rands. MacMurray’s website is here.

The general election will be held on January 12.


On November 24, Democrats are defending a seat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (HD 33) Democrats chose Kirsten Running-Marquardt as their candidate. A former aide to Congressman David Loebsack, her background is detailed here.

Republicans nominated Josh Thurston, an Iraq War veteran and Cargill employee


December 1
– Voters go back to work in Georgia for legislative runoffs and there are two special elections in Tennessee.

In Georgia, four races are being voted on in different parts of the state. Thanks to TheUnknown285 for all his help on these races.

SD 35

This Atlanta-based Senate district was represented by Kasim Reed, who is locked in a runoff race for Mayor of Atlanta, also to be held on December 1. Outside of parts of Atlanta, the district also represents:

College Park, Douglasville, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Lithia Springs, Palmetto, and Union City

The two remaining candidates are Donzella James and Torrey Johnson,  both Democrats. James, who took the most votes in the first vote on December 3 is attempting to return to the State Senate after serving from 1994-2002. Johnson is an ordained Lutheran minister seeking his first elected office.

HD 58

To see a map of the Georgia House Districts, click http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg…

There is a runoff  in GA HD 58 between two Democrats. Asha Jackson faces Simone Bell in this Atlanta-based district.

HD 129

This district is comprised of most of Harris County and parts of Troup County and Muscogee County.

A pair of Republicans, Kip Smith and Steve Earles are facing off in this election.

HD 141

This district is made up of all of Baldwin County and a small piece of Putnam County. The Democratic incumbent did not run for reelection and so independent candidate Rusty Kidd will square off against Democrat Darrell Black.


In Tennessee, specifically East Memphis, voters will go to the polls to elect a new state senator to fill the seat of Republican Paul Stanley, SD 31, who resigned earlier this year. Many of the voters will also be picking in the primary for the 83rd House District in a  seat resigned by Republican Brian Kelsey, a candidate for Stanley’s seat.

In the State Senate race, covering covers most of Bartlett, almost all of Cordova and Germantown, a few East Memphis precincts and parts of Hickory Hill, Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon is hoping to keep the seat in her party’s hands. A Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee Member, her website can be found at

The Republican candidate is former State Representative Brian Kelsey who was the Republican floor leader in the House for 2007-2008.

For the House race primary vacated by Kelsey, the candidates are Republicans Mark White and John Pellioccitti, Democrats Guthrie Castle and Ivan Faulkner and Independent John Andreucetti.


December 8 – There are two races in Kentucky and one in Arkansas.

KY SD 14 and HD 96

Two races will be voted on December 8th in Kentucky. The State Senate race, located in a district in central Kentucky and comprised of Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties, resulted from Republican Senator Dan Kelly being named to a circuit court judgeship.

The Republican nominee for SD-14 is State Representative Jimmy Higdon from Lebanon, KY.

The Democratic candidate is former State Representative Jodie Haydon, who is looking to return to the legislature after retiring from the House in 2004.

The House race is in north-east Kentucky, near the Ohio border, covering Lewis and Carter counties. Democratic Representative Robin Webb resigned the post after being elected to a State Senate seat.

In the House race, Democrats nominated Barry Webb, while Republicans chose Jill York.



There will be a special election held in District 4, which includes all of Yell County, the southern portion of Pope County and the eastern portion of Logan County. Republican Senator Sharon Trusty is resigning her seat.

There are three candidates on the ballot. Former State Representative Michael Lamoureux is attempting to return to the State House as the Republican candidate.

John Burnett is a Russellville Attorney and is running as a Democrat.

Tachany C. Evans is the Independent candidate and a member of the Board of Directors for Help Network, Inc.


That’s all for this time. Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing about more races I should include and cover. To read more about each race and learn more about the candidates, click here.

State Legislatures Roundup

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about state legislatures, so here are some bits and pieces on where we stand right now (if you need a primer on where the most hotly contested chambers are and what the margin of seats held is, see my previous diary here). New York remains the big prize, with Democrats within one flipped seat of a tied State Senate and two seats away from taking control. This is the only state I know of where individual races have been polled; over the past month Siena has polled 10 of the 62 races, and with one GOP-held open seat poised to fall to the Democrats, one Dem incumbent trailing a GOP challenger, and one GOP incumbent tied with his Democratic challenger, the outcome is too close to call.

In Texas, the House is possibly the next juiciest legislative target after the NY Senate, which looks more like a two-cycle project but might actually get done this year. Republicans currently hold the House 79-71. Burnt Orange Report recently put together an impressive set of projections, and it seems like a 75-75 split is possible if Dems run the table on the closest races.

They peg two Democratic challengers, Diana Maldonado (open seat in HD-52 in Austin’s northern suburbs) and Chris Turner (against incumbent Bill Zedler in HD-96 in Ft. Worth’s southern suburbs), as “Lean Dem,” with two more potential Democratic pickups at the “Tossup” level (Joe Moody in an open seat in HD-78 in El Paso and Joel Redmond in an open seat in HD-144 in Houston’s eastern suburbs). A Houston Chronicle article from yesterday seems to support this analysis; while it doesn’t delve in to specific seats, it looks at fundraising and general mood to conclude “Climate is ripe for Texas House takeover.”

There’s more over the flip…

Governing Magazine’s Ballot Box blog has, in the last month profiled some of the other most hotly contested state legislature races. One race recently profiled that presents the GOP with a takeover opportunity in an unlikely place: the Maine Senate, based on the Dems’ narrow 18-17 lead and, in an example of all politics being local, an unpopular tax on alcoholic beverages intended to pay for improved health care access. The swingiest district seems to be the 1st district in the state’s southernmost tip, matching a freshman Dem against his GOP predecessor.

The Nevada Senate is another prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats, as the GOP currently controls it by an 11-10 margin. As they point out, this turns on only two races, both involving endangered GOP incumbents, Bob Beers and Joe Heck in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Beers and Heck, if they survive, are both considered possible gubernatorial candidates, seeing as how embattled Jim Gibbons isn’t likely to try again… however, first they have to survive Gibbons’ unpopularity.

One of the Democrats’ toughest holds this year is the Indiana House, where the Dems have a 51-49 edge. This race is hard to handicap because it’s likely the Republicans will pick up a few open seats in rural areas left open by Dem retirements (including ones in West Lafayette and the rural area near Evansville), while Dems pick up a few GOP-held but Dem-heavy seats in Indianapolis (including the seat held by Jon Elrod, whom you might remember getting demolished by Andre Carson in the IN-07 special election).

The Oklahoma Senate is the closest in the nation, as it’s a 24-24 tie, although Democrats maintain control because of the Lt. Governor. Democrats face big trouble in a Dem-held open seat in Stillwater, where a former president of Oklahoma State University is the GOP nominee. However, they feel they have several possible pickups elsewhere, including in the Oklahoma Panhandle, one of the most conservative places in the country but where they’re running a professional bull rider by the name of Bowdy Peach who seems uniquely suited to the district.

In the New Hampshire Senate, Democrats hold a 14-10 edge and are likely to hold on to that. They may even add to that, starting with the seat being vacated by Joe Kenney, the GOP sad sack currently losing the New Hampshire governor’s race by a margin of about 70-10; the Union-Leader projects this seat as “Lean Democratic.”

Both chambers in Florida are heavily Republican right now, but Democrats are optimistic they might pick up a few seats in each, especially a Republican-held open senate seat near Sarasota. However, Florida Dems sound more focused on 2010, when term limits will turf out 21 House Republicans and 8 Senate Republicans.

The Tennessee Senate is one place where the Republicans may take over (despite a 16-16-1 tie, they effectively wield control already; the one independent, who claims to belong to the “NASCAR Party,” generally votes Republican). Several retirements in rural seats held by Democrats may lead to GOP pickups, such as the seat in rural areas just east of Memphis held by long-time Senate leader John Wilder since 1966.

Louis Jacobson at is apparently the only prognosticator who goes so far as to try to assign state legislatures to the “tossup/lean/likely” framework; he published his newest ratings yesterday. They’re mostly in line with what we’ve seen discussed above, and movements that he’s made lately have generally been in the Democratic direction. He forecasts two currently Republican-held chambers, the New York Senate and Delaware House, as being Lean Democratic. He also forecasts seven Republican-held chambers (Alaska Senate, Nevada Senate, North Dakota Senate, Arizona House, Montana House, Ohio House, and Wisconsin Assembly) as being Tossups. He forecasts one Democrat-held chamber, the Montana Senate, as being Lean Republican, and four Democrat-held chambers (Maine Senate, New Hampshire Senate, Indiana House, and Pennsylvania House) as Tossups. Finally, he forecasts the Tennessee Senate and Oklahoma Senate (both tied) as ending up in Republican hands. Some of these choices (NH Senate?) seem to turn merely on the small number of seats needed to flip the chamber, rather than broader trends in each state, but it’s an interesting starting point.

That’s a lot of information to digest… still wondering what to do? Well, the DLCC maintains its own blog, which has been, over the last few weeks, rounding up dozen of Essential Races, focusing on up-and-coming candidates in key races. You can learn more about our Democratic bench as we build it, and there are links for contributions, too.

SSP’s Competitive State Legislature Ratings

Legislative Body Composition

We’re going to try something new here at Swing State Project: a list of competitive state legislature races for 2008. However, we aren’t breaking them down into the tossup/lean/likely framework that you’re familiar with. Unlike Senate and House races, where there is abundant polling and fundraising information to help us make informed decisions, state legislatures are jigsaws made up of hundreds of different races, most of which we know precious little about. Therefore, we’re simply listing the closest legislative bodies, starting with the ones that are tied and working downward based on percentage of seats held by the majority party.

There are a few legislative bodies that are close enough to be on this list, but aren’t included because they’re elected in off-years (Louisiana House, 53 D/49 R/1 I/2 V) or everyone gets elected all together in 2010 (Michigan Senate, 17 D/21 R).

This list makes a few of these legislative bodies look to be at more risk of flipping than they actually are. For instance, the Tennessee Senate isn’t likely to flip back to us this year, as we’re facing the potential loss of Democratic held open seats in GOP-leaning rural areas due to retirement. Conversely, Democrats in the Oregon House are likely to strengthen their position because of Republican retirements in suburban Dem-leaning seats. Indiana Democrats also seem optimistic about their ability to hold the razor-close Indiana House.

Likewise, there are chambers where reality might place them a little higher on the list. Most prognosticators, for instance, would agree that the New York Senate flipping to Democratic control is all but a done deal at this point, what with Majority Leader Joe Bruno already having hit the eject button and several GOP old-timers in strongly Democratic seats running on fumes. Similarly, there’s a lot of optimism about retaking the Wisconsin Assembly.

Also, there is a handful of states where the number of seats needed to flip, and the small number of constituents per seat, make it possible that anything can happen. (Consider the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2006. The GOP controlled 62% of the seats, making it look safe. The Democrats flipped 90 seats (out of 400… NH has by far the largest state legislature) to take firm control. No one saw that coming, proof that anything can happen at this level.)

Alaska may be a prime example, where Dems only need to flip two seats to take control of the Senate… and with indictments cutting a swath through the Republican caucus in the Senate, the popular Governor now facing a mini-scandal of her own, and potentially big Obama coattails, it may be the year to make it happen. The Senates in both North and South Dakota also need only a few flipped seats to change hands, and, again, with Obama coattails, it’s possible; the same applies to the perpetually-close Montana House.

As stated during last month’s state legislature overview, though, useful links about state legislatures are few and far between in the blogosphere, so we need our readers to help be our eyes and ears. If you have any further insights into any of these races or helpful links, please share in the comments.

A Look at State Legislatures for 2008

I know that it’s easy here at Swing State Project to get seduced by all the glitz and glamour of U.S. House races. (That sounds hilarious when you think about how incredibly nerdy it sounds, but, well, there’s a kernel of truth there.) Bear with me for a minute, though, as we drop down to the real meat and potatoes of American politics: state legislatures. I’ll try to keep everyone updated in future months about developments in some of the biggest contests, but here’s a primer to start with.

Here are some reasons why you should very much care. First, the states are often the crucibles for experimentation with progressive policy. That’s especially been the case over the last few decades of Republican domination at the national level, although hopefully that will change once we actually have a progressive trifecta in Washington.

Consider where the movement toward civil rights and marriage or civil union rights for gays and lesbians has occurred: it’s been purely at the state level. If and when truly universal health care happens, given the difficulty of getting it through Congress, it’s most likely to happen in some of the states (and the some of the boldest moves in that direction have already occurred in the states, such as in Vermont and Oregon… and not coincidentally, back when they had MDs for governors).

Also, the state legislatures are our bench for federal office. The GOP may be the party of wealthy self-funders popping out of nowhere, but the Democrats are largely a meritocratic bunch and many of our best have stints in the state legislature on their resume, where they honed their skills and built their networks. Just as one example, consider what the guy who, four years ago today, was representing the 13th District of the Illinois State Senate is up to now.

Finally, in most states, the state legislatures control the redistricting process, not just for themselves but for U.S. House districts as well. The entire shape and terrain of the nationwide electoral battlefield for the entire 2010s will be determined by who has control of the legislature in key states following the 2010 election. This is partly why we were so hosed during the early 2000s: GOP-held legislatures in states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan drew remarkably GOP-favorable maps. And even when the blue wave came in 2006, the pro-GOP gerrymanders probably saved them the loss of even more seats.

Some GOP-held legislatures are ready to flip now; others have the Democrats in a somewhat deeper hole, but a sustained push over two electoral cycles can have the Democrats in control in 2010. Let’s take a look at the key playing fields for this year and the next few years, starting with Republican-held legislatures that are within striking distance. (The rank order is mostly gut-level, although I did use some informal metrics involving the size of the state, how close the gap between the two parties is, and how much is at stake for that state with 2010 redistricting.)

Democratic offense

1) New York Senate

30 Democrats, 32 Republicans (62 total)

1 to tie, 2 to flip (Republicans would sort-of break the tie, as Joe Bruno is both Senate Majority Leader and Acting Lt. Governor because of David Paterson having become Governor, although he still gets only one vote)

Two-year terms, no term limits

Constituents per seat: 311,000

I think most prognosticators would agree with me that this is one is currently the big enchilada. The Republican edge in the Senate, resulting from the long-term presence of GOP lifers in seats that Dem-leaning areas (seriously… 7 of the GOP senators have been in place since the 1970s), has allowed Joe Bruno to single-handedly act as a brake on implementing the progressive agenda in New York.

Moreover, the opportunity for a Democratic trifecta in Albany (Dems currently control the Governor’s seat, and the Assembly by a wide margin) in 2010 would mean complete control over the redistricting process, and an opportunity to dislodge any remaining GOP Congressmen in New York. (Although it’s looking likely that there won’t be more than two or three left after the 2008 election!) New York is predicted to lose two house seats after the 2010 census, and the blow can be softened by making sure both are GOP-held seats.

We’ve edged two seats closer to takeover since the 2006 election via two special elections (in SD-7 on Long Island and SD-48 in far north Upstate). All 62 seats are up this year; unlike most other Senates, in New York, Senators serve two-year terms and are up for re-election every cycle. Robert Harding at the Albany Report has begun an ongoing series handicapping the competitive Senate races, and also started an excellent series of diaries profiling each of the Senate districts.

Of Harding’s most competitive seats, 8 of the 10 are currently GOP-held; the top two are SD-15 and S-11, two seats in heavily Democratic Queens held by GOP oldsters (Serphin Maltese and Frank Padavan). While polling of individual districts hasn’t begun, a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday found that, statewide, voters prefer a Democratic State Senate to a Republican one by a margin of 51 to 35.

2) Texas House

71 Democrats, 79 Republicans (150 total)

4 to tie, 5 to flip

Two-year terms, no term limits

Constituents per seat: 157,000

The Texas House has been controlled by Republicans since 2003. As you probably recall, their first order of business was to engage in the mid-decade DeLay-mander that led to the Dems’ electoral wipeout in 2004 (although several victims of that wipeout have managed to claw their way back into the House). Texas is predicted to gain as many as four seats in the U.S. House through 2010 reapportionment, and given the Texas GOP’s skill at creating bizarre tapeworm-shaped districts, it’s possible that, if we don’t have a seat at the redistricting table, all four of those seats could wind up GOP-leaning. (Given how close the House is, that seat is much likelier to come there than via the Governor or the Senate, where we’re in a deeper hole at 11 D/20 R.)

In addition, in terms of implementing policy, the House Speaker (currently Tom Craddick) is basically the most powerful person in Texas politics, much more so than the Governor. Four seats may seem a little steep – and this may wind up being a two-cycle project, although given the stakes, it’s critically important to follow through – but given the rapid demographic changes occurring in Texas (the same ones that are suddenly putting TX-07 and TX-10 within reach) it’s doable.

3) Pennsylvania Senate

21 Democrats, 29 Republicans (50 total)

4 to tie, 5 to flip (Lt. Governor, currently Dem, breaks tie)

Four-year terms, limit of two terms, half elected each election

Constituents per seat: 249,000

The Pennsylvania Senate is definitely a two-cycle project, as only half of the 50 seats are up for election in 2008, and it’ll be hard to turn more than one or two this year. I’m listing this as high as #3 because Pennsylvania is, after New York, the largest blue state where one of the legislative bodies is Republican-controlled. Like New York, this is because of old-school Republicans hanging on in areas that have long since gone Democratic, at least at the presidential level (Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks Counties in particular). A prominent example is Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who represents part of Delaware County.

In addition, Pennsylvania is projected to lose another seat in the U.S. House in 2010, so control of the redistricting process will be key. (Hellish redistricting in 2000 managed to turn their U.S. House delegation from 11 R-10 D in 2000 to 12 R-7 D in 2002. Of course, spreading the seats as thin as they did wasn’t that wise, as we got the last laugh in 2006, flipping four seats.)

4) Nevada Senate

10 Democrats, 11 Republicans (21 total)

1 to flip

Four-year terms, limit of three terms, half elected each election

Constituents per seat: 119,000 (except for two multi-member seats)

Nevada is a smallish state, but it ranks high on this list because it’s so closely divided (only one seat needs to change hands to flip control to the Democrats). The Democrats already control the state Assembly by a safe 27-15 margin, and given Jim Gibbons’ problems, may well take back the Governor’s seat in 2010, in which case flipping the Senate would give them the trifecta.

Nevada is also important from a redistricting standpoint, as it will be gaining a seat in 2010. We have a good shot to create three Dem-leaning seats in Clark County, each of which contain part Las Vegas and part suburbs, so, again, control of the redistricting process is key.

5) Tennessee Senate

16 Democrats, 16 Republicans, 1 Independent (Speaker is R)

1 to flip

Four-year terms, half elected every election

Constituents per seat: 183,000

Tennessee’s Senate is one of two tied legislative bodies right now (Oklahoma’s Senate is the other one), but the Republicans currently control the Speaker’s seat (Ron Ramsey won the Speaker vote 18-15, including the support of one Dem). This is on the list because a shift of one seat would give the Democrats control (assuming that Rosalind Kurita, the Dem who flipped would vote for a Democratic speaker in the event of a clear Democratic majority). Democrats already control the House and the Governorship.

This is a bit lower on the list because Tennessee is expected to retain nine House seats in 2010. Changes around the margins, however, could either work toward making existing Democratic seats safer, or else trying to make TN-07 competitive.

Others to watch

The Michigan Senate would be near the top of the list, as we’re down 17 D-21 R and only need to pick up two seats to tie it (where the Dem Lt. Gov. would break the tie). Michigan has one of the most pro-GOP gerrymanders in the nation, which will need to be undone in 2010. However, we can’t do anything about it yet because no Senators are up for election in 2008; all 38 stand in 2010.

The Virginia House of Delegates is a ripe target, especially in view of having just taken over the Virginia Senate. We’re down 45 D-53 R-2 I (the Independents both caucus GOP), so a swing of six would give us the trifecta. This election, however, won’t happen until 2009.

As I mentioned, the Oklahoma Senate is also tied, split 24-24. We maintain functional control over the Senate because of the Democratic Lt. Governor, however (although a power-sharing agreement gives the Republicans control during the month of July, believe it or not).

Wisconsin’s Assembly is within reach, with Dems down 47 D-52 R. And both chambers in Arizona are close (13 D-17 R in the Senate, and 27 D-33 R in the House); Arizona is set to gain two seats in 2010, but redistricting control isn’t at issue as the decisions are up to a nonpartisan commission.

Democratic defense

Now let’s take a look at legislatures where we’re going to have to play defense. I don’t foresee this being a cause for alarm, given broader Democratic strengths this cycle, but the fact that we currently control 57 legislatures to the GOP’s 39 means that we do need to watch our backs.

1) Pennsylvania House

102 Democrats, 101 Republicans (203 total)

1 to flip

Two-year terms

Constituents per seat: 61,000

A strong gust could tip the Pennsylvania House back to Republican control (especially considering that, although the Democrats control the chamber, they elected a Republican as speaker in a compromise). Looking at the sheer numbers of Republicans left in the Dem-leaning Philly burbs, the general trends point in our direction, but at only 61,000 constituents per seat, local-level dynamics can make all the difference.

2) Michigan House

58 Democrats, 52 Republicans (110 total)

3 to tie, 4 to flip

Two-year terms, limit of three terms

Constituents per seat: 92,000

In Michigan, the Dems hold the House and the Governorship, although both somewhat tenuously. Controlling the trifecta in 2010 is extremely important, as the pro-GOP gerrymander in the U.S. House seats needs to be undone (the split went from 9 D-7 R in 2000 to 9 R-6 D in 2002, where it persists today). Michigan is predicted to lose one more seat in 2010.

3) Indiana House

51 Democrats, 49 Republicans (100 total)

1 to tie, 2 to flip

Two-year terms

Constituents per seat: 63,000

The Democratic margin is Indiana is very narrow, and the only thing keeping the GOP from controlling the trifecta (the GOP has solid control over the Senate, at 33 R-17 D). Indiana is not predicted to lose a U.S. House seat in 2010, but a GOP gerrymander could make life much more difficult for the three Dem House members representing red districts in Indiana.

4) Oregon House

31 Democrats, 29 Republicans (60 total)

1 to tie, 2 to flip

Two-year terms

Constituents per seat: 62,000

Democrats in Oregon finally took back the House in 2006, giving them the trifecta (they have solid control over the Senate, at 19 D-11 R). This is on the list mostly by virtue of how close it is on paper, but the disparity wasn’t much of an impediment on Speaker Jeff Merkley’s ability to push through progressive legislation. With strong Obama coattails and the Republicans defending several suburban open seats, look for the Democrats to gain a few seats (as Skywaker9 at Daily Kos has thoroughly detailed). However, Oregon is set to gain a House seat in 2010, with the possibility of a 5-1 delegation if the Dems divvy up Portland correctly, so holding the trifecta through 2010 is important.

5) Illinois House

67 Democrats, 51 Republicans (118 total)

8 to tie, 9 to flip

Two-year terms

Constituents per seat: 109,000

Illinois doesn’t actually seem in that much danger this year, with a decent-sized cushion and major Obama coattails. The main reason this is on the list as opposed to a chamber with smaller margins is that Illinois is set to lose a U.S. House seat in 2010, and although we currently control the trifecta, we don’t want the GOP anywhere near the redistricting table.

A few other bodies are worth mentioning: the Virginia Senate (21 D-19 R), Louisiana House (53 D-49 R-1 I-2 V), and Mississippi Senate (27 D-25 R) are all very close, but these are all off-year elections and won’t be an issue until 2009.

(You might be wondering what our safest chamber is. I’d say it’s the Hawaii Senate, which we control 22 D-3 R.)

“Moneyball” opportunities

Finally, I wanted to turn my attention to several more pickup possibilities, which I’m calling the “moneyball” states. These tend to be the smallest states, where redistricting isn’t an issue because each one only gets one U.S. House seat, so they aren’t high priorities for us. On the other hand, these are the chambers that can be flipped for the smallest possible investment. I calculated this simply by multiplying the number of seats needed to flip by the number of constituents per seat (and thus the presumed expense of flipping a seat). Two of these cases (Delaware and Montana) would actually give the Dems the trifecta in those states.

1) Montana House

49 Democrats, 50 Republicans, 1 Constitution Party (100 total)

1 to tie, 2 to flip

Constituents per seat: 9,000

Moneyball number: 18,000

2) Delaware House

19 Democrats, 22 Republicans (41 total)

2 to flip

Constituents per seat: 21,000

Moneyball number: 42,000

3) North Dakota Senate

21 Democrats, 26 Republicans (47 total)

3 to flip

Constituents per seat: 14,000

Moneyball number: 42,000

4) South Dakota Senate

15 Democrats, 20 Republicans (35 total)

3 to flip

Constituents per seat: 22,000

Moneyball number: 66,000

5) Alaska House

17 Democrats, 23 Republicans (40 total)

3 to tie, 4 to flip

Constituents per seat: 17,000

Moneyball number: 68,000

There’s a real shortage of information out there at the national level about individual state legislature races, so if anyone of you out there know of any blogs or individual diarists that excel at handicapping state legislature races, please let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure and keep up with them as we approach November.

TN-Sen: McWherter Will Drop Out

Looks like Tennessee Dems have caught a bad break: Their likely Senate candidate, businessman Mike McWherter, the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, is expected to drop his Senate bid.

Two potential candidates for the seat, former state Democratic Party Chair Bob Tuke and Nashville insurance lawyer Kevin Doherty, both say that they received calls from McWherter to inform them of his decision to cut the cord on the race.

Tuke says that he’ll make a decision soon:

Tuke said earlier this year that he planned to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Alexander, but then stepped aside after McWherter indicated an interest.

“I’m going to go through a very methodical, intentional analysis of it – talking to people and looking at the polling Mike had done. Then we’ll see – hopefully in just a few days. Time’s a wasting,” said Tuke.

Tuke says he’ll also talk with Nashville attorney Kevin Doherty, who had also indicated an interest in making the race until McWherter stepped up.

This seat was always a long shot for Dems to pick up (absent a Lamar! retirement), but McWherter was expected to partially self-fund his race, with the potential to make Alexander sweat a little.  The news isn’t good by any means, but at least we have a couple of potential candidates who are giving the race a look.