November 17, 2002
NOT QUITE AS PROMISING AS THE SENATE:Under 55 Percent: When the Electoral Pie Shrinks ... House Incumbents Are Vulnerable (Chris Cillizza, 11/14/02, Roll Call)
Only 49 victorious candidates - 22 Republicans and 27 Democrats - received 55 percent or less of the vote, the traditional low-water mark indicating a near-certain serious challenge in the following election cycle.
Of these narrow winners, only eight managed 50 percent of the vote or less, making them sure targets in 2004.
Republicans make up three-quarters of this most vulnerable list. [...]
Democratic worries will be centered on the Lone Star State as several supposedly safe incumbents won by surprisingly narrow margins in 2002.
Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D) won only 51 percent in his race against underfunded Abilene City Councilman Rob Beckham (R).
Though his district is Republican-friendly, Stenholm, a leading conservative House Democrat, has regularly won re-election rather easily. Stenholm's closest call previous to the 2002 election was in 1996, when dentistRudyIzzard (R) held him to 52 percent.
In the neighboring 11th district, seven-term Rep.Chet Edwards (D) also could find himself in a precarious position in 2004. He defeated 2000 nominee Ramsey Farley (R) 52 percent to 47 percent after a more convincing 55 percent showing in 2000.
Edwards was targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2002 and is likely to be an even higher priority next cycle.
Bush, the state's governor from 1994 to 2000, will headline the ticket in 2004 and is likely to draw at least as much support in his home base as he did in 2000. In that cycle, Bush would have won Stenholm's redrawn district with 72 percent and Edwards' district with 67 percent.
The potential for state House Republicans to remap the state's Congressional districts before the 2004 election could further hamper both Democrats' re-election chances in Texas.
72%? Mr. Stenholm has to be at least contemplating switching parties. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2002 10:45 PM