June 9, 2007


THE FRESHMAN FIFTEEN: Which House Members Will Carry their Weight in '08? (Isaac Wood and Larry J. Sabato, 6/07/07, U.Va. Center for Politics)

This month, the Crystal Ball has compiled an endangered species list of sorts: members of the House of Representatives who have their work cut out for them if they seek political survival beyond 2008. At this point, we can sort the vulnerable into two stacks: the "Freshman Fifteen" and the "Scandalous Six." We'll keep you in suspense by saving the latter for next week.

First up, we're taking a look at congressional newcomers (One Republican and 14 Democrats) who were freshly elected to the House last November and have yet to entrench themselves fully in Washington. Several of them--such as Jerry McNerney of California and Tim Mahoney of Florida--won in districts that would have easily stayed in GOP hands save for the fact that scandal-plagued incumbents mortally wounded themselves. Those unique circumstances won't be present in 2008, so these kinds of districts are natural pickup opportunities for the other side.

The strong anti-GOP waves we witnessed in 2006 may be somewhat tempered by the time of the next slate of elections. So it follows that several freshman Democrats in districts that are essentially toss-ups--or even normally favor Republicans--could be in grave danger if political winds shift. Still, keep this in mind: in 1976, just two of the 76 Democratic freshmen (3 percent) were defeated in the first election after the anti-Nixon Democratic wave in 1974. In 1996, two years after the Republican wave of 1994, 12 of the 73 Republican freshmen (16 percent) when down in defeat. In 2008, there will be a more modest number of Democratic freshmen standing for reelection (42 in total), but how many, if any, will they lose once the final votes are counted next November? Will it be one or two seats (á la 1976), six or seven seats (á la 1996) or some larger total unmatched in recent history?

Note what's distinctive about 1976 and 1996? Democrats nominated two evangelical white Southern governors. With either a woman, a black, or both at the top of the ticket, Democrats could easily get wiped out in such seats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2007 8:09 AM

But it isn't 1976 or '96. It's 2008.

Michael Moore is believed to be more credible than CNN (at time he might be).

Schools have churned out 30+ years of Oprahfied Metrosexuals who now vote with their wives...

...and whole swaths of the once reliable "right" are now suffering the consequences of American success by having to compete with another 3 billion people who were uncompetitive 20 and 30 years ago.

You can't have 30 years of the current culture rammed into your head from TV and schools, and not expect a Hillary or Obama to have a shot at winning.

Add to that their gaining controls of the power amassed under Bush (Patriot Act, KELO, Fairness Doctrine, Gore's financial involvememt in Google, etc etc etc) and it could be five minutes to midnight for the forces of civilization.

The "conventional" Bros Judd wisdom is usually on target, but '60-40' nation, and another "Republican Sweep of 2006" calls the optimism into question.

Posted by: Bruno at June 9, 2007 11:23 AM

"...five minutes to midnight for the forces of civilization."

Interesting that you use the terminology of the Doomsday Clock.

Posted by: Bryan at June 9, 2007 12:32 PM

You have to have never met a Mexican to think the intervening thirty years have improved the odds for a black candidate.

Posted by: oj at June 9, 2007 12:57 PM