March 9, 2009


Nearly Three Dozen GOP House Winners Dodged Obama’s Coattails (Greg Giroux, 3/09/09, CQ)

Some of the most competitive congressional races of 2010 will be in districts where voters split their ballots between Republicans for the House of Representatives and Democrat Barack Obama for the White House.

CQ Politics’ analysis of presidential election returns in all 435 congressional districts shows there are 34 that split that way — perhaps a testament to the durability of partisan voting habits in House races or maybe a further decline in the “coattails” effect.

Those split districts complement the 49 that favored Republican John McCain for president while helping the Democrats expand their congressional majority.

Any Republican who didn't lose his seat last November, after the House GOP made such a hash of the bailout, isn't going to lose it. But those McCain districts are low hanging fruit. The House is in play for a party that's supposedly dead.

Will Democrats Face a 1994 Repeat in 2010? (Sean Trende, 3/09/09, Real Clear Politics)

[D]emocrats are almost as overexposed in Congress today as they were in 1994. It is true that unlike the Democratic Congress in 1994, this year's Democratic caucus is comprised of fewer Representatives from the South. Rhodes Cook explores this more thoroughly in an excellent column titled "Not Your Father's Democratic Congress," but the bottom line is that compared to 1994, many more Democrats today hail from coastal areas than from the South.

But 1994 wasn't just a debacle for Democrats in the South. In fact, the South wasn't even their worst region in 1994. Of the fifty-six seats the Democrats lost to Republicans (Democrats also gained four Republicans open seats, leading to a net loss of fifty-two seats), only sixteen seats were from the South. This represented 13% of the Southern seats held by Democrats. In percentage terms, the Democrats' losses in the Midwest, Mountain West, Pacific coast, and Plains regions were worse. After the 1994 elections, Democrats still held 49% of the seats in the South. In other words, the less-Southern face of today's Democratic party should not be a source of comfort for them.

GOP sees its 2010 chances improve -- thanks to Obama: The president has filled his Cabinet with some of his party's top political players, making it easier for Republicans to defend Senate seats in Arizona and Iowa, and to compete for an open spot in Kansas. (Mark Z. Barabak, March 9, 2009, LA Times)
In some states, the president stole his party's strongest U.S. Senate prospects. In Illinois and New York, he watched as governors there botched efforts to fill vacated Senate seats, turning those solidly Democratic states into potential battlegrounds.

At this point, few analysts see a serious threat to the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate (though much will depend on the state of the economy in fall 2010). If anything, handicappers say, the party is likely to gain a few more Senate seats, after picking up 14 in the last two elections.

"Looking at the map overall, it's not good for Republicans," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "It's just a little bit less bad because of some of [Obama's] appointments."

Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, acknowledged "another challenging election cycle" for the party, with Republicans having to defend 19 of 36 Senate seats, including three in politically important states -- Florida, Ohio and Missouri -- where incumbents are retiring.

But, Walsh added, with Obama's Cabinet selections "a number of opportunities exist that weren't there several months ago."

Democratic strategists agree.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2009 6:55 AM
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