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House districts on the knife’s edge

October 9th, 2012, 12:00pm by Sam Wang

At reader request, I will briefly go retail. What House seats might change parties?’s district-by-district breakdown gives a sense of which districts are in play, Here’s a left-leaning look (DailyKos, Speaker Pelosi Project) and a right-leaning look (RedRacingHorses) at the question. Note the similarity in districts selected.

Generally, the DCCC and NRSC cover this problem comprehensively. In addition, I have identified some specific districts that are of great interest to both sides. With some exceptions, these are drawn from tossup to lean-R districts in swing states. They are now added to a list at ActBlue – see left. Some are  known to be targeted for support by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Seven knife-edge Congressional districts:

CO-06: Joe Miklosi (D) has pulled within 3 points of Rep. Mike Coffman (R). Coffman has more money, but the DCCC is jumping in. (OpenSecrets) (KDVR)

FL-02: The two candidates are basically tied, yet the Democrat, Al Lawson, is underfunded. (DCCC) (OpenSecrets)

FL-10: The candidates are near-tied in support and money. Val Demings (D) hopes to unseat freshman Rep. Daniel Webster. (OpenSecrets)

MI-03: Democrat Steve Pestka is putting freshman Republican Justin Amash in jeopardy. (MichiganLive) (OpenSecrets)

OH-07: Both the DCCC  and NRCC are investing in this race. The Democratic challenger, Joyce Healy-Abrams, is making a late and underfunded move to overcome poor name recognition. (OpenSecrets)

CA-21: Although this race has not received DCCC support, it appears to be vulnerable, thanks to a growing Hispanic population. Hernandez really needs the money. (Hotline) (John Hernandez for House) (OpenSecrets)

CA-36: Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R), Sonny’s widow, is in surprising jeopardy. Her opponent, Raul Ruiz, has been out-fundraised, mainly because of Republican PAC money. (OpenSecrets)


Back to the global view. Although’s district-by-district breakdown may not fully reflect the state of post-convention play, it currently shows 188 D (169 strong, 19 lean) / 18 tossups /229 R (210 strong, 19 lean). However, the uncertainty is large, and much of the information is months old. For now, to calculate uncertainty, include tossups and 2/3 of the leaners. That gives

  • D 197 +/- 22, R 238 +/- 22 seats (R majority of 41 +/- 44 seats)

You can certainly see why bean-counters do not envision a change in control. But the uncertainty is consistent with my current bean-modeling prediction,

  • D 217.5 +/- 11, R 217.5 +/- 11 seats (R majority of 0 +/- 22 seats)

By Election Eve, the district-based estimate should become very accurate. Late in October 2008, I used district-level information to predict 257 +/- 3 Democratic seats – which came in right on the button. In coming weeks, I expect that the district-based estimator to move.

Tags: 2012 Election · House

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