The WaPo adjusted the ingredients in their special secret polling sauce yesterday and - lo and behold the generic spread dropped to six. They've certainly knitted themselves a nice warm butt cover with that one. It may be that they read this Jay Cost piece and understood what he was explaining about a report on actual registration which does not in any way confirm any type of "Republican dissatisfaction". It may be that the WaPo cooked results are an outlier but the actual registration figures are 'real' count 'em on your fingers numbers and they do not show any real world shift.
It may also be that the WaPo gave some small thought to the truest of truisms in elections - nine out of ten incumbents hold their seats. A good scandal can pry them out and sometimes a poor economy - or a good scare by the Beast of Chatauqua - can shift enough votes to give them the boot. Otherwise they stay.
Did you know that the most expensive House election of '06 has already been held? The CA-50 special election held in conjunction with the California primary will be the single most expensive race of the year. The Moveon morons spent millions and the Reps gave a full test to both their ad campaign strategy and to their GOTV effort. The former incumbent in the district was as thoroughly disgraced as any Congressman has ever been (he's now serving eight years) and the district rewarded the Democrat challenger by giving her a whopping 1% additional support (in comparison to her previous losing efforts and Kerry's '04 performance). Bilbray (the new incumbent) is cruising toward victory in November. Small wonder considering that the district is showing good growth and good appreciation rates as well as a good increase in the percentage of the population owning their own homes.
I like 'real' numbers. If I can count something then I can come up with a simple metric involving quintiles and make an unweighted stab at a rationale for determining the outcome. The universe of seats that I'm looking at is composed of those outside the 5% threshold that Seneca mentioned in his post. The factors that I used to determine the outcome were:
1. Change in the population of under 18's in the district - fewer kids less optimism.
2. Increase in the percentage of home ownership within the district - first time owners are on their way to the Republican party.
3. Change in home value. A change that exceeds the inflation rate tends to give a feeling of economic security.
Those are economic demographic features involved, now the political:
4. Percentage shift between '02 and '04 - was there a discernible shift in the actual vote percentage.
5. Raw plurality from '02 - other things being equal how high a hill does the challenger have to climb to get to 50% +1.
6. Net difference in vote count between Republicans and Democrats from '02 to '04 - did the Republicans add more votes than the Democrats?
That's it for the track now for the horses:
1. Incumbency - single strongest factor. It's also irrelevant if there's a scandal hanging on the candidates neck.
2. Money raised - a very reliable indicator of candidate strength. Good candidates are money magnets.
3. "Q" - this a tough one because it's subjective (look at Bubba). It's still important enough to include - especially in open races.
Now the calls:
AZ-08 Graf/Giffords - Open seat - R loss
Outstanding Republican district which will be very hard for Giffords to hold in '08. Graf's appeal is single issue and he hasn't even drawn much money from the dedicated Tancretins. A decent candidate would have cruised in this district.
(If you like long shot parlays - this is a decent pick, the district could pull him through.)
CO-07 O'Donnell/Perlmutter Open Seat - R loss
This district is moderate in all respects. The district's political demographics are weak and O'Donnell just hasn't been able to get decent traction.
CT-04 Shays/Farrell Incumbent - R win
This is a dying district with weak political demographics and Shays really didn't work it correctly in '04. He'll win but it's going to be Groton pork that pulls him over the finish line.
FL-16 Negron/Mahoney - Open - R win
Very strong Republican demographics both economically and politically. Negron has a good Q and "Punch Foley for Negron" is a winning slogan.
FL-22 Shaw/Klein - Incumbent - R win
Shaw is a strong incumbent in a very strong district. This one should not even be on the board.
IA-01 Whalen/Braley - Open - R loss
A dying district with very weak Republican political demographics. Whalen seems a decent candidate and money isn't an issue but he doesn't look strong enough to carry this one off.
IL-06 Roskam/Duckworth Open - R win
Another dying district but with good Republican political demographics and a very strong candidate. Duckworth is a very low Q candidate and is counting on the Emily's Lister/Moveon morons to carry her across the line. Ain't gonna happen.
IN-08 Hostettler/Ellsworth - Incumbent - R loss
Weak district - weak candidate
KY-03 Northrup/Yarmuth - Incumbent - R win
This district is weak economically but strong politically. Northrup has a decent Q and did a great job in raising money.
NC-11 Taylor/Schuler - Incumbent - R loss
The district has poor economic demographics and is politically weak. Taylor's abrasive personality gives him a lower Q than Shuler and his 'independence' means that the GOTV in his district probably won't save him.
NM-01 Wilson/Madrid - Incumbent - R win
The district is stronger politically than it is economically - but not much. Madrid's missing Q factor makes this one a bit easier for Wilson than it otherwise might have been. Madrid is another Emily's Lister/Moveon schlub.
NY-24 Meier/Arcuri - Open - R loss
Lousy economic factors and worse political ones. Meier didn't draw much financial support and neither candidate has a significant Q factor. Dying districts are tough to hold.
NY-29 Kuhl/Massa - Incumbent - R win
Terrible economic factors but decent political ones. Kuhl's incumbency status should carry him through.
OH-15 Pryce/Kilroy - Incumbent - R win
Another dying district with weak political demographics. Pryce has been around the block enough times and raised a sufficient war chest to carry her back to DC.
OH-18 Padgett/Space - Open - R loss
Ney's former district. Lousy economics but strong political demographics. Both candidates have the Q of dried seaweed but scandal will give this to Space. Who won't hold it in '08.
PA-07 Weldon/Sestak - Incumbent - R loss
Lousy economics, indifferent political demographics and a nice scandal.
(This is another long shot parlay - Weldon has a lot of money and is as tough as nails.) It's a shame that he's also as bright as nails.
PA-10 Sherwood/Carney - Incumbent - R loss
Another one with lousy economics and lousy political demographics. This one has the added Democratic advantage of a tainted incumbent.
TX-22 Sekula-Gibbs/Lampson - Open - R loss
DeLay's old seat. Great economics and political demographics but the write in factor will be very tough to overcome. Lampson will be a one termer.
(This is the third long shot parlay - and the best long shot in the field.)
WI-08 Gard/Kagen - Open - R win
Moderate economic factors and a strong Republican political demographic plus Gard's good Q rating make this a hold.
Of these nineteen seats the Republicans lose ten - and hold the House unless at least five other seats fall to the Democrats while the Republicans don't win a single seat.