Prioritizing House Races by State Delegation Control
by Crazy Vaclav, Thu Jul 20, 2006 at 11:47:02 AM EDT
We do a lot of chewing over which House races should get the most money and resource support here. Well, here's an added wrinkle that I started thinking about... which races would do the most to determine whether Democrats or Republicans control a particular state's House delegation?
Why on earth should that matter, you might ask? Partly, there's just the symbolism; Republicans can claim a 30-17 edge with 3 ties the way the House is currently composed, and that just plain looks bad. But a little-known tidbit is that if the Presidential election is thrown into the House, the election within the House isn't conducted with each Representative getting a vote. Instead, each state's delegation gets one vote. So, while neither is likely, suppose the 2008 election winds up with a 269-269 tie, or a vengeful McCain/Lieberman 3rd party ticket means no ticket breaks 270 EVs. Even if the Democrats control the House at that point (the House-brokered election would be based on the new House seated in January 2009), they could still lose the presidency because the Republicans control the majority of state delegations.
With that in mind, here are the states where flipping one House seat would also flip us that state's House delegation. There are eleven of them:
Alaska (D 0/R 1): The AL seat isn't in play.
Colorado: (D 3/R 4): CO-07 (Beauprez's open seat) is low-hanging fruit, near the top of almost everyone's pick-up list.
Connecticut (D 2/R 3): Pick your poison: CT-02 (Simmons) seems likeliest, but 04 and 05 are on the table too.
Delaware (D 0/R 1): Not a factor as long as Castle (AL) stays put.
Georgia (D 6/R 7): I had no idea we were within striking distance in Georgia. Seems more like we're playing defense this cycle with Marshall and Barrow, though.
Missouri (D 4/R 5): All nine Missouri seats seem pretty set in stone. MO-08 is marginal territory, but Emerson is entrenched.
Montana (D 0/R 1): Rehberg (AL) could be vulnerable in another cycle, but haven't much of anything about it this time.
Nevada (D 1/R 2): NV-03 should be a key target in a swing district. Tessa Hafen is underfunded; send money (and guns).
New Mexico (D 1/R 2): NM-01 is absolute top-tier, as we probably all know. Wilson is vulnerable.
Utah (D 1/R 2): Considering how red Utah is, I'm glad we have one seat there.
Wyoming (D 0/R 1): All of a sudden Trauner looks like he's in striking distance for the AL seat. Kind of a reach, but worth the financial investment in such a dirt-cheap media market.
There are also three seats where there's a tie. Two of them we're poised to break the tie.
Minnesota: (D 4/R 4): MN-06 (Kennedy's open seat) takes on key importance here. MN-01 is in striking distance too, so I won't leave it out.
Mississippi (D 2/R 2): Probably no movement here any time soon. What's galling is we were actually up 3/2 before they lost a seat in 2002 to contraction.
Wisconsin (D 4/R 4): WI-08 (Green's open seat) may be a bit of stretch, as it's in the red part of the state, but it seems to show up in the lean-R category a lot.
Some wiseacre might point out that New Jersey is technically tied right now at D 6/R 6. That will soon change once another Dem is elected to fill NJ-13 (Menendez's safe seat).
I'm going to add a couple special cases as well: Indiana and Pennsylvania. They look out of reach at D 2/R 7 and D 7/R 12, but there are enough seats in play that we can flip them by running the table in each one. If we pick up IN-02 (Chocola), IN-08 (Hostettler), IN-09 (Hill), PA-06 (Gerlach), PA-07 (Weldon), and PA-08 (Fitzpatrick), suddenly we're at D 5/R 4 in Indiana and D 10/R 9 in Pennsylvania. One last possibility is New Hampshire: both NH-01 (Bradley) and NH-02 (Bass) are classified as lean-R, so, while it's unlikely, we could flip NH or at least knock it back to a tie by mastering Bass.
Are we playing defense anywhere? Only one place, really. The states where we have a one-seat edge in the House delegations are Illinois (D 10/R 9), the aforementioned New Jersey, North Dakota (D 1/R 0), South Dakota (D 1/R 0), Tennessee (D 5/R 4... who knew?), Vermont (D 1/R 0, counting Bernie as one of us), and West Virginia (D 2/R 1). The only cause for worry is the AL seat in Vermont, which seems in play. (OK, conceivably we could lose in IL-08 (Bean) or WV-01 (Mollohan), but probably not.)
So, here's the master plan. Win CO-07, CT-02, NV-03, NM-01, IN-02, IN-08, IN-09, PA-06, PA-07, PA-08, MN-06, and WI-08 (and hold the line in VT-AL), and we've flipped six states and broken two ties, and suddenly turned that 30-17 Republican edge in a House-brokered election into a 25-24 Democratic edge (with MS still tied). (And for insurance, win NH-02 and make it 25-23 by dropping NH to a tie.)