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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

House Dems Running Strong for 2010

It’s a little early for high fives over at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but 15 months out, the DCCC ought to be encouraged by a new CQPolitics report indicating House Dems are in solid position for the 2010 elections. The report, by Greg Giroux and Bob Benenson, analyzes “100 congressional districts with races where either major party stands a chance of winning the seat” and concludes that the Dems House majority appears “secure.” Further,

The only three contests in which CQ Politics rates an advantage to the challenging party are all for seats now held by the Republicans and targeted by the Democrats…The Democrats’ two most vulnerable seats, currently rated Tossup, are in districts where McCain outran Obama by wide margins

The only other seat rated “tossup” in the report (NY 23) is now held by a Republican. CQPolitics provides updated ratings for all 435 House districts here, with links offering electoral and demographic data for each district and personal information about its representative.
Benenson and Giroux caution that “the party holding the White House often loses seats during a president’s first mid-terms” and a DCCC report in early June noted turnout concerns regarding two key constituencies:

African-Americans and college-age students turned out in considerable numbers for Obama, and it is far from clear whether they will do so again in the midterms. In fact, exit polls over the past few elections have shown that turnout for both groups has dropped in nonpresidential years.
For example, African-Americans made up 11 percent of all voters in 2004 and 13 percent of all voters in 2008, but only 10 percent of the 2006 midterm electorate. For younger voters, the drop-off is even more stark. Voters 18-29 years old constituted 18 percent of all voters in 2008 and 17 percent of all voters in 2004. But in the intervening 2006 midterm, they accounted for only 12 percent of all voters.

Mid-term turnout concerns notwithstanding, Giroux and Benenson conclude:

While at least some net gain is a very plausible possibility for the Republicans, it would take a huge reversal of political fortune for the party to reclaim a House majority. Of the 335 contests that CQ Politics’ election analysts rate as Safe for the incumbent party, 198 are currently Democratic (including that one vacant seat) and just 137 are Republican.
In addition, the Democrats are solidly favored in 31 of the 59 competitive contests for seats they currently hold, plus the Republican seat in Louisiana’s 2nd District. So if the Democrats were to win only their Safe seats and those rated Democrat Favored, they would have a total of 230 — well above the majority threshold of 218 seats.

It’s unclear at this juncture, what impact, if any, the current health care reform struggle in the House will have on Dems’ prospects, although it is hard to imagine it not helping if they pass a good bill.

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