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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

September 3: Battlegrounds

It’s natural for people taking a national look at this year’s big political contests to think in terms of battlegrounds for categories of offices, like Senate, House, governors and so on. But when you start laying the various maps on top of each other, it becomes plain that there aren’t an enormous number of places where efficiencies can be obtained by benefiting from the same investments.
I noticed yesterday at Washington Monthly the slight overlap between Senate and House battlegrounds:

When you stare at lists of competitive House races, what stands out most is how little overlap there is with states holding competitive Senate races. The Cook Political Report currently has 38 House seats as highly competitive (either tossups or leans). A grand total of one of them–IA-03–is in a state with one of the barnburner Senate contests. So the money pouring into Senate races is unlikely to have much effect on the balance of power in the House.

Add in highly competitive gubernatorial and control-of-state-legislature contests, and you can find a few states with multiple contests of national interest. Iowa, again, has a state legislative chamber fight. Arkansas has a relatively close gubernatorial race in addition to its pivotal Senate race. Illinois has a close governor’s race and four reasonably competitive House races. Colorado has a close governor’s race to go with its Senate race and possibly a state legislative battle. If New Hampshire’s Senate race tightened up, it could make the Granite State, with two competitive House races and a fight for control of the State House, interesting. And strangest of all, Kansas could wind up with two competitive statewide races (Senate and governor).
Still, when everybody gets around to writing up their November 4 “races to watch” memos, there will be a lot of states listed, and relatively few places where the deal will definitively go down.

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