I've been working on this one for a while, adding and subtracting, rethinking and so on. But I think I've finally got it where I want it. I now predict that Democrats will win 21 seats currently held by the GOP in the November election. Conversely, the GOP will win no Democratic seats.
Here's how it breaks down:
Dem. House pickups
Arizona, District 8
Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe is retiring, and his shoes will be filled by a Democrat. For reasons that I don’t claim to understand, the national GOP party has refused to back GOP candidate Randy Graf, pretty much conceding this district to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords. It seems like a petulant move, with Arizona Republicans voting for Graf in the GOP primary over the Republican Party’s chosen one, Steve Huffman. Either way, it’s a win for Giffords and the Dems.
Colorado, District 7
Republican Bob Beauprez is running for governor, and his seat is being contested by Republican Rick O’Connell and Democrat Ed Perlmutter. Some polls have Perlmutter leading by as many as 20 points, and this district went to Kerry in the 2004 election. Nuff said.
Connecticut, District 2
Republican Rob Simmons is simply a casualty of the times. This district went Kerry by more than 10 points in 2004. No other incumbent Republican in the country has a district that went to Kerry by double digits. Worse, sentiment toward Republicans in this district has only grown more sour in the last two years. Ignore polls that give Simmons a 12- or 14-point lead over admittedly goofy Joe Courtney. This race is Courtney’s to lose.
Connecticut, District 4
Despite his popularity in the district, Republican Christopher Shays has been unable to shake Democrat Diane Farrell. Kerry won here in 2004 by 6 points, and Shays himself only won re-election by a 4 point margin that year, and that was also against Farrell, but in a much kinder climate.
Connecticut, District 5
As in Florida’s District 22, long-term incumbency is a problem this time around, as Washington is seen as a corrupting influence, one whose likelihood at corrupting a politician increases exponentially the longer the politician is there. Republican Nancy Johnson has held this seat for 24 years. Democrat Chris Murphy is tied with her in the polls. With a bit of cash infusion to country the $2.6 million Johnson has on hand, he should pull this off.
Florida, District 16
If Mark Foley’s old district goes GOP, I will personally eat a cow. Although Republican Joe Negron is now running, GOP voters will have to check the Foley box — not bloody likely. Democrat Tim Mahoney should take this easily.
Florida, District 22
Between the Foley scandal, the anger over the rip-off prescription drug plan among seniors (this district is full of’em) and the fact that Kerry took this district by 4 points, Republican Clay Shaw, after more than two decades of so-so representation will finally get kicked to the curb, replaced by Democrat Ron Klein.
Illinois, District 6
The polls have this district tied up between Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republican Peter Roskam. But I haven’t seen any polls that came out since the last debate, in which Roskam idiotically accused Duckworth of wanting to “cut and run” in Iraq, a country in which Duckworth recently left both of her legs.
Indiana, District 2
Incumbent Republican Chris Chocola is trailing in the polls to Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re an incumbent and you’re trailing, you’re probably screwed.
Indiana, District 8
Democratic challenger Brad Ellsworth is leading Republican incumbent Jeff Hostettler by double digits. Period.
Iowa, District 1
This open seat, formerly Republican, is the Democrats’ to lose. Republican Mike Whalen has not led in a single poll, the district went to Kerry by 7 points in 2004, and Democrat Bruce Braley has thus far defined the race, despite Whalen’s desperate attempts to paint him as “anti-troop.”
Minnesota, District 6
Former Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy is in the midst of a losing battle for an open Senate seat against Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Democrat Patty Wetterling, who lost to Klobuchar in the Democratic Senate primary, will beat out Republican Michele Bachmann for this seat. At a time when Bush and the far-right are looking crazier and crazier, running an extreme conservative like Bachmann in a relatively moderate district was a foolish notion.
Nevada, District 3
Tessa Hafen should squeal by to take out Incumbent Jon Porter, for several reasons. First, though most political handicappers insist on calling the 3rd district “Republican,” Bush won by only 1 percentage point, 50-49, in 2004. Additionally, Porter was last re-elected with only 54 percent of the vote. Plus, a minimum-wage bill on the ballot will help ensure a large Democratic turnout. All these things add up to victory for Hafen, the little substitute teacher who could.
New Mexico, District 1
Incumbent Republican Heather Wilson, who earlier this year was considered a possibility for a Senate run against Jeff Bingaman, will go down to Democratic contender Patricia Madrid. The latest polls have the pair tied, but Wilson won re-election last time by a relatively narrow margin of 8 points, and this district went to Kerry by 3 points in 2004.
Ohio, District 1
Democrat John Cranley has successfully painted Republican incumbent Steve Chabot as a Bush stooge. Chabot, meanwhile, has failed to counter this, instead screaming about immigration – a somewhat silly issue to harp on in this middle-of-the-Midwest, landlocked district.
Ohio, District 18
After Bob Ney went down to federal bribery charges, Republican Joy Padgett replaced him. But being the successor to the corrupt Ney, and having formerly worked in the office of Ohio governor Bob Taft, perhaps the most unpopular governor in American history, means that Padgett doesn’t have much of a chance against Democrat Zack Space.
Pennsylvania, District 6
Despite several recent polls showing incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach with a fairly substantial lead, Democratic challenger Lois Murphy has been leading – or at least close – for most of the race, and there’s no reason not to think these recent polls are outliers.
Pennsylvania, District 7
Republican Curt Weldon must be the most vulnerable incumbent in the state. Democratic former admiral Joe Stesak now leads by a couple points. According to another poll, only a third of voters think Weldon deserves to be re-elected.
Pennsylvania, District 8
As sentiment turns against the Iraq War, Democrat Patrick Murphy, a former Army captain and veteran of that war who now calls for its end, looks better and better against Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick, who offers the usual “stay the course” platitudes.
Pennsylvania, District 10
Incumbent Republican Don Sherwood, a confirmed adulterer and alleged basher, will probably get smoked by Chris Carney, if only because so-called “values voters” will stay home on election day.
Texas, District 22
Alleged money launderer Tom DeLay’s old district is a shoe-in for Democrat Nick Lampson, who faces a write-in vote by Republicans.
Not a damn one. I see no race in the country in which Republicans stand a serious chance of overtaking a Democratic seat.
Thus, the totals after the election:
Democrats – 223 seats
Republicans – 212 seats
Say hello to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee John Conyers. Now let the investigations begin!