Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Data and Analysis for the 2010 Elections

Summary: WAYLA looks through the recent trends and makes a few 2010 predictions.

Like everyone else has been doing, I thought I’d use today to review the updates from the Cook Political Report and the recent Gallup poll that find Republicans gaining popularity.

First, the Gallup findings

And it shouldn’t be any real surprise that much of the GOP gains are due to increasing support among independents.

Still, Gallup seems to suggest that a generic ballot is more telling than it really is. Voters don’t select the party they want to see in power, they choose individual candidates. So let’s take a look at the Cook Political Report.

As far as House seats go, I don’t think the Democrats have much to worry about at this point. CPR indicates that 15 seats are toss-ups, 12 of which are held by Democrats. Furthermore, 21 seats are labeled “leaning Democratic” - usually because they’re currently held by a Democrat, but nonetheless it’s a moderately conservative seat. Still, even if the Democratic candidate was to lose all of these seats, the party would still control the House during the 112th Congress.

Even that’s unlikely. In fact, Democrats will probably pick up a few seats, particularly from Democratic-leaning districts currently held by Republicans that plan to move up the political ladder - such as the seats held by Congressmen Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mike Castle (R-DE) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA).

Some Democrats - such as Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) - have already decided not to pursue higher office, in part no doubt, because the district would likely turn red otherwise. All in all, there are only 3 competitive open-seat races in districts held by Democrats.

For more analysis on this, check out the two posts by’s Tom Schaller here and here.

At this point, I think it’s doubtful that Democrats will lose more than 10 to 15 net seats in the House next year.

The Senate is another story.

While only 10 are open seats and - of those - only 6 are toss-ups, there are a lot of states where incumbent senators are vulnerable.

We all know that Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) are at risk - but two names we haven’t mentioned are Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) who are both in the “lean Dem” category.

Seeing as next year will be a better year for Republicans, I can’t see the GOP candidate losing in a few open seat races like those in Missouri, Texas, and Kentucky - but I do think the Democrats have a shot at picking up the seats in Louisiana (thanks to many missteps from Sen. Vitter), Ohio, and New Hampshire.

It’s tough to say what will happen in Delaware and Florida will probably come down to who wins the GOP primary. Pennsylvania will be another interesting race to watch, which is something we’ve known since Sen. Specter switched parties earlier this year.

All in all, I doubt that the Democrats will lose more than 6 net seats in the Senate - leaving them enough to still control the chamber.

For more analysis, see Politico’s 10 Senate Districts Most Likely to Flip.

Finally, gubernatorial races will be another area to watch, in part because there are 21 open seats (see the map below).

Currently Democrats control 19 of the 37 gubernatorial seats on the ballot next year - the other 18 held by the GOP. A few of those Democratic seats - Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Colorado - are likely to be extremely competitive, and could go red.

However, the same is true for a handful of GOP seats - including Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Hawaii - which could easily go blue.

It’s impossible to make any solid conclusions at this point, but I would doubt the Democrats lose more than 5 net Governor Mansions.

If you do want to know what to watch for going into next year, check out this video from Politico:

For more analysis on all of these 2010 elections, make sure to check out the articles and op-eds on Politico’s new 2010 page.

I’ll continue more on some of these ideas tomorrow as I explain what both Democrats and Republicans will want to do in order to win the most support.

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