Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where Will the GOP Make Gains in 2010?

Summary: Should Republicans target conservative rural districts or moderate suburban districts?

Assuming the Republicans pick up a few seats in Congress next year, what kind of districts can we expect them to pick up?

Based on recent ad buys from the NRCC, it seems that Republicans believe the seats they pick up will be from more rural areas in traditionally red states. Recently they released this basic ad attacking veteran Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Vic Snyder (D-AR), and John Spratt Jr. (D-SC) for their support of the House healthcare bill:

Now, has each of these districts as either likely Democratic or safe Democratic going into next year - but all three went for McCain in 2008, which was a good year for Democrats. Republicans now hope that enough discontent with the Democrats has built up in these districts so that the incumbency effect won’t play out in 2010.

At the same time, other Democrats are beginning to feel threatened about losing their blue-leaning suburban districts next year, which they see as the obvious point for Republican attack.

From a recent article in Politico:

Suburban Democrats are bracing to defend their recent gains amid unmistakable signs of volatility among an electorate that is impatient with the pace of economic recovery.

Their concerns are coming into sharp focus amid ongoing developments in Nassau County, N.Y., where County Executive Tom Suozzi, a rising star in New York politics and a prominent suburban Democratic politician, might lose his seat in a recount.

Suozzi’s predicament comes on the heels of other troubling developments in some of the nation’s largest suburban counties, including nearby Democratic Westchester County, where voters tossed out County Executive Andrew Spano in a startling upset Nov. 3…

…That sentiment applied up and down the East Coast in the 2009 off-year elections, as suburbanites registered their discontent by rejecting Democratic incumbents, even in typically blue-tinted counties.

Across the Hudson River, in New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine lost his reelection bid, and his Republican opponent came within striking distance of victory in suburban Bergen County, a Democratic area and the largest county in the state. Gov.-elect Chris Christie also bested Corzine in Middlesex County, a suburban bellwether that President Barack Obama won by 22 points in 2008.

In the Virginia governor’s race, the news for Democrats was hardly better: Republican Bob McDonnell trounced Democrat Creigh Deeds in nearly every suburban Northern Virginia county that supported Obama last year. The only holdouts, Arlington County and the city of Alexandria, were the closest municipalities to Washington.

…“Suburban voters tend to be independent, intelligent, and they listen and they make up their minds,” [says Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA)] “They would take a chance on Chris Christie rather than electing Jon Corzine. McDonnell ran a much better campaign than Deeds did.”

Of course, there still haven’t been any races that suggest Democrats will do poorly in the suburbs in federal races, in which local issues do not play as large of a roll. In fact, Democrats actually picked up a rural red-leaning district in 2009 on the federal side.

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