House elections in Texas

June 23, 2010

Texas is boring. Maybe not as a state, maybe not even in its politics. But when it comes to House races, there’s not much excitement to see. Part of this is due to some impressive gerrymandering, but a lot of it is simply that Texas has deep blue cities and deep red everywhere else. This means there’s not much in the way of swing districts, and it shows. All the expert sites out there only mention two Dem held seats that are possible pickup points, and I can’t see much reason to argue with them. It’s going to take a lot more than Tea Party enthusiasm to knock out the urban districts, after all. The good news, however, is that the reverse is also true. There’s really no reason to be worried about defense this year. Really, the only wrinkle is how the immigration debate will impact the moderately Hispanic districts (the heavily Hispanic ones are basically a lock for Dems anyway).

Note: for all potentially competitive seats, I’ll include in paranthesis which of the big three issues the incumbent voted for (ST: stimulus, CT: Cap & Trade, HC: health care).

Dem held seats – 12
Safe seats – 10
9) Al Green vs Steve Mueller (D+22)
15) Ruben Hinojosa vs Eddie Zamora (D+3)
16) Silvestre Reyes vs Tim Besco (D+10)
18) Sheila Jackson Lee vs John Faulk (D+24)
20) Charlie Gonzalez vs Clayton Trotter (D+8)
25) Lloyd Doggett vs Donna Campbell (D+6)
27) Solomon Ortiz vs Blake Farenthold (R+2)
28) Henry Cuellar vs Bryan Underwood (D+0)
29) Gene Green vs Roy Morales (D+8)
30) Eddie Johnson vs Stephen Broden (D+27)

First of all, it should come as no surprise that those double-digit PVI seats are safe. Just be happy the GOP managed to find someone to run in them; two of those seats were unopposed in 2008. While TX-15 looks competitive on paper, it’s a rematch of 2008, where Zamora only got 32% of the vote. That’s too much ground to make up. The 28th district also looks promising, but it’s heavily Hispanic and the white Underwood has little fundraising and little presence. Dr. Campbell has the same problem in the 25th district, albeit doing a bit better on the fundraising front. But when Doggett has never gone below 65% of the vote, I have a hard time seeing an insurgent victory here. I almost considered the 27th district to be a potentially competitive seat, but Ortiz is a long term Congressman in a heabily Hispanic district who’s been winning by 20 points recently. But if there is going to be a dark horse victory here, that’s the seat it will be.

Competitive seats – 1
23) Ciro Rodriguez (ST, HC) vs Francisco Canseco (R+4)
Quico Canseco is a perennial candidate, although this is his first primary victory. While that doesn’t spell good news, the fact is that he’s Hispanic (hey, it’s demographics; I hate it too…), wealthy, has a decent operation, and solid conservative credentials. He’s big on border control (which should be good for voters along the, y’know, border), and has been hitting Rodriguez on his health care vote and his lack of town hall meetings. A recent internal poll from Quico has him down only 48-45, which isn’t too bad. But the incumbent near 50 already? This one will clearly be difficult. But if Rodriguez can be successfully tied to Pelosi and Obama, and if Canseco can raise his name recognition, he could have a chance here.

Lean Takeover seats – 1
17) Chet Edwards (ST) vs Bill Flores (R+20)
Yeah, you saw that right. R+20. This is the most conservative district in the US that is held by a Dem. And Edwards has held it primarily by distancing himself from the national Dem party. Yet his luck can only last so long. In 2008, he won 53-45 against an underfunded challenger, and he now has a serious challenge from businessman Bill Flores, who’s done well with fundraising and in garnering name recognition. Flores, for his part, is planning on tying Edwards to Obama (who only received 32% of the vote here) and as someone not serious about fiscal discipline. And it may work out: a Republican poll conducted in May has Flores up 53-41. Yeah, it’s a partisan poll, but that’s some serious distance between the two. If not for Edwards’ past skills at winning here, I’d say this one would be in the bag.

Rep held seats – 20
Safe seats – 19
1) Louis Gohmert unopposed (R+21)
2) Ted Poe unopposed (R+13)
3) Sam Johnson vs John Lingenfelder (R+14)
4) Ralph Hall vs Valinda Hathcox (R+21)
5) Jeb Hensarling vs Tom Berry (R+17)
6) Joe Barton vs David Cozad (R+15)
7) John Culberson unopposed (R+17)
8) Kevin Brady vs Kent Hargett (R+25)
10) Michael McCaul vs Ted Ankrum (R+10)
11) Mike Conaway vs James Quillian (R+28)
12) Kay Granger vs Tracey Smith (R+16)
13) Mac Thornberry unopposed (R+29)
14) Ron Paul vs Robert Pruett (R+18)
19) Randy Neugebauer vs Andy Wilson (R+26)
21) Lamar Smith vs Lainey Melnick (R+14)
22) Pete Olson vs Kesha Rogers (R+13)
24) Kenny Marchant vs Alex Dunaj (R+11)
26) Michael Burgess vs Neil Durrance (R+13)
31) John Carter unopposed (R+14)

Considering that all the seats have a double digit advantage in PVI, you know there’s not much to be worried about. A few key races: Hall is 85 years old in the 4th district, which is really the only reason you might worry that he won’t make it. In the 10th, McCaul has not been winning by much recently (54-43 in 2008), but this race is a rematch of 2006 where he won by 15 points in a worse year for Reps. Pete Olsen’s a freshman in the 22nd, but he lucked out when the LaRouche advocate Kesha Rogers won her primary. She’ll get no support from the establishment, although maybe running on an “Impeach Obama” platform will help her… And while this is Ron Paul’s first election after gaining national attention and thus may get more skepticism, his opponent doesn’t seem like much. All told, none of the Dem opponents look like top tier candidates (none has raised more than $50k so far), so things should be safe all around.

Potentially competitive seats – 1
32) Pete Sessions vs Grier Raggio (R+8)
This appears to be the token race the Dems are interested in. In all fairness, they could have a decent shot if 2010 is similar to 2008. After all, the demographics are trending away from Republicans very quickly in this district, and it likely won’t be an R+8 seat much longer (if it still is). Raggio is a serious candidate, an attourney who has raised ~$150k so far, and has the backing of the Dem establishment. Sessions, meanwhile, won by 16 points last year to an underfunded and undercampaigned opponent. The Dems would dearly love to pick off the NRCC chair, but he has raised over $1 million, and he did win by 16 in a heavily Dem year. Frankly, I’m not worried.

Final Thoughts
Not much is happening in Texas this year. I think if the Republicans can take TX-17, we should all be happy. After all, it’s already a 20-12 advantage for Reps in a state with a few large cities and a huge Hispanic population. Needless to say, being far far away from the border (well, the Mexican border, that is), it’s hard for me to get a feel for how the immigration debate will affect the results. But I see no reason to disagree with the experts who see Texas as not changing too many incumbents.

Previous analyses


House Elections in Indiana

May 16, 2010

In 2006, Indiana was the harbinger of doom for Republicans. With their polls closing early and three vulnerable Rep-held seats, you knew the election would be bad when all three of them fell. With any luck, 2010 can be the reverse. All three of those seats are once again competitive, and perhaps all three can switch back to Red. It’ll still be tough to do, but tough is not impossible. So while the Senate seat is the big draw here, keep your eye on the House as well.

The big question is whether or not the 2008 election was an anomaly or not. Indiana’s swing left was, if I recall correctly, the largest in the nation. How a state that went from a reliably Republican state surrounded by blue states to voting for Obama (this is despite the fact that he only got ~50% in the primary against Hillary) is beyond me. Even weirder, it happened at the same time that the state was reelecting Mitch Daniels (the mild-mannered version of Chris Christie) as governor by a wide margin. So is Indiana’s experiment with leftism over? We hope so.

During the primary, we had proof that the Tea Party is very active in the state, but unfortunately their presence can be summed up as “close but no cigar.” While Stutzman’s challenge of Coats was well known, two Republican incumbents in the House were nearly picked off, and would have been if the anti-incumbent votes weren’t split. Let us hope they don’t become discouraged by these results, and that there’s still enough enthusiasm in November.
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Respect for taxpayer’s money, or lack thereof

January 26, 2010

Much ado has been made regarding the expense accounts of Congress on their little Copenhagen escapade. It seems that global warming has raised the price of hotel rooms to a whopping $2000 per night, according to a report by CBS (via HotAir):
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40 in 2010: WV-01

January 4, 2010

There’s a lot of talk about the realignment shift, wherein conservative southern Democrats turn Republican while liberal northeast Republicans turn Democrats. Well, the liberal northeast Republicans have turned, but the southern Democrats are still hesitating. So will Nancy Pelosi be the one to finally be the catalyst to get a southern revolution? Who knows. But sometimes you feel there’s a perfect storm brewing, and if it doesn’t happen now, it never will. That’s probably not the case for all districts, but it just might be the case in West Virginia.

West Virginia 01
Location: The northern third of the state. It doesn’t contain Charleston or any other large cities, but does include WV University. It’s fairly rural, a bit blue-collar-ish, almost purely white, and supposedly fairly conservative.
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40 in 2010: CO-07

December 21, 2009

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 41 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 92 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

One of the most important parts of getting a wave election is to attack as many places as possible. Make the other party defend more seats than they want to. Obviously, part of this is simply to spread out the other party’s resources, but on the flip side it spreads out your party too. Given the RNCC’s fundraising so far, that’s not necessarily a good thing. But the other reason to do this is that a long shot still has a chance of winning. With more challenges, you create more momentum. With more momentum, you have a chance to win. I doubt the RNCC is looking much at this seat; nobody seriously thinks they’ll win it. But they seem to have a strong candidate, so why not make the Democrats sweat a bit?

Colorado 07
Location: The suburbs of Denver. It basically surrounds Denver on three sides, and then a long rural section in the northeast. Mostly urban, and supposedly purple.
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40 in 2010: AR-02

November 29, 2009

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 41 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 92 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

During the 06 and 08 cycles, there was a lot of talk (particularly among the left side of the internet) of the Republicans becoming a regional party. With the last Republican Congressman ousted from New England, it was claimed that before long the only Rs in the nation was going to be in the South. And needless to say, there was a lot of crowing about this. But what was never mentioned was the other side of the coin. With all the partisanship going on, there’s the possibility of Democrats becoming a regional party too. With the hard-left turn the Ds have made in recent time, suddenly there may be a lot of conservative Democrats wondering where their loyalties lie. And there’s a lot of long time Congressional Ds that may be sweating now. Don’t believe me? Just look at the polling. Read the rest of this entry »

40 in 2010: IL-14

November 18, 2009

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 41 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 89 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

Illinois is fairly unique in that their filing deadline is very early, being one year before the actual election. In other words, the deadline is passed, and we know exactly who’s going to be available in the primaries for all races. Because of that, there’s a lot less uncertainty for IL races compared to the rest of the nation right now. There’s a few interesting House races, but only one good solid chance of a pickup. Read the rest of this entry »