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GOP Struggling to Find Opportunities for Pickups in U.S. House Races

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Yesterday's blog entry detailed how the Democratic Party has become increasingly competitive on a number of dimensions in challenging GOP-held U.S. House districts from 2002 to 2006. Today Smart Politics examines how Republicans have fared along these same measures—is the GOP becoming more or less competitive in Democratic-held districts?

Overall, the numbers are not good for the Republican Party. To begin with, the number of districts in which the GOP failed to even field a challenger was at a post-redistricting high in 2006 (45 races -- more than four times as many districts in which Democrats failed to run a candidate).

Additionally, an increasing number of Republican challengers are flailing in "blow out" races decided by between 50 and 99 points: rising from 32 districts in 2002, to 36 districts in 2004, to 42 districts in 2006.

Similarly, more and more Republican challengers are losing in "very uncompetitive" races decided by between 30 and 49 points: from 70 in 2002, to 73 in 2004, to 83 in 2006.

Democrats are also facing fewer and fewer Republicans breathing down their neck in Democratic-held districts on the cusp of being competitive -- those races decided by between 11 and 29 points -- dropping from 51 in 2004 to 27 in 2006.

Lastly, the number of Democratic districts that are only narrowly-held have fallen from 17 in 2002, to 7 in 2004, to 6 in 2006.

In sum, the Republicans are facing two big problems when looking at trends in party competitiveness:

1. The universe of competitive and near competitive Democratic-held districts has fallen noticeably, providing fewer and fewer good opportunities for GOP pickups in 2008.

2. Secondly, as outlined yesterday, the opportunities for Democratic pick-ups in competitive and near competitive Republican-held districts have risen greatly in the past four years.

Previous post: Seeds for Democratic Gains In U.S. House Actually Planted in 2004
Next post: Many Familiar Faces To Depart Capitol Hill After '06 Election

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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