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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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