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US House Snapshot: Republicans Brace for More Losses

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Media coverage of the 2008 election is rightly centered at the moment on the fascinating 2008 presidential race; any remaining coverage seems to be focused on the U.S. Senate – and whether or not the Democrats can turn in a miraculous performance in 2008 to achieve a filibuster-proof majority, as they did in 2006 to win a bare majority.

Perhaps the battle for the U.S. House is not receiving as much notice because Democrats already hold a 236 to 199 seat advantage. This lead is already larger than any held by the Republicans throughout their reign from 1994-2006 (holding a peak 30-seat advantage after the 2004 elections). Democrats have not held as small an advantage over the GOP as it currently enjoys since the 1956 election (234 to 201).

In 2008 Democrats can expect to make further gains in the House – perhaps ultimately approaching their 258 to 176 lead they held going into the 1994 elections. There are several reasons to expect a big Democratic victory in the House come November:

· Democrats have consistently held a 10+ point lead in generic congressional matchup polling. Republican strategists have attempted to link Congress’ low approval rating with trouble for the Democrats in November; to that Democrats answered in mid-May with a stunning special election victory, picking up a seat in (conservative) northern Mississippi. In short, Republicans are still scrambling to pick up the pieces after 2006.

· Republicans will be defending more than three times as many open seats (27) as will the Democrats (8).

· Of the 202 seats won by the GOP in 2006, 78 were decided by less than 20 points (39 percent), and 134 were decided by less than 30 points (66 percent). Of the 233 seats won by the Democrats in 2006, just 41 were decided by less than 20 points (18 percent) and only 63 were decided by less than 30 points (27 percent). In other words, more than twice as many Republican seats are vulnerable to pick-ups than Democratic seats.

· Democrats have the luxury of 125 ‘safe seats’ – those decided by 30 points or more in the 2006 election; an additional 45 Democrats did not even face a Republican challenger. Republicans only won 58 blowout victories of 30 points or more and did not face a Democratic challenger in just 10 additional races.

All the stars are therefore aligned for the Democrats to score a big victory in the U.S. House – even in the event that John McCain should win a competitive election against Barack Obama.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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