Looking at the Cook Competitive Race Chart.

[UPDATE]: Welcome, Instapundit readers. And AoSHQ readers, too.

Looking at the Cook Political Report’s latest competitive race chart is in itself informative – the short version is that of the top 108 competitive races, the following ratios apply:

Likely D 45 0
Leans D 23 1
Toss-up D 12 0
Toss-up R 0 3
Leans R 1 8
Likely R 0 15
Total 81 27

…but there’s some interesting things that can be seen with a little sorting.  Below is a chart of competitive seats, sorted by Cook Partisan Rating:

TX-17 Chet Edwards R+20
ID-1 Walter Minnick R+18
AL-2 Bobby Bright R+16
MO-4 Ike Skelton R+14
IN-3 Mark Souder R+14
KS-4 OPEN (Tiahrt) R+14
MS-1 Travis Childers R+14
TN-6 Bart Gordon R+13
OH-2 Jean Schmidt R+13
AK-AL Don Young R+13
TN-3 OPEN (Wamp) R+13
MD-1 Frank Kratovil R+13
LA-3 OPEN (Melancon) R+12
AL-5 Parker Griffith R+12
VA-9 Rick Boucher R+11
GA-8 Jim Marshall R+10
ND-AL Earl Pomeroy R+10
SC-1 Henry Brown R+10
TX-10 Michael McCaul R+10
KY-6 Ben Chandler R+9
SD-AL Stephanie Herseth Sandlin R+9
SC-2 Joe Wilson R+9
AR-1 Marion Berry R+8
IN-8 Brad Ellsworth R+8
PA-10 Chris Carney R+8
MN-6 Michele Bachmann R+7
OH-18 Zack Space R+7
SC-5 John Spratt R+7
AZ-1 Ann Kirkpatrick R+6
FL-2 Allen Boyd R+6
NC-11 Heath Shuler R+6
PA-4 Jason Altmire R+6
CA-3 Dan Lungren R+6
CA-44 Ken Calvert R+6
NE-2 Lee Terry R+6
FL-12 OPEN (Putnam) R+6
CO-4 Betsy Markey R+6
NM-2 Harry Teague R+6
IN-9 Baron Hill R+6
TN-8 John Tanner R+6
CO-3 John Salazar R+5
FL-16 Tom Rooney R+5
VA-5 Tom Perriello R+5
AZ-5 Harry Mitchell R+5
AR-2 Vic Snyder R+5
NY-29 Eric Massa R+5
VA-2 Glenn Nye R+5
AZ-8 Gabrielle Giffords R+4
NY-13 Mike McMahon R+4
TX-23 Ciro Rodriguez R+4
FL-24 Suzanne Kosmas R+4
OH-16 John Boccieri R+4
KS-3 Dennis Moore R+3
PA-3 Kathy Dahlkemper R+3
CA-45 Mary Bono Mack R+3
NY-19 John Hall R+3
IN-2 Joe Donnelly R+2
NY-20 Scott Murphy R+2
VA-10 Frank Wolf R+2
FL-8 Alan Grayson R+2
MI-7 Mark Schauer R+2
NY-24 Michael Arcuri R+2
NC-8 Larry Kissell R+2
WI-8 Steve Kagen R+2
IL-8 Melissa Bean R+1
IL-11 Debbie Halvorson R+1
NJ-3 John Adler R+1
PA-12 John Murtha R+1
FL-10 C. W. Bill Young R+1
IL-13 Judy Biggert R+1
CA-11 Jerry McNerney R+1
IL-14 Bill Foster R+1
NY-23 Bill Owens R+1
MI-11 Thad McCotter R+0
MN-3 Erik Paulsen R+0
NH-1 Carol Shea-Porter R+0
NY-1 Tim Bishop R+0
WA-3 Brian Baird D+0
FL-22 Ron Klein D+1
GA-12 John Barrow D+1
IA-3 Leonard Boswell D+1
OR-5 Kurt Schrader D+1
OH-12 Patrick Tiberi D+1
OH-1 Steve Driehaus D+1
OH-15 Mary Jo Kilroy D+1
MI-9 Gary Peters D+2
OR-4 Peter DeFazio D+2
VA-11 Gerald Connolly D+2
PA-15 Charlie Dent D+2
NV-3 Dina Titus D+2
NY-25 Dan Maffei D+3
WA-8 Dave Reichert D+3
NH-2 OPEN (Hodes) D+3
PA-7 OPEN (Sestak) D+3
CA-18 Dennis Cardoza D+4
CA-47 Loretta Sánchez D+4
CO-7 Ed Perlmutter D+4
PA-11 Paul Kanjorski D+4
WI-3 Ron Kind D+4
PA-6 OPEN (Gerlach) D+4
CA-20 Jim Costa D+5
CT-4 Jim Himes D+5
IA-1 Bruce Braley* D+5
NM-1 Martin Heinrich D+5
IL-10 OPEN (Kirk) D+6
DE-AL OPEN (Castle) D+7
HI-1 OPEN (Abercrombie) D+11
LA-2 Joseph Cao D+25

As you can see, there are a lot of Democratic incumbents in districts that typically vote Republican in Presidential elections, and almost no Republican incumbents in districts that vote Democratic.  For that matter, something like 72% of the total competitive races are in Republican districts… which would sound like bad news for the GOP, except that Democratic-held seats make up 75% of both the total and particularly competitive races surveyed by Cook.  The midpoint for that list is at R+3; below that point there are 14 GOP districts held by Democrats, and only 7 Democratic ones held by Republicans.

What does that mean, in terms of the 2010 elections?  Well, if you assume that every district held by Democrats that’s at R+4 and above gets flipped, every incumbent between R+3 and D+0 keeps his or her seat, and that every Republican in a Democratic district loses his or her seat… the Democrats lose 31 seats next year.  Assume that an incumbent needs to at least break even (i.e., has at least a R or D+0), and the number goes up to 48 seats lost by the Democrats.  Split the difference, and now you know why Charlie Cook is pessimistic about the Democrats’ chances next year.

Moving on, here is a map of the cross-party-held seats:


As the key notes, Red shows states with at least one vulnerable Democrat-held seat; Blue shows states with at least one vulnerable GOP-held; and Purple are states with at least one of each.  Again, there’s a lot more in the first category than there are in the second and third.  The reason that this is important is that the exceptionally wide geographical spread of the territory that the Democrats will have to defend next year should make for some entertainingly hard choices for the White House.  Assuming that the administration comes out swinging for the midterms… well, it can either pick its spots (at a guess: NY, OH, & PA) and abandon the rest, or it can try to defend everything (and thus defend nothing).  Obviously, neither choice is really optimal.

Conclusion: as of this moment, one year in it looks good for the GOP to get a large number of seats back.  One year in

This will change.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.

10 thoughts on “Looking at the Cook Competitive Race Chart.”

  1. How does Cook arrive at his ratings? Is it solely based on prior House election results? If so, it does not take into account the move to the right seen in the latest elections in New Jersey and Virginia.

  2. But Obama has not yet begun to f*ck up. Wait until the terror attack on NYC during the 9/11 terrorist’s trials. Wait for the info to come out that it was Eric Holder that called off the Hasan investigation. Wait until Iran officially joins the nuclear club. Wait until unemployment hits 12%. Wait until Congress passes a health care bill that raises taxes almost immediately and provides no benefits for three years. Wait until the government-sponsored stock market finally rolls over–as not even GS and JPM can fool all of the people all of the time–and 401k statements begin to resemble 2008 again. Wait until Gas prices hit $4/gal again. Wait until America finally hears Obama say ONE TIME TOO MANY that he inherited all these problems.

    As screwed up as the GOP still is, even detached, generally uninformed American voters can see that the current crew is clincally insane and needs to be stopped dead in their tracks before they kill the last remnants of our liberty and free market economy. A few more months and the map above is going to look as red as Obama’s cabinet.

  3. My take is that Cook is conservative. If the jobless rate continues to rise, as many predict, and tops 12% (or even 14% as a few have intuited) then Democratic losses will be far higher. On the other hand, I suspect that the GOP won’t be the sole winner. We’ll see many more 3rd party/independents elected for the first time since tthe 1840’s.

  4. Cook compares the last two presidential election results to the nationwide results. This a R+2 district is 2% more Republican than the national average.

  5. Moe, good analysis, but if you add in these factors:
    – vote shift for the GOP of about 4-8 pts since 2008
    – incumbent gets advantage
    That implies everything at D+3 or below is possible GOP win, even against incumbents. GOP may lose DE-AL and Cao seat and that’s it.

    I am familiar with TX-10 McCaul district. Yes, he has a rich Democrat opponent. But he had one in 2008, got crushed in Democrat Travis county which had a big Obama wave and still won by 10 points overall, thanks to rural and Houston support. In 2010, his Dem opponent is destined to lose by more than 10 points, no matter how much money he spends.

  6. Something else to consider: Obama and the Democrats may be facing an even more powerful and unforgiving opponent next year than the GOP. Namely, the Grim Reaper.

    To wit: five of the seven oldest senators are Donks. The youngest (Specter) is a youthful 79 while the oldest (Byrd) is 92. None of these fossilized gems is in the best of health and several (Akaka, Inouye, Lautenberg, et. al.) represent states that already have Republican governors or that have just flipped to the GOP.

    Bottom line: given the average ages of many House and Senate members, even before November 2010 the GOP could well pick up several seats, opened up due to deaths or forced retirements, via gubernatorial appointments or special elections.

    Interesting, huh?

  7. The Incumbent advantage will be mitigated somewhat this year by the Tea Partiers. If you voted for The Anti-Stimulus, Cap and Trade, or Socialized Medicine, personal appearances on the campaign trail are going to get a lot harder.

  8. I live in Idaho. Do you know how I knew that the house dems had the votes to pass the bill? I knew because Minnick finally came out and said he was going to vote against it.

    Why did that tell me that they had the votes? Because Minnick is like one of those corrupt judges that generally just does what judges do until his benefactors need a verdict and then he is expected to deliver. Because we are a very red state, he votes conservative when his vote really makes no difference one way or another. That makes him look conservative even though his votes are meaningless. But the Dems weren’t sure if they would need him on the health care vote.

    Less than ONE WEEK before the vote I checked his website and there was NOTHING on health care. I tried to call his office, multiple times and I just got a busy signal. NOTHING on one of the biggest votes of our time. Nada. Zip.

    So when he finally came out against the health care bill (while leaving some weasel wording just in case) I told my husband that the Dems must have the votes to pass the bill. And then surprise, surprise, Pelosi called for the vote.

    We need someone to catalog how these sleepers like Minnick fool the public into thinking they are conservative by voting conservative when their votes are NOT needed but are ever ready and waiting to vote against us when we need them most.

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