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Please begin with an informative title:

If you're a political junkie, you're probably used to seeing charts that break competitive Senate and House races down into columns with categories like Tossups, Lean Democratic, Likely Republican, published by pundits like Charlie Cook or Stu Rothenberg. (Or by Daily Kos Elections... we've got our own, too, here, here, and here.)

Charts like that only tell part of the story, though. Looking at pundits' scorecards, you might think that races just spontaneously burst into being as competitive, based on the sheer force of will of the participants. That's not the case, though; almost all House races, for instance, draw highly-motivated, well-intentioned participants, and yet somehow we don't end up with 400+ competitive races every cycle.

Instead, there are two limiting factors: one is the range of districts. More than half of all House districts are too red or too blue to be competitive; they're going to elect someone from one party unless highly unusual circumstances pop up (and if that happens, that person from the wrong party is usually only renting the district for two years). Only that other half of the districts, where the presidential vote falls within 10% of the national average, is fertile ground for a competitive race. (And that band is getting narrower, as gerrymandering becomes a more precise, computer-driven science, with more districts getting turned uglier but also dark-blue or dark-red.)

So, with that, I thought it might be interesting to tip the typical House ratings chart on its side, and look at it by sifting through all the districts in that potentially-competitive band, digging layer by layer based on the percentage that Barack Obama got in 2008 (in the newly-configured post-redistricting districts, rather than the districts as they existed in 2008). That way, it encompasses not just the races that the pundits and the national committees are paying attention to, but it also reveals what races are getting left behind. (There's a lot of them. And while it's a little late in the cycle to do anything about them now, it should give us some food for thought about what else we might be targeting in 2014.)

The other factor is money. Competitive races don't happen without advertising, PR, and a lot of groundwork, and that costs a lot. Unfortunately, the money is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: a candidate needs money to get the pundits to consider a race competitive in the first place, but a race needs to be considered competitive before the big money donors and the national committees (like, say, the DCCC) will start sending money. That's the basic reason why, despite how much we'd like to see it, Generic Well-Meaning Progressive rarely gets any traction in a potentially-interesting swing-district race. Successful candidates need to either bring their own seed money, or have enough fundraising chits to call in from donors to get the ball rolling, either connections made from holding lower office, from a prominent business position, or, in a few cases, from a long-track record in local activism.

By adding money to the mix, we can see just how much money determines what races get taken seriously and which ones don't. At each percentage level, even the ones that are right at the national average (53%, according to Obama's 2008 vote share) you can see there are races that are competitive and ones that aren't. Invariably, the competitive ones involve hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on both sides and the non-competitive ones are woefully lopsided.

(Before you start complaining about Citizens United and Super PACs, bear in mind that the numbers that we're reporting are merely the contributions to the campaigns themselves. They don't account for spending by outside groups, either the national committees or third party groups (most of which hasn't occurred yet, as they save up for the stretch run). All of this fundraising is of the fully disclosed, dollar-limited variety, and was perfectly legal for many decades before CU was a twinkle in John Roberts' eye. That isn't to say that CU hasn't magnified the problem, but this speaks more generally to the outsized influence of money in politics.)

At any rate, let's start our excavations. I've narrowed it down to districts where Obama's vote share ranged between 60% and 45% (which, if you prefer Cook's Partisan Voting Index, would range (imprecisely, since PVI also incorporates 2004 figures) from D+7 to R+8). There are a few districts, however, where there are competitive races despite having an Obama percentage over 60; we'll start there. These are either because of aggressive Democratic gerrymandering leaving GOP incumbents marooned in dark-blue territory (the three Illinois districts) or a scandal-tarred Dem incumbent (in Rhode Island). The GOP may still has a shot at salvaging some of their incumbents here too, thanks to the power of incumbency.

CD O% Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
RI-01 67 David Cicilline Brendan Doherty $1.7m | $1.1m 51-44 92% 94.03 (60th) Tossup
IL-10 63 Brad Schneider Bob Dold $1.6m | $2.9m 51-49 61% 21.18 (196th) Tossup
IL-08 62 Tammy Duckworth Joe Walsh $2.5m | $1.5m 49-48 26% 6.95 (277th) Likely D
IL-11 61 Bill Foster Judy Biggert $1.7m | $1.8m 64-36 48% 13.10 (209th) Tossup

The "money" column is the fundraising to date for the entire cycle (up to the June 30 FEC reporting deadline), with the Dem figure on the left and the GOP figure on the right. The 2010 column shows the incumbent's re-election percentage in the last election, which gives some indication of whether they're perpetually in trouble or not used to a stiff challenge (bear in mind that some of the candidates skated by before because they were in easier districts and find themselves in much worse districts post-redistricting). The "R%" column shows what percentage of their old district made it into their new district (for example, just above, only 26% of Joe Walsh's constituents from the old IL-08 are still in his new IL-08... he'd probably still be losing even if he had all his same constituents, but this only makes it worse for him). And "PP score" is the incumbent's Progressive Punch score (overall votes for 2011-12), which scales how liberal they are from 0 to 100 (and also includes their rank, 1 through 435, with 1 being most liberal), which helps give a picture of how well an incumbent fits his swing district ideologically. (Naturally, we don't include 2010, Redist., or PP score for open seats where there's no incumbent.) "Rating" is how we at Daily Kos Elections currently view the state of that race.

For the remaining races, continue below the fold...


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CT-04 Jim Himes Steve Obsitnik $2.3m | $863K 53-47 99% 86.85 (143rd) Likely D
FL-09 Alan Grayson Todd Long $2.8m | $34K -- -- -- Likely D
IL-17 Cheri Bustos Bobby Schilling $1.3m | $1.5m 53-43 46% 8.11 (256th) Tossup
MA-02 Jim McGovern Rich Eustis $912K | $0 57-39 43% 97.58 (3rd) Safe D
MA-04 Joe Kennedy III Sean Bielat $3.1m | $476K -- -- -- Safe D
MD-03 John Sarbanes Eric Knowles $979K | $14K 61-36 67% 94.90 (47th) Safe D
NM-01 Michelle Lujan Grisham Janice Arnold-Jones $991K | $249K -- -- -- Lean D
OR-01 Suzanne Bonamici Delinda Morgan $2.2m | $1K 54-40* 98% 95.71 (33rd) Safe D
RI-02 Jim Langevin Michael Riley $909K | $510K 60-32 94% 90.88 (108th) Safe D
TX-34 Filemon Vela Jessica Puente-Bradshaw $413K | $19K -- -- -- Safe D
WA-02 Rick Larsen Dan Matthews $1.0m | $224K 51-49 71% 85.80 (149th) Safe D

At the 60% level, we're mostly looking at safe races, though the few open seats require attention. The one tough race, again, involves an Illinois GOP incumbent targeted by redistricting, though he too has a shot at survival.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-41 Mark Takano John Tavaglione $758K | $790K -- -- -- Tossup
CT-02 John Courtney Paul Formica $1.2 mil | $37K 60-39 100% 88.42 (136th) Safe D
MA-03 Niki Tsongas unopposed $1.2m | $0 55-42 77% 91.44 (97th) Safe D
NY-25 Louise Slaughter Maggie Brooks $1.1m | $773K 65-39 38% 94.50 (53rd) Lean D
WI-03 Ron Kind Ray Boland $1.5m | $63K 50-47 76% 84.55 (158th) Safe D

At the 59% level, things still are mostly Safe; there's one major "pickup" opportunity thanks to California's epic redistricting. (The new 41st, based in Riverside, doesn't really have a precursor district; it's a low-turnout, Hispanic-plurality district that's enough of a blank slate that it's not a Democratic slam dunk.)


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
AZ-03 Raul Grijalva Gabriela Saucedo Mercer $625K | $160K 50-44 88% 96.78 (15th) Safe D
CA-46 Loretta Sanchez Jerry Hayden $1.4m | $70K 53-39 69% 91.90 (90th) Safe D
CA-47 Alan Lowenthal Gary DeLong $511K | $863K -- -- -- Lean D
GA-02 Sanford Bishop John House $801K | $103K 51-49 78% 71.65 (173rd) Safe D
IA-01 Bruce Braley Ben Lange $1.9m | $427K 50-48 48% 91.96 (88th) Likely D
IL-03 Dan Lipinski Richard Grabowski $645K | $5K 70-24 71% 77.95 (165th) Safe D
MA-08 Stephen Lynch Joe Selvaggi $470K | $24K 68-26 65% 90.12 (117th) Safe D
MA-09 William Keating Adam Chaprales $860K | $38K 47-42 59% 93.13 (72nd) Safe D
MI-09 Sander Levin Donald Volaric $1.4m | $19K 61-35 75% 91.49 (96th) Safe D
NJ-06 Frank Pallone Anna Little $1.4m | $188K 55-44 63% 97.25 (7th) Safe D
NY-17 Nita Lowey Joe Carvin $1.7m | $1.1m 62-38 49% 91.10 (102nd) Likely D
NY-20 Paul Tonko Bob Dieterich $743K | $111K 59-41 83% 95.10 (43rd) Safe D
TX-20 Joaquin Castro David Rosa $1.1m | $14K -- -- -- Safe D
TX-28 Henry Cuellar Unopposed $1.1m | $0 56-42 78% 63.6 (178th) Safe D

At the 58% level, again, it's mostly Safe Dem races, with the biggest challenge coming in another California open seat thrown into chaos through redistricting.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CO-07 Ed Perlmutter Joe Coors $1.8m | $1.3m 53-42 57% 80.75 (164th) Lean D
FL-22 Lois Frankel Adam Hasner $2.3m | $2.4m -- -- -- Lean D
IA-02 David Loebsack John Archer $1.1m | $326K 51-46 54% 85.24 (156th) Likely D
MA-06 John Tierney Richard Tisei $1.5m | $1.4m 57-43 89% 96.27 (27th) Tossup
PA-17 Matt Cartwright Laureen Cummings $951K | $6K -- -- -- Safe D
TN-05 Jim Cooper Brad Staats $925K | $55K 56-42 87% 73.57 (171st) Safe D
TX-15 Ruben Hinojosa Dale Brueggemann $447K | $17K 56-42 63% 85.35 (153rd) Safe D
WA-06 Derek Kilmer Bill Driscoll $901K | $871K -- -- -- Likely D
WA-10 Denny Heck Dick Muri $1.4m | $167K -- -- -- Likely D

Things start to get a little more interesting at the 57% level, including a Tossup in Massachusetts thanks to a scandalized Dem incumbent (John Tierney), an open seat in Florida left behind by Allen West that leans in the Dems' direction, and a race in Colorado where Coors family money makes it competitive.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-09 Jerry McNerney Ricky Gill $1.5m | $1.8m 48-47 50% 88.66 (135th) Lean D
CA-16 Jim Costa Brian Whelan $924K | $299K 52-48 24% 56.35 (183rd) Likely D
CA-24 Lois Capps Abel Maldonado $2.2m | $1.0m 58-38 64% 93.60 (68th) Lean D
CA-26 Julia Brownley Tony Strickland $923K | $1.4m -- -- -- Tossup
CA-31 No Democrat Gary Miller $169K | $858K 62-32 0% 3.48 (371st) Safe R
CT-05 Elizabeth Esty Andrew Roraback $2.1m | $573K -- -- -- Tossup
KY-03 John Yarmuth Brooks Wicker $661K | $6K 55-44 97% 93.74 (64th) Safe D
MD-06 John Delaney Roscoe Bartlett $3.0m | $849K 62-33 52% 9.92 (233rd) Lean D
NH-02 Ann McLane Kuster Charlie Bass $2.1m | $1.4m 48-47 99% 19.51 (198th) Tossup
NV-04 Steven Horsford Danny Tarkanian $875K | $575K -- -- -- Tossup
NY-24 Dan Maffei Ann Marie Buerkle $1.1m | $1.1m 50-50 80% 2.54 (402nd) Lean D
WA-01 Suzan DelBene John Koster $2.5m | $489K -- -- -- Lean D

At the 56% level (or D+3, if you prefer), we've gotten to the point where nearly every race is competitive. There are tossups in newly-created seats (CA-26 and NV-04), and in CT-05, an open seat in the wake of Chris Murphy's Senate run. There are even two potential Dem pickups (in Maryland and New York) where redistricting left incumbent Republicans with the short end of the stick. And one of the only uncompetitive races in this tier -- a Safe GOP one in CA-31 -- is uncompetitive only because of a fluke, where California's top 2 primary system blew up in our faces, with two Republicans advancing to the general election after four Dems split the vote among them.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-03 John Garamendi Kim Vann $1.2m | $646K 59-38 23% 92.39 (82nd) Likely D
CA-52 Scott Peters Brian Bilbray $2.0m | $1.4m 57-39 40% 10.87 (225th) Tossup
IL-12 William Enyart Jason Plummer $178K | $541K -- -- -- Tossup
IL-13 David Gill Rodney Davis $428K | $441K -- -- -- Lean R
ME-02 Mike Michaud Kevin Raye $919K | $353K 55-45 96% 86.56 (146th) Likely D
NY-04 Carolyn McCarthy Francis Becker $1.7m | $55K 54-46 81% 86.03 (148th) Safe D

The 55% level has two different Illinois races thrown into chaos by redistricting and recruiting problems, with GOP Rep. Tim Johnson's post-primary retirement in the 13th and Dem candidate Brad Harrimann's post-primary dropout in the 12th. In fact, it's not hard to imagine the parties trading open seats here, with the Dems picking up IL-13 and the GOP picking up IL-12.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CO-06 Joe Miklosi Mike Coffman $802K | $2.4m 66-32 58% 6.80 (283rd) Lean R
NV-03 John Oceguera Joe Heck $926K | $1.8m 48-48 88% 11.26 (221st) Lean R
NY-03 Steve Israel Stephen Labate $2.4m | $188K 56-43 39% 90.73 (109th) Safe D
OR-04 Peter DeFazio Art Robinson $829K | $597K 55-44 96% 89.03 (132nd) Safe D
WI-08 Jamie Wall Reid Ribble $711K | $1.6m 55-45 92% 4.82 (329th) Lean R

At the 54% level, even though we're still at D+1, we're starting to get into territory where many of the Republicans are likely to survive. Mike Coffman in Colorado got a much swingier district out of redistricting and will have to learn how not to keep saying inflammatory conservative things (though he has enough money for a lot of damage control); on the other hand, freshman Joe Heck in Nevada barely squeaked into office in the 2010 wave but seems in better shape now.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
MI-06 Mike O'Brien Fred Upton $103K | $3.2m 62-34 94% 8.58 (246th) Safe R
MN-08 Rick Nolan Chip Cravaack $358K | $1.5m 48-47 99% 7.44 (264th) Tossup
NH-01 Carol Shea-Porter Frank Guinta $804K | $1.4m 54-42 99% 4.26 (343rd) Tossup
NJ-02 Cassandra Shober Frank LoBiondo $33K | $1.1m 66-31 94% 19.83 (197th) Safe R
NY-19 Julian Schreibman Chris Gibson $533K | $1.4m 55-45 44% 28.37 (192nd) Lean R
OR-05 Kurt Schrader Fred Thompson $1.3m | $8K 51-46 91% 75.79 (167th) Safe D
PA-06 Manan Trivedi Jim Gerlach $710K | $1.7m 57-43 49% 16.60 (203rd) Likely R
PA-08 Kathy Boockvar Mike Fitzpatrick $673K | $1.8m 53-47 89% 21.78 (194th) Lean R
WI-07 Pat Kreitlow Sean Duffy $799K | $1.8m 52-44 76% 6.66 (287th) Lean R

At the 53% level, there are a few GOP moderates who've proven themselves adept at surviving in Philadelphia's suburbs and are likely to do so again (Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick). But there are also some of the seemingly most-accidental members of Congress, driftwood that got swept in with the 2010 wave looking poised to get swept back out in 2012 (Chip Cravaack, Frank Guinta). Amazingly, at the national average level (seeing as how Obama got slightly less than 53% nationwide in 2008), only of the Dem seats is currently Dem-held (by Kurt Schrader), though it certainly looks like that district will stay that way.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-21 John Hernandez David Valadao $40K | $844K -- -- -- Likely R
IA-03 Leonard Boswell Tom Latham $1.2m | $2.6m 51-47 | 66-32 57% | 17% 77.91 (166th) | 10.90 (224th) Tossup
MI-08 Lance Enderle Mike Rogers $40K | $1.5m 64-34 85% 4.13 (348th) Safe R
NY-18 Sean Patrick Maloney Nan Hayworth $646K | $2.1m 53-47 73% 12.72 (210th) Lean R
NY-21 Bill Owens Matt Doheny $1.3m | $758K 48-46 62% 62.89 (179th) Tossup
PA-15 Rick Daugherty Charlie Dent $19K | $1.3m 54-39 71% 16.43 (204th) Safe R

You'll notice that we're starting to see a lot more red now that we're down to 52%. One of those races is a formerly Dem-held seat opened up by Jim Costa's decision to run in a safer seat further north instead of in CA-21; recruiting woes left Dems with an underfunded candidate, John Hernandez, unlikely to be able to hold the seat. Dems also have two other tough holds here, including of the nation's two member-on-member battles in November (where GOPer Tom Latham has a big money edge, but Dem Leonard Boswell brings many more of his constituents with him).


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
AZ-09 Kyrsten Sinema Vernon Parker $747K | $211K -- -- -- Tossup
CA-07 Ami Bera Dan Lungren $2.0m | $1.7m 50-43 77% 6.87 (280th) Tossup
FL-13 Jessica Ehrlich Bill Young $238K | $525K 66-34 83% 9.94 (231st) Safe R
FL-18 Patrick Murphy Allen West $2.4m | $10.8m 54-46 23% 6.09 (301st) Tossup
IL-06 Leslie Coolidge Peter Roskam $204K | $2.4m 64-36 25% 4.66 (334th) Safe R
IL-14 Dennis Anderson Randy Hultgren $76K | $1.1m 51-45 41% 4.76 (331st) Safe R
MI-07 Kurt Haskell Tim Walberg $15K | $1.3m 50-45 76% 3.02 (388th) Safe R
MN-01 Tim Walz Allen Quist $1.5m | $237K 49-44 90% 81.74 (162nd) Likely D
MN-03 Brian Barnes Erik Paulsen $217K | $2.2m 59-37 91% 6.66 (287th) Safe R
NJ-03 Shelley Adler Jon Runyan $633K | $1.4m 50-47 78% 11.11 (222nd) Lean R
NY-01 Tim Bishop Randy Altschuler $1.9m | $1.4m 50-50 97% 91.37 (100th) Lean D
NY-02 Vivienne Falcone Peter King $0 | $1.4m 72-28 47% 12.14 (213th) Safe R
PA-07 George Badey Pat Meehan $313K | $2.0m 55-44 56% 15.73 (205th) Safe R
VA-10 Kristin Cabral Frank Wolf $138K | $752K 63-35 89% 13.13 (208th) Safe R
WA-03 Jon Haugen Jaime Herrera Beutler $0 | $1.3m 53-47 97% 10.41 (226th) Safe R
WA-08 Karen Porterfield Dave Reichert $62K | $1.3m 52-48 67% 18.61 (200th) Safe R
WI-01 Rob Zerban Paul Ryan $1.2m | $4.3m 68-30 97% 3.84 (359th) Likely R

The Dems have two potentially good pickups down at the 51% level, thanks to two monster fundraisers, in the form of Ami Bera in CA-07 and Patrick Murphy in FL-18 (who benefits, fundraising-wise, from running against the GOPer with one of the biggest targets painted on his back, Allen West). One other sleeper race is in Wisconsin's 1st, where Paul Ryan hasn't been seriously challenged before despite the district's swingy turf. Rob Zerban can benefit from more national attention being shined on Ryan and has raised decent money, though he still has a major uphill fight ahead of him.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-10 Jose Hernandez Jeff Denham $844K | $1.8m 65-35 38% 4.76 (331st) Lean R
CA-36 Raul Ruiz Mary Bono Mack $847K | $1.5m 52-42 75% 6.32 (291st) Likely R
FL-26 Joe Garcia David Rivera $554K | $417K 52-43 69% 9.03 (243rd) Tossup
IL-16 Wanda Rohl Adam Kinzinger $5K | $1.7m 57-43 31% 9.14 (242nd) Safe R
IN-02 Brendan Mullen Jackie Walorski $804K | $1.1m -- -- -- Lean R
MI-01 Gary McDowell Dan Benishek $927K | $1.3m 52-41 75% 6.12 (299th) Lean R
MI-03 Steve Pestka Justin Amash $799K | $902K 60-38 76% 15.00 (206th) Likely R
MI-04 Debra Wirth Dave Camp $0 | $3.6m 66-31 72% 6.30 (292nd) Safe R
MI-11 Syed Taj Kerry Bentivolio $338K | $283K -- -- -- Lean R
MN-02 Mike Obermueller John Kline $308K | $1.8m 63-37 87% 1.67 (427th) Likely R
NE-02 John Ewing Lee Terry $297K | $1.4m 61-39 94% 8.24 (252nd) Likely R
NY-23 Nate Shinagawa Tom Reed $320K | $1.4m 57-43 54% 9.94 (231st) Likely R
PA-16 Aryanna Strader Joe Pitts $61K | $1.0m 65-35 86% 4.31 (341st) Safe R
TX-23 Pete Gallego Quico Canseco $845K | $1.7m 49-44 70% 2.02 (419th) Lean R
VA-02 Paul Hirschbiel Scott Rigell $1.2m | $1.7m 53-43 85% 6.69 (285th) Likely R

The marquee race at the 50% level is FL-26, where Republican Rep. David Rivera seems more concerned with keeping one step ahead of indictment than one step ahead of Joe Garcia. Other races that have Dems optimistic include Gary McDowell's rematch with GOP frosh Dan Benishek in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and astronaut Jose Hernandez, against GOPer Jeff Denham in a seriously-redistricted part of California's Central Valley.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
AZ-02 Ron Barber Martha McSally $1.8m | $430K 52-45* 90% -- Lean D
CA-25 Lee Rogers Buck McKeon $237K | $1.5m 62-38 77% 6.26 (294th) Safe R
CA-49 Jerry Tetalman Darrell Issa $35K | $1.4m 63-32 44% 2.21 (412th) Safe R
FL-07 Jason Kendall John Mica $6K | $1.6m 69-31 42% 4.18 (347th) Safe R
FL-27 Manny Yevancey Ileana Ros-Lehtinen $0 | $1.8m 69-31 67% 11.90 (215th) Safe R
KS-03 No Democrat Kevin Yoder $0 | $1.5m 58-39 98% 3.43 (375th) Safe R
NJ-05 Adam Gussen Scott Garrett $0 | $1.9m 65-33 79% 5.13 (320th) Safe R
NV-02 Sam Koepnick Mark Amodei $0 | $1.0m 58-36* 100% 3.99 (352nd) Safe R
NY-22 Dan Lamb Richard Hanna $153K | $779K 53-47 57% 17.05 (202nd) Likely R
OH-10 Sharen Neuhardt Mike Turner $340K | $846K 68-32 62% 11.32 (220th) Safe R
OH-14 Dale Blanchard David Joyce $0 | $0 -- -- -- Safe R
VA-04 Ella Ward Randy Forbes $34K | $703K 62-38 96% 6.10 (300th) Safe R
WI-06 Unopposed Tom Petri $0 | $592K 71-29 80% 10.20 (228th) Safe R

Things are really starting to go awry here at the 49% level, which is only R+4. Not only is only one of these seats held by a Dem (Ron Barber, whom you remember from the special election to replace Gabby Giffords), but there's only one other one that's remotely competitive. Perhaps most galling is the failure by the Dems to find any challenger at all for Kansas freshman Kevin Yoder, just recently in the headlines for his drunken skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
AZ-01 Ann Kirkpatrick Jonathan Paton $1.4m | $611K -- -- -- Tossup
CO-03 Sal Pace Scott Tipton $1.2m | $1.6m 50-46 94% 7.60 (262nd) Lean R
FL-16 Keith Fitzgerald Vern Buchanan $963K | $1.9m 69-31 96% 6.25 (295th) Lean R
IA-04 Christie Vilsack Steve King $2.1m | $2.1m 66-32 47% 4.46 (336th) Lean R
IN-08 David Crooks Larry Bucshon $743K | $845K 58-37 88% 4.44 (337th) Lean R
MI-02 Unopposed Bill Huizenga $0 | $752K 65-32 77% 4.07 (351st) Safe R
MI-10 Chuck Stadler Candice Miller $0 | $554K 72-25 95% 7.59 (263rd) Safe R
NM-02 Evelyn Erhard Steve Pearce $47K | $1.2m 55-45 97% 5.61 (310th) Safe R
NY-11 Mark Murphy Michael Grimm $373K | $1.8m 51-48 88% 12.39 (212th) Lean R
VA-05 John Douglass Robert Hurt $662K | $1.4m 51-47 90% 3.39 (376th) Likely R

Things actually look better at the 48% level, where Democratic ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is on track to pick her old seat in Arizona back up (since the guy who beat her in '10, Paul Gosar, decided to run in a safer seat). In addition, there are a number of other GOP-held seats that are at least on the table, thanks either to incumbents who are having legal troubles (Michael Grimm, Vern Buchanan), trouble squaring their right-wing loose-cannonishness with new swing districts (Steve King), or just terminal anonymity (Larry Bucshon).


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-39 Jay Chen Ed Royce $500K | $2.1m 67-33 31% 6.30 (292nd) Safe R
FL-02 Al Lawson Steve Southerland $187K | $1.2m 54-41 91% 3.93 (356th) Likely R
FL-10 Val Demings Daniel Webster $1.1m | $887K 56-38 56% 5.05 (322nd) Likely R
FL-12 Jonathan Snow Gus Bilirakis $9K | $577K 71-29 57% 5.14 (319th) Safe R
IN-05 Scott Reske Susan Brooks $284K | $894K -- -- -- Safe R
MN-07 Collin Peterson Lee Byberg $823K | $377K 55-38 94% 45.56 (187th) Safe D
MT-AL Kim Gillan Steve Daines $379K | $1.1m -- -- -- Likely R
NJ-07 Upendra Chivukula Leonard Lance $443K | $919K 59-41 61% 11.93 (214th) Likely R
NJ-11 John Arvanites Rodney Frelinghuysen $28K | $736K 67-31 64% 11.08 (223rd) Safe R
OH-01 Jeff Sinnard Steve Chabot $0 | $805K 52-46 64% 3.84 (359th) Safe R
OH-07 Joyce Healy-Abrams Bob Gibbs $411K | $1.2m 54-41 29% 4.42 (339th) Likely R
OH-16 Betty Sutton Jim Renacci $1.5m | $2.1m 56-44 | 52-41 21% | 42% 90.98 (105th) | 8.12 (255th) Tossup
PA-05 Charles Dumas Glenn Thompson $5K | $944K 69-28 73% 9.86 (235th) Safe R
PA-11 Gene Stilp Lou Barletta $36K | $980K 55-45 35% 9.44 (238th) Safe R
VA-01 Adam Cook Rob Wittman $92K | $624K 64-35 76% 6.68 (286th) Safe R

Amidst mostly "Safe R" races at the 47% level is one Dem-held seat; long-time Minnesota Blue Dog Collin Peterson, in fact, is the Dem with the reddest district to merit the "Safe D" award. There's also one other member-on-member battle; given that Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton is pretty liberal, behind on the fundraising front, and deprived of most of her former constituents thanks to GOP redistricting, you'd expect her to be getting hosed in her fight with GOP frosh Jim Renacci, but polling has shown her right in the thick of things.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
CA-45 Sukhee Kang John Campbell $477K | $1.0m 60-35 62% 9.92 (233rd) Safe R
CA-48 Ron Varasteh Dana Rohrabacher $0 | $385K 62-38 61% 8.49 (248th) Safe R
FL-15 Unopposed Dennis Ross $0 | $727K 48-41 53% 2.70 (397th) Safe R
FL-25 No Democrat Mario Diaz-Balart $0 | $696K Unopp. 51% 11.47 (219th) Safe R
IN-09 Shelli Yoder Todd Young $134K | $1.3m 52-42 64% 3.19 (385th) Safe R
MO-02 Glenn Koenen Ann Wagner $10K | $1.9m -- -- -- Safe R
OH-05 Angela Zimmann Bob Latta $196K | $713K 68-27 55% 2.00 (420th) Safe R
OH-15 Patrick Lang Steve Stivers $67K | $2.1m 54-41 36% 10.19 (229th) Safe R
PA-03 Missa Eaton Mike Kelly $131K | $809K 56-44 70% 7.10 (274th) Safe R
WA-05 Rich Cowan Cathy McMorris Rodgers $206K | $1.4m 64-36 100% 3.30 (379th) Safe R

There's literally nothing to see at the 46% level, other than a few California and Florida districts that demographic change might put into play eventually.


CD Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
FL-06 Heather Beaven Ron DeSantis $123K | $491K -- -- -- Safe R
IN-04 Tara Nelson Todd Rokita $13K | $937K 67-26 65% 3.44 (373rd) Safe R
KS-02 Tobias Schlingensiepen Lynn Jenkins $59K | $1.5m 63-32 84% 2.19 (413th) Safe R
KY-06 Ben Chandler Andy Barr $1.5m | $1.0m 50-50 92% 65.23 (176th) Lean D
NC-09 Jennifer Roberts Robert Pittenger $253K | $2.3m -- -- -- Safe R
NC-13 Charles Malone George Holding $6K | $1.0m -- -- -- Safe R
ND-AL Pam Gulleson Kevin Cramer $627K | $593K -- -- -- Likely R
NJ-04 Brian Froelich Chris Smith $23K | $388K 69-28 68% 18.68 (199th) Safe R
OH-06 Charlie Wilson Bill Johnson $686K | $1.4m 50-45 74% 4.84 (327th) Lean R
OH-12 James Reese Pat Tiberi $10K | $2.5m 56-41 54% 9.33 (241st) Safe R
PA-04 Harry Perkinson Scott Perry $44k | $245K -- -- -- Safe R
PA-12 Mark Critz Keith Rothfus $1.7m | $877K 51-49 29% 67.50 (174th) Tossup
SC-07 Gloria Tinubu Tom Rice $340K | $697K -- -- -- Safe R
SD-AL Matt Varilek Kristi Noem $480K | $2.1m 48-46 100% 6.17 (298th) Likely R

The 45% level (or R+8) is where things should start trailing off for Democrats, but there are still a couple Blue Doggish types here who have unique appeal to their Appalachian-flavored districts and seem better-than-even shots to survive (Kentucky's Ben Chandler, SW Pennsylvania's Mark Critz). There's also a brand-new South Carolina seat that started competitive but took a wrong turn with Ted Vick's arrest, and unfortunately, Brad Miller's old seat in North Carolina, left in Safe R territory after being redistricted into oblivion and Dem recruiting fails.

CD O% Dem GOPer Money 2010 R% PP score Rating
GA-12 44 John Barrow Lee Anderson $1.9m | $529K 57-43 53% 54.63 (184th) Lean R
NY-27 44 Kathy Hochul Chris Collins $3.2m | $260K 47-42 53% 74.57 (169th) Lean R
PA-18 44 Larry Maggi Tim Murphy $499K | $1.9m 67-33 79% 7.12 (271st) Likely R
MN-06 43 Jim Graves Michele Bachmann $578K | $15.9m 53-40 95% 4.91 (323rd) Likely R
MO-04 42 Teresa Hensley Vicky Hartzler $492K | $1.1m 50-45 61% 3.23 (383rd) Likely R
NC-07 42 Mike McIntyre David Rouzer $1.4m | $695K 54-46 64% 56.67 (182nd) Tossup
NC-08 42 Larry Kissell Richard Hudson $973K | $631K 53-44 55% 62.50 (180th) Tossup
TX-14 42 Nick Lampson Randy Weber $555K | $625K -- -- -- Lean R
WV-03 42 Nick Rahall Rick Snuffer $913K | $212K 56-44 96% 73.74 (170th) Likely D
UT-04 41 Jim Matheson Mia Love $1.6m | $495K 51-46 33% 40.00 (189th) Tossup
NC-11 40 Hayden Rogers Mark Meadows $492K | $494K -- -- -- Likely R
AR-01 39 Scott Ellington Rick Crawford $150K | $1.0m 52-44 94% 6.70 (284th) Likely R
AR-04 37 Gene Jeffress Tom Cotton $58K | $1.4m -- -- -- Safe R
TN-04 36 Eric Stewart Scott DesJarlais $367K | $907K 57-39 36% 3.85 (358th) Likely R
OK-02 34 Rob Wallace Markwayne Mullin $669K | $994K -- -- -- Likely R

Remarkably, there are still a number of seats below the 45% mark that are still competitive, more so than GOP chances above the 60% mark. That has to do with more Dem incumbents getting hosed in redistricting than GOP incumbents; while it's mostly in the South that Reps. found themselves pushed down from swing districts to red districts (John Barrow in Georgia, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell in North Carolina), it also happened to Kathy Hochul, who just famously won a special election in upstate New York. There are also a few compelling Dem challengers and open-seat contestants in districts that still retain some Blue Doggish sympathies (including ex-Rep. Nick Lampson, who's represented parts of Texas's Gulf Coast off and on for decades). There's also Nick Rahall, still an immovable object despite his West Virginia district keeping on getting redder and redder at the presidential level. (Finally, there's also AR-04, one of only two Dem-held seats to go straight to Safe R; it's an open seat that'd be a tough hold even if Dem candidate Gene Jeffress were bothering to raise money.)

So what do we do with all this knowledge? Perhaps most troubling is how many of these swing-district races held by Republicans are just being left on the table by the Dems; perhaps many of you are already mentally composing sternly-worded letters to the DCCC, complaining of their neglect of so many sleeper races (probably with some invocation of how "Howard Dean would never have let this happen"). While that's an excellent sentiment, it also ascribes powers to the DCCC that they don't actually have.

First, their resources are finite -- they can't bestow large sums of money on every well-intentioned progressive in a potentially-winnable race, but have to make financial targeting decisions based on where they can have the maximum leverage and where they're likeliest to break through the Republican lines. If they spread their money around too much, with only weak or token ad buys in hundreds of races... well, that'd be like trying to win a chess game with only a wave of dozens of pawns, not a winning strategy.

And second, folks like the DCCC are, by their very design, reactive. They wait and see where the competitive races develop, and then they weigh in with vast amounts of cash in the closing months of the race, when voters are actually paying attention. The chicken-and-egg nature of fundraising and 'competitiveness' that I mentioned earlier really highlight the importance of contributing money early in the cycle. (As a certain List once said, Early Money Is Like Yeast.) Granted, it's hard to know a year and a half before an election who is worth supporting financially -- it's hard enough to know that even at this point in the cycle -- but it behooves us as progressives to do some research early on and help get like-minded candidates get their ball rolling early on, before things start to snowball. More money early on ensures that more races with candidates that we like -- and more races, period -- get taken seriously by the establishment later.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to David Jarman on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by California politics, Daily Kos Elections, and Daily Kos.

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