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Joe Walsh
2012's most endangered man?
For those of you who've been hankering for some House polling (which was nearly non-existent last year, though that's largely because it's hard to poll under district lines that hadn't been drawn yet), there's suddenly a huge buffet to choose from. That's courtesy of Public Policy Polling, though it's on behalf of House Majority PAC, a Democratic organization focused on House races.

Although they only polled in states where the redistricting book has been truly closed, a few of these polls still have a sketched-in quality, since there's still a competitive Democratic primary to be resolved first. Nevertheless, it's an interesting-enough—and hopeful, but not overly rosy—collection of stuff that it's worth unpacking a bit.

Public Policy Polling for House Majority PAC. 1/18-23. Registered voters. (No trendlines):

IL-08
Generic D (D): 49
Joe Walsh (R-inc): 35
MoE ±4.4%

Illinois' 8th district is the "holy crap" number of the bunch, but it shouldn't come as a surprise: Loudmouthed ultra-bagger Joe Walsh has offered up enough ammunition that he would have been an underdog for reelection even under the old district's lines, but redistricting turned the suburban, previously 56 percent Obama, 8th into a 62 percent district instead. "Generic D" is a bit of a misnomer here since the Democrats have two strong, well-known choices here (Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi), though it remains to be seen who emerges from the primary. Walsh sports 28/44 approvals.

IA-04
Christie Vilsack (D): 43
Steve King (R-inc): 49
MoE ±3.1%

Rep. Steve King is one of the few House members who can give Walsh stiff competition for "most likely to say something objectionable," but previously he's been protected by having a solidly red district. Now he finds himself in a 48 percent Obama district and up against a top-tier Democrat in the form of former state first lady Christie Vilsack. King still has a decent lead, probably thanks to the power of incumbency, but at the same time 52 percent say it's "time for someone new."

MI-01
Gary McDowell (D): 46
Dan Benishek (R-inc): 41
MoE ±3.3%

Dan Benishek isn't the first name that would have leapt to mind for me among vulnerable Republicans, as he has somewhat-comfortable terrain (a 50 percent Obama district in Michigan's rural Upper Peninsula), but the poll shows MI-01 residents ready to trade him in for his 2010 opponent, ex-State Rep. Gary McDowell. Benishek's approvals are 33/45.

OH-07
Generic D (D): 43
Robert Gibbs (R-inc): 42
MoE ±3.7%

Democrat Zack Space couldn't hold on to this GOP-leaning rural district in 2010 (the bulk of which used to be OH-18), but it looks like Robert Gibbs, who beat him, may have an even shorter stay in the House; Gibbs has 34/51 approvals. This is one race, though, where "Generic D" might overperform the actual D we wind up with here; Joyce Healy-Abrams, the never-elected sister of Canton's mayor, seems to be the likeliest Democrat to emerge from the primary.

MD-06
Generic D (D): 42
Roscoe Bartlett (R-inc): 42
MoE ±4.4%

Here's a race where I thought we might already be better positioned, with the 6th transformed by redistricting into a 56 percent Obama district. But this is a race that will definitely evolve, that could go either way depending on whether Roscoe Bartlett, the octogenarian long-timer who's never had to put up much of a fight to hold the old red version of MD-06, can shake the rust off. (Of course, he has serious GOP primary opposition, so if he doesn't remember how to campaign, he might not even make it to the general.) State Sen. Rob Garagiola seems the likeliest Democrat to emerge from the primary. Bartlett's approvals are 39/44, and 60 percent think it's time for him to be replaced.

OH-16
Betty Sutton (D-inc): 46
Jim Renacci (R-inc): 46
MoE ±3.4%

The newly-configured Akron-area 16th sets up a member-versus-member fight on slightly Republican-leaning turf. This was probably Betty Sutton's best bet, who really got left with no good options out of redistricting, and the numbers suggest she might just pull it off (though getting to 50 percent +1 will be hard). Republican Jim Renacci has 31/38 approvals, and 60 percent think he should be replaced.

CO-03
Sal Pace (D): 39
Scott Tipton (R-inc): 46
MoE ±4.1%

This Western Slope district is one of the less friendly districts that they tested (only 48 percent Obama), so it's probably no surprise that Scott Tipton is in somewhat better shape than the other Republicans here. Still, he's at 36/40 approvals and 54 percent think he should be replaced, so as Democratic State Rep. Sal Pace's name recognition increases, this may become closer.

OH-06
Charlie Wilson (D): 41
Bill Johnson (R-inc): 42
MoE ±3.5%

Charlie Wilson was a surprise last-minute loss in 2010 in Ohio's Appalachian-flavored southeastern 6th, and his Republican replacement, Bill Johnson, doesn't seem to have made much of an impression so far, with much higher unknowns than the other Republicans tested (he's at 31/32 approvals). It looks like their rematch is on track to be another close one.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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