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In 2008 and again in 2010, I put together a series of diaries focusing on taking/keeping control of the House.  Worked out well in "08", not so well in "10".  So here we are again in 2012, needing to take back House control.  But in 2012, the need is much greater than it was in 2008.  Because in 2012, the House is not just controlled by Republicans, its controlled by a bunch of "Tea Party" fanatics who hold sway over the Republican leadership and are hell bent on stopping any legislation proposed by President Obama or the Democratic Senate.  And I for one, don't think we can sit around hoping that this Republican House will change its tune when President Obama gets re-elected and we retain Senate control.

That's why I'm once again beginning a series of diaries aimed at taking back the House.  The series will focus on both our pickup opportunities as well as those where we need to play defense to hold.  It will provide you with details on each race, the current polls, some background on our candidate and links to the candidate's site to encourage donations and GOTV efforts.  So after you clear the jump /\ with me, let's get started!

UPDATE:  Also please take sometime to read this similar Diary by ArkDem14.  Very well thought out with sound reasoning.  I'm so jealous!

Before I get into the "Nitty-Gritty" of this series, let me first take a few words to clear up some things.

First, this is not intended to draw attention away from our efforts to get President Obama re-elected or the Senate races which are important to our continued control of that body.  Although our prospects are improving, I am not in anyway saying that these races are "shoe-ins" or that we should shift our efforts away from the Presidential/Senate races.  I'm simply saying that we need to keep up the momentum we are building in those races, and use it to help us with the House races.

Second, I know some of you are thinking that taking back the House is an exercise in unrealistic optimism.  In doing this diary series, I'm not trying to paint a rosy picture.  Its frankly a long-shot and the odds are still very much stacked against us.  But with the improving picture for Dems. nationally, its not totally impossible.  Besides its clear that this year we are in a position to play offense and its likely we can take back a number of House seats.  Even if we fall short of the 22 seat flips we need to take control, a good effort on our part can substantially lessen the Republican majority.  Lessening their majority to a few seats will make it tougher for them to stop all Dem. legislation entirely, since we would only need to swing a few moderate House Republicans (granted there are very few "moderate" Republicans left).  It will also make it easier for us to flip control of the House in 2014, especially if Boehner continues to use the House as a roadblock.

Now that, that's cleared up, lets get things started.

Part 1 of this series (this Diary) will look at the first 11 House races we need to flip from red to blue.
Part 2 of this series will look at the next 11 House races we need to flip from red to blue in order to get the 22 needed to take control of the House.
Part 3 of this series will look at the races where we need to play defense in order to keep a blue seat blue.
Part 4 and the last of the series, will put all the flips and holds together and evaluate where we stand in terms of taking control and where our efforts should be concentrated (IMHO).

PART 1: The 11 House races listed below are all from Republican held or open seats in which the Dem. candidate is shown to be leading in the polls.  All polls in this listing come courtesy of TPM Polltracker, a great place to find an extensive listing of House polls.

I have ranked the 11 seats from most likely to less likely pick up opportunity based primarily on the polling of these races.  But my ranking also considers the age of the polls, weighting new polls over older polls.  For instance a late September poll should give a better indication of voter intent in November than one taken in late July.  Also, to be conservative, my ranking gives consideration to whether the poll is Democrat or Republican sponsored, or whether its been done by an independent polling firm like SUSA.  For instance, a Republican or independent poll showing the Dem. candidate in the lead should give a greater degree of insurance that the Dem. is truly out front, than a Dem. sponsored poll.  The listing below provides the District match-up; the latest poll(s); a link to the Dem. candidates web site where you can learn more about him/her, donate or sign up for GOTV; and my little write up on the race.  Hope you find this useful and hope it prompts you to donate and/or GOTV!

1) IL-08:                         Duckworth  (D)             Walsh  (R)
     Polls: 9/20 (PPP)         52%                           38%        D +14
              8/14 (PPP)         50%                           41%        D +9
     D-Link:   Tammy Duckworth

     My 2 Cents:  What more can be said about this race then hasn't been said already.  Having Iraq War Veteran Tammy Duckworth take down Tea Party crack pot Joe Walsh will be especially sweet.  Please consider giving Tammy's campaign some financial or GOTV support and share in the sweetness of this flip.

2) FL-09:                           Grayson  (D)                Long  (R)
     Polls: 9/21 (D-poll)         52%                        38%        D +14
     D-Link:   Alan Grayson

     My 2 Cents:  He's Back!  And ain't it Great.  Won't it be fun to see Alan back on the House Floor speaking truth to the Republican power and holding nothing back!  A word of caution however.  Since the only poll we have (that I'm aware of) is sponsored by the Grayson campaign, I have to advise that we take the 14 point lead with a grain of salt.  Still, its likely he is ahead by a reasonably good margin.  Please consider giving Alan your support.

3) FL-26:                           Garcia  (D)            Rivera  (R)
     Polls: 9/13 (SEIU)        50%                           41%        D +9
              9/13 (PPP)         46%                           39%        D +7
     D-Link:   Joe Garcia

     My 2 Cents: When you have two polls from separate organizations showing our candidate leading winning the race by similar margins, you gotta believe our chances for a flip are good.  This contest comes complete with a scandal where Republicans are apparently being accused of entering a phony Dem. candidate Justin Lamar Sternard in the Dem. Primary.  Rivera denies any affiliation with Mr. Srernard whose campaign funding is being investigated by the FBI.  This scandal comes complete with a "no trespassing or you'll get drenched" warning.  See what I mean here.  Pretty funny stuff!

4) MI-01:                         McDowell  (D)          Benishek  (R)
     Polls: 9/20 (D-poll)      49%                           40%        D +9
              9/19 (PPP)         44%                           42%        D +2
     D-Link:   Gary McDowell

     My 2 Cents:  Gary's campaign appears to be hammering home his defense of Medicare and his opponents votes to cut it, and it appears to be working based on the two polls so far.  This is probably closer to a 2 point and not a 9 point lead, but its probably a flip for us if we work at it and help McDowell GOTV.

5) CA-41:                         Takano  (D)              Tavaglione  (R)
     Polls: 8/12 (D-poll)      42%                           38%        D +4
     D-Link:   Mark Takano

     My 2 Cents:  A somewhat large grain of salt with this one.  The poll is sponsored by the Takano campaign and its an early August (old ) poll.  But on the positive side, if Takano had any lead back in August, chances are that it is bigger now as Dems. are generally polling better in September than they were in August.  Mark's a teacher, and proudly touts it in his campaign.  So if you're a teacher or you know or like teachers, please give Mark whatever support you can give.

6) CA-26:                       Brownley  (D)              Strickland  (R)
     Polls: 7/19 (D-poll)      48%                           44%        D +4
     D-Link:   Julia Brownley

     My 2 Cents:  Again, like CA41, we have an old poll sponsored by the Dem. campaign.  But, also again, I've go to believe that any sort of lead back in July is bigger now.

7) NH-02:                          Kuster  (D)                 Bass  (R)
     Polls: 9/25 (PPP)          51%                           45%        D +6
              8/12 (UNH)         37%                           42%        D -5
     D-Link:   Ann McLane Kuster

     My 2 Cents:  Wow! What a turn-around, from being 5 points down to 6 points ahead.  While such a dramatic shift in the polls usually raises suspicious eyebrows, this might be the real deal.  After all it is consistent with the same Statewide trend we are seeing towards President Obama.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if we were not seeing some coattail effect here.  Anyway, please consider helping Ann.  With a good GOTV effort we can flip Bass right on his ---!    

8) AZ-09:                       Sinema  (D)                   Parker  (R)
     Polls: 9/10 (GZA)        45%                           41%        D +3
     D-Link:   Kyrsten Sinema

     My 2 Cents: I'm a little concerned about this being a likely pick up opportunity since Arizona is not expected to be an Obama coattail State, but every District is different and this independent poll suggests this can be a flip.  Check out this smart ad and please consider giving Kyrsten your support.

9) MN-08:                         Nolan  (D)                  Cravaack  (R)
     Polls: 8/27 (D-poll)      47%                           44%        D +3
     D-Link:   Rick Nolan

     My 2 Cents:  This race is probably within the MOE, but the fact that this is Minnesota (strong Dem. turnout) and the fact that again the more recent national polls are trending blue, makes me think we have the edge in this race.  Also, for fun (if you can stomach it) here's a Disco ad from Rick's Opponent.  I think he looked rather good back in the 70s.

10) AZ-01:                     Kirkpatrick  (D)                  Paton  (R)
     Polls: 7/26 (R-poll)      46%                           43%        D +3
     D-Link:   Ann Kirkpatrick

     My 2 Cents:  The fact this is an older poll conducted by the Republican Paton campaign, makes me feel real good about the fact that it shows Kirkpatrick with a small lead.  Also, the fact that the Republicans have recent ads running against Ann (here) further indicates that they consider this a competitive race.  Please consider helping Ann help overcome the Republican's financial advantage in this race.

11) NH-01:                     Shea-Porter  (D)               Guinta  (R)
     Polls: 9/25 (PPP)          48%                           47%        D +1
              8/12 (UNH)         45%                           43%        D +2
     D-Link:   Carol Shea-Porter

     My 2 Cents:  Although Shea-Porter's lead is small and within the MOE, the fact that it has held constant over almost 2 months is a good sign.  Let's give Carol some love with a contribution and robust GOTV effort.

Well, that's my first 11 potential House pickups.  You may consider there are others that should be in the top 11, and if so I would be glad to know about them and here your arguments.  However, I limited my picks to polled races.  So while there might be races not yet polled where you feel our chances of flipping are good, I'm reluctant to include them without a supporting poll or two.

Please remember that the point of this Diary series is to help focus and encourage support for the Dem. House candidates we need to work for to strive towards our goal of taking majority control of the House.  So please consider volunteering for GOTV and/or donating to the Dem. House candidates in this series or others which you feel will help us take back the House.  Remember without majority control of the House, we are likely in for at least two more years of the same Republican obstructionist shit.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series where I will list my next 11 pick up opportunities to get us to the 22 we need and update the first 11!          

     

Originally posted to Doctor Who on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While it would be great to take back the house (9+ / 0-)

    Even chipping away at the GOP's lead in house seats would make it much harder for Boehner/Cantor to run the table in the next congress. But let's take it back.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:10:34 AM PDT

  •  Jack Torry, a political writer for the (8+ / 0-)

    Columbus Dispatch indicates that three gerrymandered Republican Districts in Ohio are in play, if we can win these three seats, then the Radically Redistricted Ohio House delegation may improve to 9-7 Republicans from the initially projected 12-4 split predicted by the gerrymander.

    http://www.dispatch.com/...

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:53:59 AM PDT

    •  And Pa. could realistically go from the GOp hope (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ohiodem1, blueintheface

      (and gerrymandered) 13-5 to 11-7, possiblt 10-8 but that's assuming a real blowout in the Phila. suburbs (possible, but with some absurd rigged districts...).

      "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

      by TofG on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:38:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  tip, rec, hotlist (6+ / 0-)

    I like the way you are doing this. Deserves more attention!

  •  Getting the House back will be difficult. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    howarddream, llywrch, pdx kirk

    It shouldn't be. Every member is up for re-election every two years.

    Then you find out people like Boehner are running unopposed. That's beyond gerrymandering. That's plain disturbing.

    -this space for rent-

    by EsnRedshirt on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:12:31 PM PDT

  •  New York is a House battleground (7+ / 0-)

    with six to ten seats in play. While NY is deep blue where the presidential election is concerned, it's got its red spots when it comes to Congress. In 2010, the Tea Party won some seats that we really need to take back - especially from Michael Grimm and Nan Hayworth.

    It's been slow but people are starting to focus on these races, with canvassing, phoning and fundraising. I started an ActBlue page - Battleground New York! - for small donor democracy to counteract the superPAC dollars already flooding in. The road to Speaker Pelosi runs through NY so please help out!

    Goal Thermometer

  •  Add the following to the list of discussion: (5+ / 0-)

    The race between Jerry Tetalman and Rep. Darrell Issa in California's 49th Congressional District.  Issa, as we know, is the infamous Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who hounded U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast & Furious fiasco and didn't allow Sandra Fluke to testify at the committee's hearing on contraception earlier this year.

    Jerry Tetalman is someone who deserves a lot of support, more so than he's getting.  He's also a strong progressive and definitely is a fighter.

    The 49th Congressional District in California has been red for quite sometime although Tetalman has pointed out it has become more Democratic in recent years.  There's even some progressives in the area.

    You can read my diary covering Tetalman's candidacy:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  Very good diary. Sadly, however, (as I know you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdx kirk

      know), the fact that Tetalman is a good solid progressive means that he has zero chance in this district, alas.

      The redistricting did make the 49th less scarlet, but it's still solid red. Issa is completely entrenched here. Even if that were not the case, no progressive could win here. You'd need to find a Democrat more in the Ben Nelson mold--someone who votes Dem 80% of the time but still feeds the wingnuts when necessary. Even then, it would be well nigh to impossible to turn this district blue.

      An OFA volunteer told me they're sending all their folks to Bilbray's district, because he really is vulnerable. In fact, I've noticed that the Dem there has many more ads up than Bilbray does, and that Bilbray's latest ad makes him sound like a good liberal who loves the environment. From that, I intuit that he must be scared.

      Nevertheless, I'll enjoy voting for your man! I enjoy voting against Issa every two years. Normally, however, I have to wait to see the ballot even to find out who's running against him. That's how invisible the Democrats are here.

      Enjoy the San Diego Zoo's panda cam! Now with new baby panda! And support Bat World Sanctuary

      by Fonsia on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:49:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not as solid red as you think... (0+ / 0-)

        View the following video of Jerry Tetalman and you will find out the video.  Look at the 1:07 mark of the video (that's 1 minute, 7 seconds into the video) and he'll explain the demographics of the 49th Congressional District.

        Since you mention Bilbray, I should also point out that Francine Busby, who ran against Bilbray in the 50th Congressional District a number of times has endorsed Jerry Tetalman.  So have all the 49th Congressional District Democratic organizations and the California Democratic Party.

        Here's the deal:  California's 49th Congressional District may have a lot of Republicans and Issa's base is entrenched there as you cite it is.  However, in doing my studying of the district, it isn't solid red like areas in say Utah are (Salt Lake City though is relatively Democratic).  A Democratic candidate by the name of Pete Ashdown ran for the U.S. Senate in Utah against Orrin Hatch in 2006, had little money (less than even Jerry Tetalman does today in his campaign), ZERO support from any Democratic organizations in the state or even in the country.  Ashdown is the founder of XMission,com, the first real web provider in the state of Utah and has been running the company since 1993.  He ran against Hatch in a state with districts more red than even the red districts in Southern California.  Ashdown even debated Orrin Hatch a number of times.  In the end, Ashdown won 31% of the vote, which was considerable noting the fact that his operations were tiny compared to Hatch's operations and considerable war chest.  Sure, it's difficult to win in Utah for Democrats but Ashdown is an Internet wiz and knows how to reach out to people in the state.

        I mean for goodness sake, when did people on Daily Kos consider supporting progressive Democrats running for government just because of the fact they have money or are in any particular category?  Hasn't anyone learned from Howard Dean's 50 state strategy before when he was DNC Chairman?

  •  Great diary, great determination (6+ / 0-)

    Republican money and effort is rapidly moving down-ticket, and we need to fight this battle on multiple fronts, too.  Our future is being held up by Congressional obstructionism - let's get Nancy her gavel back!

  •  This is great... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueintheface, Orlaine, Fonsia

    I think that Romney made a HUGE mistake selecting Ryan for a running mate. The GOP is going to lose massive votes among retired-aged voters which is going to be reflected in all races across the board.

    Just wait and see....

  •  The magic formula for taking back the House (5+ / 0-)

    at this late date is to nationalize the election in the Districts we lost in 2010.  

    Televised commercials should promote our candidates against those of the "Bush-Romney party."  

    We need a focused message that the local incumbent is a Bush- Romney supporter so that the stink will take them down.

  •  Whats the good Doctor's prescription.. (0+ / 0-)

    for the astronaut?  

    IE your take on CA-10, with Jose Hernandez vs Jeff Denham?

  •  Thanks for highlighting the AZ races (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueintheface, Orlaine

    I think they are both close but winnable,and $ will go farther in AZ than in a media market like California, or Florida.

    I so want to wake up on that Wed in November and have a Dem senator anda majority contingency of 5 DEMOCRATIC AZ house members!!

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" - F.D.R.

    by biscobosco on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:29:39 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, great info (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orlaine

    Have you considered adding an actblue link and goal thermometer?

  •  excellent work doctor! (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks. I have been wanting to see some info on the house races. Improving our position in the House is vital.

    .....it's on the table, under the watermelon she demurred. Thanks, I was planning on shaving anyway he replied.

    by pdx kirk on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:55:20 PM PDT

  •  Michigan 1st - Stupak old district (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor Who

    Because of Stupak's late withdrawal, Gary McDowell had a slapdash last-minute campaign in 2010.  Benisek, on the other hand, had the benefit of generic AFP and Crossroads GPS television ads trashing his opponent.  This is a low-cost media market so your contribution goes a long way.

    Gary McDowell lives in Saut Ste. Marie, in the U.P. (Yooper side) and has easier access to the L.P. (Troll side) where half the district is located, compared to his opponent who lives on the western border of the U.P.  There are also many folks from here who spent their working lives elsewhere and have retired back to their place of origin.  The issue of cutting Medicare has resonance with the retirees.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:51:39 AM PDT

  •  Huge issue. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor Who

    Unless we control both houses of Congress, there's not much Obama can do even if he wins the White House.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:51:56 AM PDT

  •  New Hampshire (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenheron

    I have just started an Act Blue Site focusing on New Hampshire because, as a Presidential swing state, having a close Governor's race, and two close House races, in some ways the future of America hinges on New Hampshire this year...other places as well,but definitely New Hampshire.

    Anyone want to inaugurate my Wining New Hampshire 2012 Act Blue site with the first donations?

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

    by mole333 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:40:42 AM PDT

  •  Remember organized vote stealing? It's real. (0+ / 0-)

    http://truth-out.org/...

    Key points:   Karl Rove's DataTrust, joined up with the Koch brothers called Themis are computer data mining operations, voter-eating machines, designed to juice the attack on voter rolls by GOP secretaries of state.

    So far, 22 million names have been purged in the last two years. Despite massive voter drives and the increase in Latino citizenship, Hispanic registration has dropped by 1 million in California since 2008.

    Both parties try it, but on a strict numerical scale, 90 percent of the victims are Democrats. In Republican held states, Democratic voter registration forms hit the shredder.

    As you can see, I'm not optimistic. Obama doesn't have this election in the bag, and neither do downstate candidates.

    This entire electoral system has to be nationalized for federal elections and run by a huge outside organization that both registers voters, monitors elections and counts the votes. If I knew of such an organization, I'd promote it.

  •  Another pitch for McDowell (0+ / 0-)

    That his environmental cred is sound. . . LIving where he does, he really cares about Lake Michigan and Lake Huron not becoming toxic waste dumps. His opponent, not so much, given his voting record in congress.
    Now it is true that McDowell is much less pro-choice than I would like, but given the demographics of that district, there is not much that can be done on that score.
    And btw I have personally discussed these issues with him, so although I doubt he is truly progressive I think he merits a little DK love and some Michigan $$

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:17:47 AM PDT

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