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House Dem 219   GOP 184   Ties 32

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How the House Would be Won     Permalink

Politico has an interesting article on what a Republican takeover of the House would look like. It divides Democratic seats in the House into "must win" (like CA-04), "majority makers" (like IA-03) and "landsliders" (like AZ-08). If the Republicans can't win nearly all of the first category, they won't make it. They also have to win a large fraction of the second category to get a majority. The third category is icing on the cake. It is often reported that the Republicans need 39 seats to take over the House. This statement is only true if the Republicans suffer no losses of their own. But they are virtually certain to lose DE-AL, HI-01, and LA-02, all of which are heavily Democratic. This means they have to win 42 Democratic seats, assuming no other losses.

Also worth considering is the difference between 218 seats in the House and a working majority. A number of new representatives are probably going to be tea partiers who are running on a platform of cutting the federal deficit. If the first thing a new Republican-controlled House does is bring up a bill to cut taxes--without cutting spending, which is always difficult to do because every line in the federal budget has supporters--then passing this bill would increase the deficit. Some of the people who ran on cutting the deficit may not be too keen on increasing it as their first official act. So in practice, to actually get anything done, the Republicans may have to pick up 45 to 50 seats, a much more difficult task than getting 39 because it requires winning some of the "landslider" seats, which the Democrats-who have more money than the Republicans--will fiercely defend.

Interestingly enough, as the Republican House caucus moves to the right, the Democratic one is likely to move to the left as many of the marginal seats that the Democrats will lose are occupied by blue dogs who won in the landslides of 2006 and 2008. Of course there will be endless arguments about whether the Democrats should have provided a clear going to be alternative to the Republicans or been more like them. But the bottom line is that a lot of the blood spilled in November is going to be blue-dog blood. Much as the Republicans hate her, there is no way they can actually defeat Nancy Pelosi in her own (very liberal) district. It is the Betsy Markeys and Suzanne Kosmases who are likely to bear the brunt of the voters' anger.

Of course, if the Republicans move to the right and the Democrats move to the left, the next House will be so hopelessly divided as to accomplish little or nothing. Besides, Starting Nov. 3, everyone in Congress will be focused on the 2012 elections rather than trying to govern.

With respect to the Senate the situation is murkier. In the still unlikely event the Republicans win 51 seats and also the House, the voters will expect them to govern. But other than tax cuts (which some of their own members will oppose unless spending is cut, too) they really have no plan to govern. Come 2012, the Democrats are going to say: "You got control and what did you do with it?" However, at this time, the best guess is for one party to have a small majority in the House (could be either one) and for the Democrats to have a razor-thin majority in the Senate. Despite initial polls, once the money starts flowing, it will be hard for the Republicans to take California, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Today's Polls     Permalink

Here are the new polls.

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Independent I-pct Start End Pollster
California Barbara Boxer* 46% Carly Fiorina 48%     Sep 02 Sep 02 SurveyUSA
California Barbara Boxer* 47% Carly Fiorina 48%     Sep 06 Sep 06 Rasmussen
Colorado Michael Bennet* 43% Ken Buck 40%     Aug 28 Sep 01 POS/FMMM
Delaware Chris Coons 37% Mike Castle 48%     Sep 02 Sep 02 Rasmussen

New House Polls

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I-pct Start End Pollster
WA-08 Suzan DelBene 41% Dave Reichert 54%     Aug 31 Sep 02 SurveyUSA

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