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Buck McKeon, Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), the most recent retiree from the House.

Though less than three weeks have elapsed in the 2014 election year, an interesting and potentially pivotal narrative in the election cycle has already emerged. In that nineteen-day span, over a half dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives, from both parties, have already announced that they would not be running for re-election later this year.

There are, at present, more than thirty seats in the House that are guaranteed to have new occupants by this time next year. In an era where incumbents, even in wave years, are largely insulated from defeat, these so-called "open seats" take on enormous significance in the battle over the balance of power in the Congress.

But, as it happens, just because there may be a large and growing number of open seats in the House (one presumes that more will come as filing deadlines across the nation draw near—only two states have already had their filing deadlines), it does not mean that all of those seats should be considered on equal footing. What follows is an examination of the variety of ways in which electoral observers can look at the growing list of non-incumbent contests gracing the 2014 electoral schedule.

Please read below the fold for more.


Our own Daily Kos Elections House ratings list only a pair of open-seat contests in this category, but other publications have even more contests in "coin flip" territory. Oftentimes, incumbents are able to create a firewall in seats that would be far more attainable without that incumbent in the mix. One of our designees as a "tossup" fits that description to a T.

Iowa's 3rd district is swingy territory, with pockets of pretty deep blue offset, at least in part, by Republican-leaning rural areas. The net result is a district that President Obama carried by a 51-47 margin in 2012, mirroring almost perfectly the national margins. Despite the lack of a clear partisan tilt, veteran Rep. Tom Latham might've been well suited to win there, if not comfortably, for the foreseeable future. But his retirement after two decades in office wiped the slate clean, and Democrats have to be considered at least an even money bet to win the seat.

The converse of Iowa's 3rd district could well be the New York 21st. Vacated earlier in the week by third-term Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, the 21st also more or less mirrored national numbers (Obama 52-46), and has a history of being willing to vote for candidates from both parties. Republicans were still gunning for it with Owens in the mix, but not having to battle an incumbent who has shown the ability to stare down legitimate challenges not once but twice has to be a development which greatly pleases the NRCC.

While we only have these two races as true tossups, DKE also has a total of eight other open seats that we categorize as "leaning" to either party. In these cases, it wouldn't take a big partisan tailwind in the national electoral mood to send one, or all, of those races in the direction of either the Democrats or the Republicans.

While these districts have many differences (regional, urban v. rural, etc), they all have one or both of the following critical characteristics: they are all districts where (at the presidential level, at least) things are reasonably competitive, or they are all districts where both parties have recruited credible candidates into the race. In most cases, they have both.

These are the districts, in short, where you can expect both parties to go "all in" in an effort to alternately preserve a tenuous hold on a district, or seize territory long conceded to the other side. A lot of cash is going to be headed to these half-dozen or so locales between now and November.


Daily Kos Elections currently has a quartet of districts described as "likely" to fall to the incumbent party, even as open seats. Democrats are defending one of those seats (Carolyn McCarthy's NY-04), while the Republicans are defending three of those seats (Tom Cotton's AR-04, Buck McKeon's CA-25, and Steve Daines' MT-AL).

If any of these four districts were to flip come November, it would be genuinely surprising. Not "Blake Farenthold seizing TX-27 in 2010" surprising, but worthy of a "wow," nevertheless. But, as in some of those tossup or lean races, either the district demographics might be slowly easing the territory into competitiveness (see: CA-25, which Obama came close to carrying in 2012) or the underdog party is at least putting credible candidates into the mix.

Still, all of these will be uphill slogs. On paper, CA-25 looks like the best of the bunch here, but even it has some caveats. Virtually all of the elected bench in the district is Republican (though the region did elect its first Democrat to the state legislature in 2012). The Democrats are countering, in all probability, with Lee Rogers, a podiatrist who performed very credibly in 2012, when he held McKeon to 55 percent of the vote. But Rogers might've actually had a better draw with the incumbent, who had some political baggage and campaign skills that had grown far beyond rusty. Which actually brings us to our next category.


In an odd way, one wonders if there were many tears shed at the NRCC this week when McKeon surprised absolutely nobody by finally proclaiming that he was standing down. After all, his retirement was so expected that two heavyweight Republicans, former state legislator Tony Strickland (who had run in the swing 26th district, and lost, in 2012) and state senator Steve Knight, had already announced bids for the 25th district.

What's more, the GOP might be better off without McKeon in the mix. McKeon, in his mid-70s, had never been seriously challenged in this district, which has historically occupied much of the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys north of Los Angeles. The territory was rock-ribbed Republican turf when McKeon got elected there over twenty years ago. But an influx of diversity into the region (in fast-growing Palmdale and Lancaster, in particular) has created a district that Mitt Romney needed every Anglo Santa Clarita Valley vote to carry (50-48). But McKeon still ran, and voted, like his district was the uber-white, uber-Republican oasis to which he was elected in 1992. Rogers, an energetic Democrat who may well have been the first Democrat in the district to actually spend a six-figure sum to win, held him to a single-digit margin on Election Day 2012, and immediately launched for a rematch.

Rogers is fundraising at a better clip than 2012, and has to be considered a serious candidate for the Democrats. But he would've been far better suited to run against a rusty McKeon than either of the much more battle-tested Republicans that will likely await him come November.

But the textbook example of this "addition by subtraction" maxim is ... without question ... one Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, a perennially embattled Republican by dint of her own batshittedness, has routinely limped home with low single-digit wins in the most reliably Republican district in her state. We tend to forget, because of Bachmann's routinely close victories, that the Minnesota 6th is a district where Barack Obama got beat by 15 percentage points in 2012, and even lost by a dozen points in 2008, when he was winning nationally in a landslide. With Bachmann finally heading to the sidelines, her replacement will, in all probability, be decided in the GOP primary. It's unlikely the Democrats will even contest the seat, absent an equally Bachmann-esque Republican emerging from said primary (and ... well ... yup. That could happen).


Finally, there are the open seats which will probably not merit mention past September. Why September? Because, with the lone exception of Louisiana (and their quirky brand of electoral politics), everyone else will have dispatched with their primary elections in September.

And, yes, roughly half of the open seats on the docket in this 2014 election cycle will be decided in the primary election season, which begins in March in Texas and rolls forward until September 9th, when a handful of New England states close the festivities.

Two of the seats which became open this week exemplify this type of open seat. Both the California 11th (long held by George Miller in the East Bay) and the NoVa-centric Virginia 8th (held by Jim Moran) are districts that Barack Obama carried by a better than 2-to-1 margin in 2012. It is doubtful the Republicans will even bother to put up a fight here, and the numbers would indicate that to do so would be a fool's errand.

What is the most lopsided seat open this cycle? For trivia buffs, that would appear to be the North Carolina 12th, held by Mel Watt, who resigned to become the head of the FHFA late last year. In a bit of a controversial decision, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory elected to hold the special election in concert with the regular election calendar, meaning the seat will remain vacant throughout the year. It is a 78-21 Obama seat, meaning that the general election will almost certainly be a formality.

The sad news, for Democrats, at least, is that the "fuhgeddaboutit" seats include a pair of seats that, in all probability, mean that the GOP will start Election Night 2014 with a +2 already in their column. It is not impossible, of course, but it seems incredibly unlikely that the Democrats will be able to defend the seats being vacated by a pair of their incumbents: Mike McIntyre (NC-07) and Jim Matheson (UT-04). Both went for Mitt Romney easily (the North Carolina seat a bit less so). Now, personally, I dissent from many of my colleagues in that I think it is at least possible for the Democrats to defend a seat like the North Carolina 7th. But the Utah 4th is almost certainly a goner, and both seats were drawn in the 2010 redistricting cycle to shed away enough Democrats to endanger both incumbents (both of whom had brutally tough showdowns in 2012), and render the districts nearly impossible to hold for the Democrats post-McIntyre and post-Matheson.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:14 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am frightened by 2010 house votes but encouraged (15+ / 0-)

    by how well we did in the Senate the last few times when we were in dire danger of losing it. I guess the best we can do is fight every battle to the best of our ability and see what the gods have in store for us this novemeber. here in NY19 or is it 20? i will be doing all i can to drive congressman Gibson out of office and replace him with this bright, gay guy who has a ton of money and a lot of good ideas.

  •  This doesn't feel like 2006 or 2010. (17+ / 0-)

    In those, the side with the momentum was apparent early on. A lot can happen between now and November.

  •  There are more of us than of them. But we ... (20+ / 0-)

    ... have to be registered, be sure the registration sticks in the books, go to the polls, persist no matter how long are the lines AND assure that like-minded voters ALSO go to the polls.

    I like the analogy to a meeting in a room full of voters for both major parties. There may not be as many Republicans as Democrats, but if some Democrats leave and the Republicans stay, they will carry the day.

    And if they split up over their ideal candidate AND we don't over ours, we will win.

    Turnout is EVERYthing, especially in an off-Presidential election year.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:46:30 AM PST

  •  PA-06 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Mimikatz, Odysseus

    Why isn't PA-06 a pure toss-up?  Dead even with national result in 2008.  R+6 in 2012, but it is hard to say the district really moved that far right in 4 years.  No major announced candidates so candidate recruitment could easily still swamp 2-3 point difference if that is what it is.  FEC lists 2 candidates, neither of which have as yet raised any money: COSTELLO, RYAN A, a Chester county Republican county commisioner, and Michael D. Parrish , Chief Executive Officer at DALECO RESOURCES CORP listed as a Democrat.  I gotta think those won't be the final nominees, but who knows.

    •  in 2012 it was more like R+3 (5+ / 0-)

      Romney won with a bit over 51% of the 2-party vote and nationally he got a tad bit over 48%, so by finding the difference we get about R+3.

      Because it is a suburban district that is traditionally Republican, and Democrats tend to do more poorly in those areas in congressional races than presidential ones, we should assume that the district leans Republican even when open, all else equal. Of course all else may not be equal, as it could still turn into a Republican or Democratic-favored year, or one side may get a much better candidate than the other.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 12:42:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unless candidates learn from Obama, (8+ / 0-)

        that your organization contacts every potential voter, gets voters to vote early so you bank votes, and gets people to the polls to vote.

        The Virginia races show that 3 democrats learned from Obama somewhat, and got votes banked, ran on issues important to voters that voted for them, and did something nobody thought possible even on election night, to capture all 5 State-wide offices while the party in presidential office pointed to the opposite party controlling the governorship of Virginia.

        •  Steve, how many of these could be won with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          superb ID and GOTV operations?

        •  Absothought key to appeal to and turn out women. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That is the key.  Women will hopefully turn out over threats to reproductive rights, promises to enact minimum wage hike, and more educational opportunities for themselves and their children.

          Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

          by Mimikatz on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 05:01:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  VA was a different story. (0+ / 0-)

          The statewide election attracted a lot of interest due to the various controversies surrounding Cuccinelli and Jackson. Similarly, the huge attention focused on Wisconsin's Act 10 attracted a record-breaking turnout in the recall election. The midterms are unlikely to produce a similar effect, no matter how campaigns contact voters, because there simply won't be enough energy when two relatively bland candidates fight each other. It is surprising how many people I know deny the existence of any elections except for presidential ones.

        •  banking votes (0+ / 0-)

          You can't vote early in PA.  Absentees require a good reason.

    •  The largest percentage of (0+ / 0-)

      voters is in Chester County, which federally is right in the middle (Obama won it in 2008 and lost it in 2012 by only a few hundred votes), and will usually mirror the results of statewide races, but downballot is still very Republican.  The county's entire delegation to Harrisburg are Republicans except for one Senator (and it was a big deal when he was elected).   The county is realigning but it's not there yet and downballot generic R should start out with an advantage over downballot generic D, though either can win, which is pretty much the definition of Lean R.  

  •  NC-07 May not be gone (8+ / 0-)

    The Republican Gov is wildly unpopular. The R sweep in 2012 has resulted in very unpopular and even, for women's health, the kind of batshit crazy that is the party's base.

    Also, for this,
    "It is doubtful the Republicans will even bother to put up a fight here, and the numbers would indicate that to do so would be a fool's errand."

    I think it is important to try to have someone in every race. No one knows when a family-values republican will implode, and there needs to be someone there to pick it up. Also, just abandoning a seat means demoralizing up on the whole party structure. It is a long term investment for certain, and a kind of a call option in case something explodes.

    •  NC-07 is gone. (0+ / 0-)

      This district is almost 60% Romney. It is almost impossible for a Democrat to win there. Recent polls have shown Kay Hagan to be very vulnerable statewide, with Obamacare eclipsing whatever controversies were caused by the state legislature's agenda (which won't bring that much attention this year in any case). And that doesn't even take into account the extreme gerrymander the GOP carried out in the state - 10 relatively safe GOP districts, and three Democratic ones.

  •  Umm Steve, VA-10! (8+ / 0-)

    We may be down UT-4 and NC-7, but we'll also be up VA-10.

    And damnit, I've working my ass off down here to get Blake Farenthold out of office. Please click the link in my sig and toss $3 our way to make that happen. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

    •  Lest we forget FL-13 (4+ / 0-)

      With Sink in the race it's a pretty good bet we'll be picking it up.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:32:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  VA-10 could be fun. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemSign, 207wickedgood

      In just a few days the Republicans will decide whether to hold a convention or a primary. If they hold a convention, they could empower the far-far-right, and potentially choose Dick Black as their candidate - yes, the one who claimed that abortion is like the Holocaust, military rape is something to be proud of, spousal rape is great, and distributed plastic fetuses to members of the legislature. Needless to say, it would be a hilarious replay of last year's governor's election in Virginia.

  •  Members of Congress are fed up with being less ... (3+ / 0-)

    popular than dog poop and hemorrhoids. It's time for them to go home, and get a real job where they can be treated like dog poop and hemorrhoids like the rest of us.

    If my life was really that important someone would have put music to it by now.

    by glb3 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 12:56:29 PM PST

  •  Mi-1 (10+ / 0-)

    Bart Stupak's old seat is occupied by a guy (Benicik) who is just about as batty as they get. The Dems neglected this entire area, the Kochs dumped a gazillion into it and in the end the Dem challenger only lost by a few hundred votes.

    This entire discussion is plagued by a failure of imagination.

    •  50 state strategy works (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, Odysseus

      But it has to start at the state level. Grassroots can carry you a long way, but at some point you need the national institutional support. I am often disappointed by the races they choose to back, or choose to leave out. I am a lot better impressed by the candidates backed by the PCCC, DFA, and Blue America.

    •  Benny (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Benishek's problem isn't so much that he's batty - at least not more so than other tea party memebers, and probably not even the battiest in our delegation - it's that he's palpably anti-social.  He's literally locked out constituents coming to see him in his office and had his staff talk to the folks through the door.  Regardless of his beliefs, he simply doesn't have the personality that makes for a long political life in public service.

      The good news is that we can get him out sooner than her burns out.  This time, we have national organizations providing technical assisteance at the moment to the challenger in MI-01.  Hopefully, this turns into funding.  They tried to make Benny's district safer, and he still won by a razor-thin margin last go around.  He's always in trouble, and it's never safe to have this district listed as anything more than Lean R if only because of incumbency.

      It's not even a failure of imagination; it's looking at the facts then willfully deciding to put them aside.  I'm sorry, but this is classic concern-trolling, and I'm not afraid to say it.

      •  Worked against him two years ago (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The office space was shameful. The nationals pulled a talented staff member out and didn't replace her until September. They simply didn't believe it was possible.

        Nevertheless we came close. Were it not for a massive local television barrage the last week we'd have made it.

        I have been refusing to donate to the national effort since. They could have taken that district back. Unemployment is over 24 percent.

        •  What do you think of Jerry? (0+ / 0-)

          In my mind the Democratic candidate is almost inconsequential givn the historic blueness of the district, but it certainly makes it easier when we have a good candidate.  

          Everyone seems to be down on Jerry after his first fundraising haul, and that will unfortunately have a cooling effect on his future fundraising because of the unimaginative people you mention.  But, Dems would be foolish to sleep on a district with this history and this shakey and weak an incumbent.  Because, you're right, we lost last time because the national (and state) party was sleeping on this district.  Benny pulled out a what?  0.5% advantage?  That's not the district's fault, particularly given it was made more red.  What that tells you that was that this district was (and is) infinitely gettable.

          •  District absolutely winnable (0+ / 0-)

            We looked at the number of retired union workers who failed to vote at all in 10. Huge! Now their fellow workers have right-to-work-for-less.

            No, I'm not impressed by the imagination of those up there. As you said, even with a huge Koch investment and no staffer in August, it was won by only a fraction of a percent.

    •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Something else in our favor here in Michigan is the moving violation that is Dave Agema.

      WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee will visit Washington for meetings this week with a lot to be optimistic about: a chance of retaking the U.S. Senate, a lame-duck Democratic president whose approval ratings are low, and the faulty rollout of the Affordable Care Act working to the party’s benefit.

      Then there’s Dave Agema, the Republican national committeeman from Michigan.

      For many members of a Grand Old Party that publicly admits it needs a more diverse base to win statewide and national elections, Agema is anathema; his links on Facebook to anti-gay, anti-Muslim tracts are widely denounced amid calls that he step down — some from members of his own party.

      Until they have the very simple courage to force this guy out of office, he's going to be a slow rolling disaster for the MIGOP for the rest of the election season.  The question isn't whether 2014 will be a bad year for the GOP in Michigan, but how bad?  

      Their best case scenario is that they win all state-wide offices, again, keep the Dems gains in the state house and senate to a member or two in each house, and narrowly lose the Senate seat and keep two of the three competitive House seats.  I mean, that's still really good for them if they are able to hold all of those, but it's obvious they are playing major defense all ovr the map.

  •  Do we have any names yet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, Eric Nelson

    for NY-04?

    And I hadn't even heard about Owens (NY-21) stepping down. Must have gotten buried under the Christielanche. Unless the demographics there have been shifting our way, and we field an excellent candidate, I think that will be tougher than a tossup.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 01:38:07 PM PST

    •  This week Owens announced. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, sidnora, wu ming, Odysseus

      Frankly I don't see why the Dems aren't contesting every single NY district.  The reddest seat is an R+9.  Every other seat is an R+3 or better.  Even if the Dems lose NY-21 there are several other seats in NY alone that they can pick up to offset the loss.  They shouldn't lose ANY seat and in fact should flip a few.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:36:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think they should be (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, 207wickedgood, Odysseus

        contesting every seat in the country - I'm a big fan of the 50 State Strategy.

        I'm involved in local politics downstate, and it's more complicated than just the numbers. People on the other side of the country look at the numbers and can't figure out why we don't own NY-11 and NY-02. But there are deep cultural reasons for 11 - reasons that may be changing, but very, very slowly - and 02 has a longtime incumbent who hasn't had a credible challenger in my memory. You can't just pull good candidates out of thin air, and the county parties are not what they should be.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:40:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  we understand (0+ / 0-)

          New York politics isn't as impenetrable as you make it sound.

          ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

          by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:42:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  NY-02 would be easier (0+ / 0-)

          if the head of the DCCC would actually support an opponent to King.  NY-11 is a tough nut to crack because of the whole Staten Island Brooklyn thing.  Despite that though the Dems should be contesting it anyway.  For one, you never know when Grimm is going away in silver bracelets and you never know when King will get tired of the tea bagging bullshit and call it quits.  

          This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

          by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:10:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re NY-02, (0+ / 0-)

            once again, who is that challenger? I'm usually quick to criticize the DCCC, but in this case I just don't see anyone for them to support. Of course I'll be thrilled if that changes.

            Re NY-11, we have a credible challenger, but a flawed one. Domenic Recchia, who just left his City Council seat, has been running for a long time, and is very well-funded, both through his own efforts and the D-trip. I expect that this race will be my top-priority effort for this cycle as far as volunteer work goes, but it will be a challenge to motivate the city's extremely liberal activists to come work for him. They all remember Michael McMahon, whom they helped defeat ethically-challenged Republican incumbent Vito Fossella, only to watch him behave so much like a Republican himself there was no appetite for protecting him in 2010. (Notably, McMahon voted against the ACA).

            Recchia's also quite conservative, and not terribly well-liked by liberals in his former Council district,  but his biggest problem is that he's from the Brooklyn portion of the district, and Staten Islanders consider this "their' seat, regardless of party affiliation, ideology, or anything else.

            I don't think this district has ever been represented by an off-islander; if he wins it'll be a first in my memory.

            And we also don't know whether someone's going to crawl out of the woodwork to challenge Bishop again in NY-1. He's had a couple of squeakers in recent cycles.

            "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

            by sidnora on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:29:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, and about NY-04? (0+ / 0-)

        Looks like our odds-on candidate is the county DA, Kathleen Rice. I didn't like her when she was running for State AG, and I still don't.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:43:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No Democrat outside the South and Jim Matheson (0+ / 0-)

        can win an R+9 district. When we did win that district it wasn't that Republican.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:41:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nick Rahall R+14. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I get your point.  My point was that NY-27 is by far the reddest district in NY (actually it's an R+8 not an R+9).  EVERY OTHER DISTRICT is an R+3 or better.  That's 26 out of 27 districts.  Frankly if the Dems felt that NY-27 was just too far out of reach and instead focused on the other 5 not currently occupied by Democrats then I'd be perfectly fine with that too but I'm a 50 state 4345 district guy and if you're gonna compete aggressively in 26 districts it only makes sense to compete in all 27 of them.  

          This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

          by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:17:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the census defines WV as in the South. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't argue with that.

            ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

            by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:20:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL nice loophole (0+ / 0-)

              While culturally it fits with the rest of Appalachia, geographically West Virginia is as south as Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia or Kentucky.  Not exactly the whose who of southern states.

              This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

              by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:05:26 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:


                Dude, election are about people. The people in WV fit culturally with the south. If you uprooted the entire population of Alabama and moved them to Fargo they'd still vote like southerners.

                It's a brand new rock.

                by RevolutionRock on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:06:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Um so do teh people between (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Philly and Pittsburg

                  Still doesn't make it a southern state.

                  West Virginia was a state formed as a result of the Civil War, when it split off from the rest of Virginia and joined the Union side.  Historically and geographically it is NOT a southern state.  Culturally it is Appalachia not southern although the two do have many similarities and there are many who cross over from one to another.    

                  This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

                  by DisNoir36 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:57:28 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No they don't (0+ / 0-)

                    The voting history of West Virginia is more comparable to states like Alabama and Louisiana (solid Dem for decades, now realigning with the GOP) than central Pennsylvania, which has always been pretty Republican.  Also, while West Virginia is predominantly Baptist and Evangelical, central PA is Protestant and Catholic, and just in general does not have much culturally in common.  I think WV is most correctly classified as Upland South (like Kentucky) which incorporates both the Southern aspects and the Appalachian ones, while the entirety of Pennsylvania is the Mid-Atlantic, or maybe an argument could be made for part of it being the Midwest, but it's not the South.

                    •  Your argument completely falls apart (0+ / 0-)

                      considering that parts of Pennsylvania are part of the same Northern Appalachia that West Virginia is a part of.  West Virginia shares a longer border with Pennsylvania or even Maryland than it does with Kentucky.  Parts of Pennsylvania have NOTHING in common culturally with Mid Atlantic states with the exception of eastern PA.  Western PA is far more similar to West Virginia and eastern Ohio than with Delaware, Maryland or NJ.  

                      You also completely discount the history and geography of West Virginia.  To state West Virginia is a southern state because it's people share similarities religiously or politically with other states in the south doesn't change the fact that it's pretty far fucking north to be considered south.  By that same rationale Indiana could be considered a southern state being it has a large population of Baptist and Evangelical Christians (as well as Catholics.  Notre Dame and all) and is republican.  

                      Oh and BTW Kentucky was also a Union state during the Civil War.  At best it could be said that it was a border state between the North and South much like Kansas (of Bleeding Kansas infamy), Missouri, Maryland and West Virginia which were all slave states who joined the Union.  

                      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

                      by DisNoir36 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:31:38 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  SW PA (0+ / 0-)

                        particularly Greene and Washington Counties do indeed resemble WV.  However, by central PA I generally think of places like Franklin County or Juniata County, which are really more similar to rural Maryland or rural Ohio or even rural New Jersey than WV.  I'm not sure if I really understand your point about where WV is, but the fact that it's farther north is why I think of it as the Upland South.  

                        There's really no need to get upset; I was just discussing an interesting geographical topic as someone who's familiar with the areas being discussed, not trying to attack you.

                  •  And also (0+ / 0-)

                    For the love of God, it's Pittsburgh with an h. [/petpeeve]

  •  Wouldn't it be nice (4+ / 0-)

    if the Democrats came out and seperated themselves from the GOP on a big issue?
      For instance, civil rights. No more domestic spying. No more stop-and-frisk. Respect for the 4th and 5th Amendments.
      Or the War on some Terror. Ending the Drone Wars. Declaring victory.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 01:55:58 PM PST

    •  That would require (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, demreplib33

      Them to also stop being bought and sold wholesale by Wall Street.

      Not going to happen overnight, no matter how politically popular and expedient it would be.

      •  Don't agree. There are issues that Wall St (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        doesn't care about enough, that could be big enough to help.

        Legalization of pot, minimum wage, immigration, unemployment insurance, climate, a big energy re-build for jobs, etc.  A strong voter bill of rights could help too though it wouldn't pass yet.

        For real systemic change, you're exactly right though, imo.

        •  most of those things Wall Street would oppose (0+ / 0-)

          the economic ones. But that doesn't mean we can't pass some of them once we get a majority again. Definitely a minimum wage increase and immigration reform, a new voting rights act.

          ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

          by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:44:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  pro-tip: democratic candidates don't do this (0+ / 0-)

      because the Democratic base doesn't care. Democrats have more pressing issues to be concerned about. Issues that directly affect their livelihood like wage increases, employment and access to healthcare and higher education. These issues are prioritized because our base bears little relation to the netroots. Do you think a young mexican-american will vote based on drone strikes when his mom is at risk of being deported? There are a plethora of other examples that are similar.

    •  Incumbent parties don't care about civil liberties (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Civil liberties (what you mentioned) are usually what the opposition party cares about, and forgets once it takes power. Under Bush, Democrats were against Guantanamo, indefinite detention, military commissions, war on terror etc. Once they gained power, they stopped paying that much attention, and instead Rand Paul is the one making speeches about drone attacks, Ted Cruz is fighting the NSA etc.

      •  Obama has already said he's amenable to NSA reform (0+ / 0-)

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:45:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Truly aggravating (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson
    It's unlikely the Democrats will even contest the seat
    What does that say to the Democrats and independents in that district? That the party doesn't even care enough to provide them an option? Even in the most reliably Democratic urban districts, the Republicans always run a candidate. We need to stay in the game.
    •  not true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen

      There are plenty of urban seats where Republicans don't run candidates. At this point there are plenty of dead zones for democrats where it isn't worth investing money. Do you really think we can win seats in mcmansion-filled, heavily evangelical districts that gave over 70 percent of the vote to Romney? Let's try and get more of our base to vote in demographically favorable districts instead of trying to get old white conservative men toll vote for us.

    •  Some districts are impossible to win. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      demreplib33, 207wickedgood

      If a seat is 55% Romney, then yes, Democrats should run a viable candidate - it forces the other side to spend money, and if unforeseen developments take place, who knows what will happen. If a CD is 60% R, then there's no way, I repeat, no way that anyone but a Republican will win, as long as the GOPer isn't convicted of a felony or something like that. I am a supporter of the 50-state strategy, but it's not possible to contest every race.

  •  Jim Matheson's UT-04 is VERY problematic (5+ / 0-)

    But then again, I really CANNOT stand Mia Love so I hope, god willing, she won't be elected or if she is, she'll be a one-term Congresswoman.

    Matheson's UT-04 district is red and he was only able to win November 2012 because of his long history in Utah, campaigning and stature.  Now Democrats have to start from scratch.

    •  Dems can focus on better districts (4+ / 0-)

      UT-04 is lost.  But there are 100 other districts the Dems can focus on which are bluer.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:37:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        demreplib33, Odysseus

        And in fact, a greater opportunity for Democrats in Utah, if they want to go after a UT seat, is UT-02 where Luz Robles is running and there's going to be greater traction there vs. say UT-04.  Of course, UT-02 also includes Salt Lake City and that's the most liberal part of UT.

        •  that's backwards (0+ / 0-)

          UT-04 is more Democratic than UT-02.

          ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

          by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:47:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ??????? (0+ / 0-)

            I don't follow you.   UT-02 includes more liberal constituency than UT-04 although that doesn't necessary mean UT-02 is Democratic-leaning or a tossup.  Being a Democrat doesn't always mean you're liberal.

            In Utah, there aren't as many liberal Democrats as there are conservative or moderate Democrats.  That's just the way the Mormon community tends to be as it's a secluded part of the U.S compared to most parts of the U.S.  I know this well because my mother grew up in Ogden, UT back in the 1950's and 1960's, which historically has been one of the most conservative parts of the state.  Being a liberal is bloody tough in UT, unless you're in Salt Lake City or Park City.  Otherwise, it's moderate conservative/conservative across the board (depending on who you talk to).

            Point I'm making... Perhaps I didn't clarify it effectively, is that the Democratic Party can have more traction with UT-02 because it contains more options for different types of Democrats than UT-04.  I'm sure there are liberal Democrats in UT-04 but the problem is, they don't overwhelm the district.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be writing off UT-04 as an opportunity for a pickup.

            On the other hand, I'm not arguing UT-02 is a pickup either (I really don't know that to be honest) but there's a better chance at winning it than UT-04 at this point.  Luz Robles is wisely running as a moderate Democrat (I also don't think she's liberal but I could be wrong) in UT-02 but she wouldn't be able to run like that in UT-04 easily.  She'd have to be a blue dog Democrat, like Jim Matheson, if she'd run in UT-04.

            •  check Wikipedia (0+ / 0-)

              UT-04 is R+14. UT-02 is R+16. Jim Matheson represented more of UT-02 than UT-04 when he ran for re-election in 2012, but he chose UT-04, probably because it was a slightly more competitive district than UT-02.

              ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

              by James Allen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:50:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with the PVIs (0+ / 0-)

                But they give me absolutely ZERO insight into what kind of Democrats reside in UT-02 and UT-04.

                For starters, the PVIs on UT-02 and UT-02 aren't much different.

              •  Also note, Matheson was running for re-election (0+ / 0-)

                In 2012 so unlike Luz Robles, he didn't have time to start grassroots from the ground up very well.  When you're a candidate running for office, you have more freedom to campaign whereas when you're in office, it's a bit different.  Running a campaign organically isn't as easy when you're running for re-election.  It may have been strategic for Matheson to run in UT-04 at the time but how much time did he really have to campaign and grow the grassroots?

                You're right UT-04 is a more competitive (or was back in 2012) but the point I'm making is that given there's no Democrat as of yet running in UT-04, if we're going to write off UT-04 for now, then the only real shot Democrats have at getting any traction is in UT-02, which I should point out, again, contains most of Salt Lake City which has a considerable liberal constituency.  Also, the 2012 Democratic challenger in UT-02 got more votes than any of the other Democratic candidates in UT-01 and UT-02.

            •  Matheson (2+ / 0-)

              and any future Congressional winner in Utah need lots of crossover support from Republicans in order to win an election.  Neither district contains many Democrats, and what kind of Democrat they are really doesn't matter when there are that few of them relatively, because they don't have the power to decide any elections.  I would actually argue by your logic that if UT-02 had a liberal Democrat running because that represented the Democrats in the district, that person would lose big because they would attract no crossover support, making it a worse target.  Alternatively, if UT-04 nominates a Blue Dog because that represents the Dems in the district, that person would have a better chance of winning GOP voters like they would need to.  But really, we're talking about a 29% Obama district vs a 30% Obama district (adjust up a little for Romney's favorite son bonus, but still) and Matheson was a unique situation.  

              •  You're misreading my logic (0+ / 0-)

                First off, the current Democratic Candidate running in UT-02 is a moderate Democrat (Luz Robles) and also a popular State Senator.

                Second, you are aware of the demographics in Salt Lake City, right?  This is the largest city in Utah and same city that elected hard core liberal Rocky Anderson who was the first Mayor to protest against the Iraq War and left the Democratic Party because of Barack Obama not being liberal enough.  It's in UT-02.  UT-04 has NONE of these demographics.

                Third, Utah has a growing Hispanic population.  Hispanics might not necessarily be empowered to vote or register to vote unless there's someone that speaks out to them or reaches out to them.  From what I've understood, Rep. Chris Stewart hasn't and he's a traditional Mormon.

                Fourth, I'm not talking about winning UT-02.  I don't even know if UT-02 is winnable.  All I know is that if you're talking about growing the Democratic base (and I'm not suggesting by growing it will UT-02 be winnable), it's easier to start with UT-02 than UT-04 because to be frank, most of the UT-04 voters that are Democratic in that district are conservative or moderate conservative.

              •  Also... (0+ / 0-)

                Not ONCE did Barack Obama campaign in Utah ever even since he first ran for President of the United States.  There was very little outreach in the state even while Obama was unpopular in Utah.

          •  I should say on secluded.... (0+ / 0-)

            In the second paragraph, I'm referring to the Mormon community in Utah, not outside of the state.

          •  UT-02 is R+18; UT-04 is R+16 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Frankly they're both beat red.  

            -But there are 5 seats in NY that are R+3 or better
            -NE-02 is R+5
            -NV has 2 seats that are R+5 or better
            -MN has 2 R+2 seats
            -MI has 9 seats that are R+7 or better and most are R+5 or better
            -IA has 2 seats that are R+5 or better and the even money one is open.
            -IL has 4 R+5 or better seats
            -FL has 4 R+5 seats or better
            -NJ has 2 R+5 or better and one is open.
            -CA has 6 seats that are R+5 or better and one is open
            -NM and CO both have an R+5 or better seat that can be flipped.
            -OH has an R+4 and an R+3 seat
            -PA has 5 R+5 seats and one is open
            -VA has 4 R+5 seats or better and one is open
            -WA has an R+1 and an R+2
            -WI has 4 R+5 seats or better

            That's 54 GOP held seats that are R+5 or better.  5 have retiring GOP incumbents which means they're open and a sixth FL-13 will likely be flipped by Alex Sink.  

            ALL those seats represent better targets than both seats in Utah.  Granted this is a very simple analysis and there are more factors to consider than PVI ratings but considering the Utah seats are R+16 and R+18 it frankly doesn't matter what those factors are.  These 2 seats in Utah are simply out of play and the Dems should focus their resources in other parts.  That's not to say they should abandon them as you never know when you're gonna have a Todd Akin or a dumbass like Jack Ryan who forced his hot wife to have sex in public.  

            This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

            by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:55:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I won't be going to the polls (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Odysseus

    unless it's to transport others, since I have gone to a 100% mail-in ballot choice, but I also live in the Co-1st District and I know who will win.

  •  republicans are anxious that Alex Sink.. (5+ / 0-)

    ..will take Bill Young's seat in Florida's 13th district.

    Real nervous according to David Weigel @ Slate

    A week or so ago Chuck Todd (not a fan -but he's D.C. connected for what that's worth) is calling this race a potential bellwether for Dems.

    Does this call seem correct? I sure hope so

    Thx Steve Singiser

    •  I'm not sure about it predicting anything (0+ / 0-)

      I agree it's a likely pickup, but this is a race where the Dems have a major-league candidate who's been elected statewide and who narrowly missed out on being governor (and would likely send Scott packing this year if Crist hadn't already claimed the honor). It's not a situation that'll be widespread this November.

    •  I'm not sure whether it's a bellwether. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, demreplib33, gabjoh

      This is an open seat where Democrats have an unusually strong candidate with huge name recognition...  These conditions are unlikely to replicate themselves in other races. The one thing it might prove is that Obamacare is not going to matter that much in 2014, or later for that matter.

  •  I'm optimistic about 2014. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MetroGnome, Odysseus

    When Dems won in 2006 it was all about the war.  We papered over differences on domestic and social issues.  Right now, Dems have moved the overton window to the left.  There are fewer blue dogs and the party has put income inequality on the map.  We also have the tea party to run against. Those who run as Dems will be less likely to run away from the party's positions on the economy, health care, abortion or gay rights.  Guns remain a divisive issue to be papered over.  We have a more cohesive party and an electorate that is more leftward friendly after 6 years of Obama.  As time passes and the economy shows continued stability at the macro level we will pick up strength in a lot of districts.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:19:05 PM PST

  •  The Matheson seat in Utah is not a D loss. (0+ / 0-)

    It is just an extension of Republican status quo.  Matheson could not be counted on to support the most basic Democratic planks.

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