While Democrats are touting the special election victory of Rep.-elect Kathy Hochul D-N.Y., as evidence that the Medicare issue can resonate even in heavily GOP districts, they're also engaging in some hyperbole on just how Republican a district the western New York seat is.
Democratic National Committee chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Wednesday that N.Y.-26 is "the 426th worst-district for Democrats in the country. There's only nine districts out of 435 that are worse than this one."
She's presumably looking at 2010 election results, when former Rep. Chris Lee faced nominal Democratic opposition. But just two years before, Lee won election with 55 percent of the vote - and Democrats spent millions in contesting the seat.
A more useful metric to measure the partisanship of House districts is the Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index, and it shows that the district is less Republican than the average Republican-held House seat.
The Cook Partisan Voter Index rates NY-26 at R+6, meaning that during the last two presidential elections, district voters supported the Republican nominee by six more percentage points than the average district in the country. It gave President Obama 46 percent of the vote in 2008.
According to the Cook Political Report, there were 149 districts after the 2008 election that were more Republican with ratings between R+7 and R+29. Twenty-five other districts also share the R+6 value of NY-26.
Interestingly, the only House Republican to hold a seat valued at D+6 or higher is Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), who is likely to face stiff competition next year after the Democratically-controlled state legislature completes the redistricting process.
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