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Hotline's Latest Edition

House Race Rankings

The Hotline Assesses Which House Seats Are Most Likely To Switch Party Control This Year.

October 19, 2010

It's all about cash in this week's House race rankings.

First, national Democrats made very difficult decisions last week and cut off several incumbents who appeared to be lost causes. Those Democrats found their way to the top of our list.

In addition, the end of the third quarter -- the last true fundraising benchmark of the cycle -- has crystallized the playing field, bringing new contests into focus and dropping others from the top of our list.

Here are this week's top races, presented in order of a seat's likelihood of changing hands:

1. Tennessee-06 Open Seat (D) (Last Ranking: 1)
2. New York-29 Special Election (D) (2)
Move along, nothing to see here.
3. Louisiana-03 Open Seat (D) (3)
Democratic polling may show Senate nominee and native son Charlie Melancon closing the gap in his race, but that won't push attorney Ravi Sangisetty (D) over the finish line down the ballot.
4. Arkansas-02 Open Seat (D) (4)
Bill Clinton returned once again last week to rally voters for underdog state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D), but she's not likely to be another comeback kid.
5. Delaware-At Large Open Seat (R) (5)
Developer Glen Urquhart (R) is performing a bit better in his race than GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell is in hers, but it's still not enough to pull off the upset.
6. Louisiana-02 Anh (Joseph) Cao (R) (6)
Cao was endorsed by one of Dem nominee Cedric Richmond's primary challengers last week, but that seems unlikely to balance out Richmond's support from President Obama.
7. Indiana-08 Open Seat (D) (12)
All of the polls have shown heart surgeon Larry Bucshon (R) with a big lead, so it's no surprise that the DCCC cut funding to state Rep. Trent Van Haaften.
8. Tennessee-08 Open Seat (D) (25)
When the DCCC cut off state Sen. Roy Herron, he said his cash was yanked because of his promise to vote against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Of course it had nothing to do with polls consistently showing him trailing by double digits.
9. Ohio-01 Steve Driehaus (D) (13)
Driehaus blasted national Democrats for calling it quits here and wondered why they weren't funding incumbents who took tough votes, like he did on health care. This is the last thing Democrats need to be dealing with now.
10. Kansas-03 Open Seat (D) (10)
Stephene Moore (D) has just $87,000 left in the bank for the campaign's final weeks, and the DCCC has already said it won't provide any additional air support. It's over.
11. Pennsylvania-03 Kathy Dahlkemper (D) (16)
Car dealer Mike Kelly (R) finally kicked his fundraising into gear, but this race was always about Dahlkemper, and she never could get it together. With so many other vulnerable seats to defend, it made perfect sense for the DCCC to abandon its efforts here.
12. Florida-24 Suzanne Kosmas (D) (9)
Kosmas released a poll three weeks ago that showed her leading state Rep. Sandy Adams (R). But it still wasn't enough to convince the DCCC to stick around.
13. Wisconsin-08 Steve Kagen (D) (19)
Democrats were likely looking at data similar to Republican surveys that showed a big lead for businessman Reid Ribble (R) when they decided to pull funding here.
14. Colorado-04 Betsy Markey (D) (8)
Markey spent $2 million in the third quarter and still didn't move the needle against state Rep. Cory Gardner (R). Facing a 4-1 cash deficit, she now faces a barrage of ads in the final weeks that will be nearly impossible to withstand.
15. Texas-17 Chet Edwards (D) (7)
Businessman Bill Flores (R) spent more time on defense last week, explaining a statement on Social Security and a past business bankruptcy, but he still seems to be in good shape.
16. Ohio-15 Mary Jo Kilroy (D) (14)
Kilroy spent $1.3 million during the third quarter to try and claw back into contention, but she still badly trails 2008 nominee Steve Stivers. Now she enters the final weeks of the campaign facing a 7-1 cash deficit.
17. Illinois-11 Debbie Halvorson (D) (11)
Halvorson's campaign trumpeted a Democratic poll showing her trailing Republican Adam Kinzinger by just 4 points. But an incumbent sitting at 41 percent is no cause for celebration.
18. New Hampshire-01 Carol Shea-Porter (D) (15)
Former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta (R) continues to be dogged by questions surrounding the origins of a newfound bank account, but with recent polls showing Shea-Porter down 10-plus points, it's going to be tough for her to climb back into contention.
19. Florida-08 Alan Grayson (D) (17)
Grayson has an $800,000 cash advantage over former state Sen. Dan Webster (R). If cash could solve all of Grayson's problems, though, he'd be the safest Democrat in the House.
20. Florida-02 Allen Boyd (D) (18)
Funeral homes owner Steve Southerland (R) is the least-known Republican challenger this cycle with a great chance of winning.
21. Illinois-10 Open Seat (R) (24)
Businessman Bob Dold (R) had a huge fundraising quarter and enjoys a cash edge over Democrat Dan Seals (D). But he's got to translate that into poll movement, which has yet to happen.
22. Mississippi-01 Travis Childers (D) (20)
State Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) outraised Childers by $200,000 in the third quarter. Is that a sign that contributors are betting on a GOP win?
23. New Mexico-02 Harry Teague (D) (30)
The polls and cash all appear to be in former Rep. Steve Pearce's favor, and the Republican has put Teague on the defensive with TV ads hitting his family business. This one seems to be slipping away from Democrats.
24. Wisconsin-07 Open Seat (D) (22)
Democrats thought they had the goods to take out "TV celebrity" Sean Duffy (R), but polls suggest he still holds a comfortable lead.
25. Pennsylvania-11 Paul Kanjorski (D) (21)
Kanjorski's team continues to bash polling that shows Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R) with the lead, but it's wearing thin.
26. Virginia-02 Glenn Nye (D) (23)
Car dealer Scott Rigell (R) has consistently held comfortable leads in the polls, and it's hard to see how Nye recovers.
27. Virginia-05 Tom Perriello (D) (26)
Few expected Perriello to be hanging around this late in the cycle, but he is. It's still hard to see how he survives, but plenty of outside groups are helping to prop him up.
28. Arizona-01 Ann Kirkpatrick (D) (27)
Poll-wise, Kirkpatrick's in pretty much the same shape as Kosmas, as her own polling shows her with a small lead and hanging in the mid-40s. Will she meet the same fate as Kosmas with the DCCC?
29. Michigan-01 Open Seat (D) (28)
Physician Dan Benishek (R) has the bigger war chest in the campaign's final weeks, and he's got a nominal lead in polling.
30. North Dakota-At Large Earl Pomeroy (D) (29)
Republicans say Pomeroy's a goner, while Dems say the race is a toss-up. Average that out, and it's a thumb on the scale for state Rep. Rick Berg (R).
31. Maryland-01 Frank Kratovil (D) (31)
At the beginning of the cycle, Kratovil was high on the list of one-term Dems. But the DCCC dumped $354,000 here last week -- the most it spent anywhere -- and believes he still has a shot.
32. Pennsylvania-10 Christopher Carney (D) (46)
Shockingly, yet another independent poll shows former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino (R) with the lead. Carney's camp countered with its own polling showing the Democrat ahead, but it's getting hard to dismiss the polls showing Marino out front as outliers.
33. Tennessee-04 Lincoln Davis (D) (--)
Republican polling gives physician Scott DesJarlais (R) a 5-point lead over Davis. Surprisingly, that's even after Davis launched a hard-hitting TV ad focusing on some ugly accusations in his opponent's divorce dispute.
34. Ohio-06 Charlie Wilson (D) (47)
Speaking of ugly divorce records, Wilson will likely be forced to answer questions related to accusations from his own 1990 divorce. With Wilson already trailing in GOP polling, that may be enough to make him the underdog.
35. Nevada-03 Dina Titus (D) (38)
Titus has tried to tie former state Sen. Joe Heck (R) to GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle, but with Angle appearing to pull ahead in many polls, that may not be as problematic for Heck as previously thought.
36. New York-19 John Hall (D) (41)
Hall hasn't led ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth (R) in any recent poll and has yet to pull more than 43 percent. It's hard to see how he recovers.
37. Colorado-03 John Salazar (D) (33)
It's bad enough that Salazar has had to run away from national Democrats, but last week he was forced to acknowledge that his brother, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is also a potential liability. Things seem to be piling up against the Democrat.
38. Washington-03 Open Seat (D) (34)
Former state Rep. Denny Heck (D) has enough personal cash to make this a race, but state Rep. Jaime Herrera (R) leads in all the recent polls.
39. Ohio-18 Zack Space (D) (35)
Space has a $1 million cash advantage and an anti-trade message with which to defend his seat in this blue-collar district. But will he withstand what's expected to be a barrage of attacks from outside GOP groups?
40. Arizona-05 Harry Mitchell (D) (36)
Even GOP polling suggests Mitchell has experienced a bit of a bump recently. Will his momentum continue?
41. New Jersey-03 John Adler (D) (53)
Most of the region's newspapers have called for an investigation into Adler's reported role in landing a tea partier a spot on the ballot. That bad press should hurt Adler's already tenuous position.
42. New York-24 Michael Arcuri (D) (43)
GOPers hinted last week that businessman Richard Hanna (R) had begun to pick up steam; that was confirmed later on when Hanna released a poll showing him leading Arcuri 46-43 percent.
43. Illinois-17 Phil Hare (D) (50)
Restaurateur Bobby Schilling (R) appears to have the momentum here, as he outraised Hare and ended the quarter with more cash.
44. Michigan-07 Mark Schauer (D) (37)
If Schauer manages to hang on, it will be his huge cash advantage -- as well as outside union TV ads -- that will have buried former Rep. Tim Walberg (R).
45. Pennsylvania-07 Open Seat (D) (32)
Almost every new poll shows former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan (R) holding a very small lead. This is a toss-up race, but put a feather on the scale for Meehan.
46. Pennsylvania-08 Patrick Murphy (D) (40)
Former Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) leads in independent polling, but Murphy has a 2-1 cash advantage in the campaign's final weeks, and outside groups have begun to move in and help the Democrat. This one's not over yet.
47. Georgia-08 Jim Marshall (D) (42)
If Marshall isn't able to pull out a victory, no one will say it's because he aligned himself too closely with Pelosi -- he's doing everything he can to distance himself from her.
48. Alabama-02 Bobby Bright (D) (44)
It's hard to see this race as anything but a toss-up; the DCCC has already poured in nearly $900,000.
49. Connecticut-04 Jim Himes (D) (48)
The polls are showing signs of life for state Sen. Dan Debicella (R), and he raised an impressive $800,000 in the last quarter. A new TV ad featuring an endorsement by moderate former Rep. Christopher Shays (R) should also help him.
50. South Carolina-05 John Spratt (D) (45)
This race feels like a dead-even matchup. Spratt holds twice as much cash as state Sen. Mick Mulvaney (R), but outside GOP-leaning groups have doubled up the DCCC's spending. This one should go down to the wire.
51. Ohio-16 John Boccieri (D) (52)
Boccieri and businessman Jim Renacci (R) are in a tight race, but it's hard to see how Boccieri survives if the top of the Ohio Democratic ticket fails as spectacularly as it appears it will.
52. New York-23 Bill Owens (D) (39)
A new independent poll showing Owens with a comfortable lead should temper GOP enthusiasm for an easy pickup here, but the seat is still very much in jeopardy.
53. California-11 Jerry McNerney (D) (--)
McNerney's camp released a poll showing the Democrat holding a 10-point lead over attorney David Harmer (R), but media surveys suggest Harmer holds the edge.
54. Arkansas-01 Open Seat (D) (54)
Broadcaster Rick Crawford (R) has taken a ton of flak for his comments on Social Security, yet polls still show him ahead. This is a toss-up, but Crawford probably holds a slight advantage.
55. Arizona-08 Gabrielle Giffords (D) (51)
It's no wonder the DCCC pulled cash out of the district: Giffords holds a 12-to-1 cash advantage in the campaign's closing weeks. But don't count out Iraq vet Jesse Kelly (R) just yet.
56. West Virginia-01 Open Seat (D) (55)
Republicans feel very good about their chances in picking up this seat, at least as long as the Senate race remains within striking distance.
57. Indiana-09 Baron Hill (D) (--)
This race has been under the radar for a while, but attorney Todd Young (R) had an impressive third quarter, bringing in over $750,000 and outraising Hill.
58. New York-20 Scott Murphy (D) (--)
Democratic polling shows Murphy with a comfortable lead, but the DCCC's October expenditures suggest Democrats aren't exactly confident of holding the seat.
59. South Dakota-At Large Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) (58)
Some have counted state Rep. Kristi Noem (R) out, but her huge fundraising in the last quarter -- she outraised Herseth Sandlin by $550,000 -- means she'll have the cash to stay in the game.
60. Hawaii-01 Charles Djou (R) (59)
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D) raised more than Djou in the pre-primary period, while Djou bested the Democrat in post-primary fundraising. Just like the cash, the polls are also likely to fluctuate between the two candidates before this one is over.
61. Indiana-02 Joe Donnelly (D) (--)
62. Kentucky-06 Ben Chandler (D) (--)
63. New Hampshire-02 Open Seat (D) (49)
64. New Mexico-01 Martin Heinrich (D) (--)
65. Mississippi-04 Gene Taylor (D) (--)
66. Texas-23 Ciro Rodriguez (D) (--)
67. Georgia-02 Sanford Bishop (D) (57)
68. Colorado-07 Ed Perlmutter (D) (--)
69. North Carolina-08 Larry Kissell (D) (--)
70. Massachusetts-10 Open Seat (D) (60)
71. California-03 Dan Lungren (R) (--)
72. California-47 Loretta Sanchez (D) (56)
73. California-20 Jim Costa (D) (--)
74. Florida-25 Open Seat (R) (--)
75. New York-22 Maurice Hinchey (D) (--)
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