Three wave elections in a row have done plenty to scramble the House landscape. This year, it's unlikely another wave will develop--at least any wave that could overwhelmingly benefit one party. Instead, we're likely to see an anti-Washington backlash, one that could cost a number of members their jobs, even if neither side sees a big net increase.
In The Hotline's first House race rankings of the cycle, we take a look at the districts most likely to change hands in November--from longtime Democratic seats threatened by redistricting to Republican seats the 2010 wave brought in that will prove difficult to hold. Add in the decennial redistricting process, and there's plenty of uncertainty across the map. Taken cumulatively, redistricting gave Republicans more slam-dunk possibilities near the top of our rankings, but the sheer size of the GOP majority gives Democrats a greater number of opportunities across the board.
In our monthly rankings, we consider the candidates' fundraising ability; public and private polling; months of our cumulative reporting and analysis; and, of course, our own gut feelings. An important note: Reapportionment added a handful of brand-new districts to the mix. For simplicity's sake, we classify the new seats' "incumbent party" as Democratic or Republican based on The Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index. Happily, that adds up to the same number of Democratic and Republican seats each party holds in the current Congress.
The districts we expect to be competitive this cycle, ranked in order of most likely to change partisan control today:
1. NC-13 (Open D, Rep. Brad Miller retiring): The Republican state Legislature cut Miller's Democratic base out of this Raleigh-based seat and turned it into a GOP stronghold. Former U.S. Attorney George Holding, the Republican nominee, has personal wealth and a super PAC funded by family and friends backing him; the Democratic nominee dropped out briefly because of health problems. Holding can start measuring drapes--there will be no easier pickup anywhere else in the country.
2. AR-04 (Open D, Rep. Mike Ross retiring): Republican Army veteran Tom Cotton already did the tough part, beating former Mike Huckabee aide (and 2010 nominee) Beth Ann Rankin in the GOP primary. Democratic state Sen. Gene Jeffress is no match for the Club for Growth-backed Cotton, who will turn Arkansas's House delegation all-Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.
3. IL-08 (R, Rep. Joe Walsh): Walsh complained recently that Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and former Veterans Affairs official, uses her service as a way to duck political issues. She would have to address issues more if Walsh didn't keep sticking his foot in his mouth. The seat gave President Obama more than 61 percent of the vote in 2008, and 45 percent of its residents are nonwhite. As one of Walsh's colleagues might say, the cake is baked.
4. MD-06 (R, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett): Over half of the district is new to Bartlett, and it now leans sharply Democratic where it was once safely GOP. Democratic financier John Delaney sunk millions of his own dollars into the primary, and he'll get the opportunity to introduce Bartlett, who has fundraised poorly, to the new sections of the district instead of letting the incumbent do it himself.
5. NC-11 (Open D, Rep. Heath Shuler retiring): Shuler survived the 2010 wave, so Republican state legislators turned his district into the most Republican-leaning seat in the Tar Heel State. Add in the frustrations of being in a minority of the House minority and Shuler decided to call it quits. His former chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, is a heavy underdog no matter which Republican businessman, Mark Meadows or Vance Patterson, wins the GOP primary runoff later this month.
6. NY-24 (R, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle): Ex-Rep. Dan Maffei is running like an incumbent in this 2010 rematch, and with good reason: Redistricting left this seat with a pronounced Democratic lean. Buerkle defeated him in 2010 by harnessing voters' anger about the economy and health care reform, but she hasn't made many attempts to accommodate the district's Democratic-leaning electorate while in Congress.
7. OK-02 (Open D, Rep. Dan Boren retiring): National Democrats like prosecutor Rob Wallace, and the party has held this district for the past decade. But considering how poorly Obama will do atop the ticket in November, it’s simply hard to imagine a Democrat holding this seat without the perks of incumbency to help them.
8. IL-10 (R, Rep. Robert Dold): Of all the Republican-held House seats, this one gave the greatest share of its 2008 presidential vote to Obama. But Democrats failed to capture it from Mark Kirk in several attempts last decade, and they couldn't keep Dold from holding it for the GOP in 2010. Dold's legitimate moderate streak (and a formidable war chest) gives him a glimmer of hope, but Democrats have a strong, moderate nominee in Brad Schneider. Schneider will hammer Dold all autumn for his two votes for the Ryan budget plan. Obama could win the district with 60 percent again, and it would be difficult for Dold to peel off a full sixth of Obama supporters from Schneider.
9. NC-08 (D, Rep. Larry Kissell): Redistricting plopped Kissell in a seat 10 points more Republican than his old district. He's responded by tacking toward his new seat's median voter this year, supporting the repeal of "Obamacare" and voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. But those moves have stirred unrest on Kissell's left flank; not only have influential black groups vowed not to support him, but now a black Democratic mayor is exploring a write-in bid. Kissell endured rough relations with black voters in his first term, too, but he needs them more than ever in the new district.
10. NH-02 (R, Rep. Charlie Bass): Bass barely defeated Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in the Republican wave of 2010, and she's back for a rematch this year with fresh ammunition on Bass's voting record. Bass is running as a moderate and touting his support for a number of budget proposals that cut spending, including the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan. Democrats will key in on two of those votes in particular, though, arguing that Bass’s support for the Ryan budget plan disqualifies him from "moderate" status. That will likely be enough for one of Democrats’ favorite recruits.
11. IN-02 (Open D, Rep. Joe Donnelly running for Senate): Donnelly barely held off Republican nominee Jackie Walorski in 2010. Although there likely won’t be a Republican wave this year, redistricting made the seat a couple of points friendlier for Walorski, and there’s no incumbent in her way now that Donnelly is running for Senate. Veteran Brendan Mullen was a solid recruit for Democrats, but lacking the power of incumbency is a bigger hit to Democrats than the lack of a wave will be to Republicans.
12. RI-01 (D, Rep. David Cicilline): Since Cicilline began his freshman term last year, the debt-burdened city budget of Providence --where Cicilline was mayor--has erupted, and most of the blame fell squarely on Cicilline. Such a deep-blue district, where Obama won with two-thirds of the vote in 2008, should never be in play, but Cicilline’s troubles provide a gaping opening for former State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty.
13. AZ-01 (Open R): Freshman GOP Rep. Paul Gosar abandoned ship after redistricting, choosing to run in the very conservative 4th District instead of facing Democratic ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in this swing seat. The metrics show this district as slightly Republican-leaning, and John McCain took 51 percent of the presidential vote here four years ago. But having a home state hero on the ballot in 2008 inflates the GOP’s numbers in Arizona, and Kirkpatrick has been running hard virtually since she was unseated in 2010.
14. GA-12 (D, Rep. John Barrow): Republican state legislators targeted Barrow via redistricting earlier in his career, and he survived. The latest attempt planted the Blue Dog Democrat in a solidly conservative seat, though, and he’ll have a major challenge on his hands against whoever emerges from a bruising, contested Republican primary. Centrist Democratic groups are already on TV in Savannah praising Barrow’s moderate record, but Republicans will counter in the fall with clips of Barrow claiming to have worked “hand in hand” with Obama during a tough Democratic primary in 2010. That could be enough to unseat Barrow in a district where Obama might struggle to top 40 percent of the vote.
15. CA-07 (R, Rep. Dan Lungren): Lungren has looked less safe each cycle since he returned to the House in 2004, and California’s redistricting consolidated the seat in Sacramento’s fast-growing, diverse suburbs instead of stretching to the Nevada border through conservative rural areas. The district is prototypical of Democratic opportunities in the West, where a lot of longtime Republican territory is threatened by a demographic wave of young and minority voters. Repeat Democratic nominee Ami Bera held Lungren to 50.1 percent of the vote in a five-person field in 2010. This time, Bera will likely repeat his fundraising advantage and have a more favorable environment to exploit that edge, too.
16. IL-17 (R, Rep. Bobby Schilling): Democrat Cheri Bustos is quickly raising cash in a district that, like nearly every other GOP-held seat in Illinois, got more Democratic after redistricting. The swing districts outside Chicago’s orbit aren’t quite as fertile ground for Democrats as the ones closer to the city, but Schilling is competing at a structural disadvantage.
17. IL-11 (R, Rep. Judy Biggert): Biggert is a moderate on social issues, and that helped her appeal across party lines against tough opposition in 2008. But Obama won 54 percent in that seat; he took 61 percent of the vote in the new seat. Obama probably won't do as well this year, but that still makes it tough to figure out the math necessary for Biggert to beat well-funded ex-Rep. Bill Foster.
18. IA-03 (Merged D, Reps. Leonard Boswell, D, and Tom Latham, R): Boswell has a structural advantage in this matchup between two sitting members; he brings 121,000 Obama voters from the Des Moines area from his old district. But even though Latham has to introduce himself to more new voters, he has the money and the help from outside allies to do so, while his Democratic opponent has been reduced to complaining that Speaker John Boehner has pressured PACs into shutting off Boswell’s fundraising. Boswell has a habit of surviving difficult situations, but this is a really tight spot.
19. NY-27 (D, Rep. Kathy Hochul): This is the most Republican district in the state of New York, but Hochul’s political talent keeps it in play. Republican nominee Chris Collins has a few liabilities in his business background, too. Still, fewer and fewer members from either party are thriving in districts that swing so far the other way on the presidential level.
20. FL-18 (R, Rep. Allen West): The firebrand freshman needs no introduction to cable news-viewers, but he has needed to introduce himself to thousands of new constituents after switching to a more conservative seat after redistricting. But this is a moderate swing district through and through: George W. Bush won 50.5 percent here in 2004, while President Obama won 51 percent in 2008. That middle-of-the-road profile suggests West’s rhetoric is a poor fit, but young Democratic businessman Patrick Murphy will still need to convince voters to join him, and West’s campaign stands ready – with millions of dollars – to paint Murphy as too liberal and inexperienced to represent the district.
21. NC-07 (D, Rep. Mike McIntyre): McIntyre got the same treatment in redistricting as his Democratic colleagues Miller, Shuler, and Kissell, and he’ll have to battle much fiercer partisan headwinds than he did when he survived 2010 in his previous district. Republicans got the recruit they wanted in state Sen. David Rouzer. Like Kissell, McIntyre has tacked to the right this year, but there is no evidence (yet) that it is hurting him on the left. Getting enough Mitt Romney supporters to vote for him will be a tough task for McIntyre, though.
22. MA-06 (D, Rep. John Tierney): Along with Cicilline, Tierney is a “safe seat” New England Democrat who finds himself in trouble for personal reasons: His wife and brothers-in-law were involved in an illegal offshore gambling enterprise. Although Tierney has never been implicated in the case, which also bogged him down in the 2010 cycle, the story has completely taken over his reelection effort. Tierney’s 2012 opposition compounds his problems. Openly gay Republican Richard Tisei is an unusually strong, moderate opponent, and he has fundraised exceptionally well thus far. Also, a center-left independent has recently pondered getting into the general election. That could split the anti-Tierney vote, but it might just provide an outlet for Democrats unhappy with the scandal and smooth the road for Tisei even more.
23. IL-12 (Open D, Rep. Jerry Costello retiring): Though the district voted for both John Kerry and Barack Obama for president, Southern Illinois is exactly the type of predominantly white, working-class place where Democrats have had serious trouble recently. Republicans think businessman Jason Plummer can wrestle the seat away for them. Democratic nominee Bill Enyart, who commanded the Illinois National Guard, joined the race just weeks ago after the Democratic primary winner dropped out for health reasons. Enyart seems like a great recruit so far, but he has a lot of money and name identification to make up in a hurry.
24. OH-16 (Merged R, Reps. Jim Renacci, R, and Betty Sutton, D): Renacci brings more old constituents to this battle between incumbents in the Cleveland and Akron suburbs: About 40 percent lived in his old seat, compared to less than 20 percent for Sutton. The seat voted narrowly for John McCain over Obama in 2008, but Democratic polls have shown the race tied for the last few months. Both sides will spend a fortune trying to persuade the undecided voters out there: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and allied outside groups have already reserved nearly $3.5 million in TV advertising, while Republicans have reserved $1 million so far.
25. UT-04 (D, Rep. Jim Matheson): Matheson has long represented deeply Republican territory, and this seat actually got a few points more Democratic in redistricting. But two-thirds of its residents are new to Matheson, too, and persuading them to support him over Republican nominee Mia Love is a taller task than gaining the votes of conservative Utahans who have supported him before. Still, Matheson broke 50 percent in the first nonpartisan poll of the race. Love, a rising Republican star, will have the resources necessary to chip away at that support and have a shot at history. She would be the first black Republican woman to serve in Congress if she wins in November.
26. CA-52 (R, Rep. Brian Bilbray): Bilbray won 57 percent of the vote in 2010 after hovering just above a majority in 2006 and 2008. Redistricting tilted the seat 4 points more Democratic, though, and national Democrats got the nominee they wanted in Scott Peters. Bilbray has already tried to exploit lingering hostility from the de facto Democratic primary to face him and hit Peters for using his wealth to fund his campaign, but Bilbray will have to defend the same entitlement attacks as Republicans throughout the country, and on less certain ground than in his old district.
27. CA-26 (Open R, Rep. Elton Gallegly retiring): Though the seat gave Obama 55 percent of its vote in 2008, Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland got a head start on Democratic nominee Julia Brownley, who joined the race late after the first establishment Democratic pick dropped out suddenly. While Brownley battled through the primary to make sure she advanced to November, Strickland conserved cash and began touting himself as an “independent” voice in mailers. The Republican has a narrower path to victory than Brownley, but he also starts the race a bit further along than she does.
28. CO-06 (R, Rep. Mike Coffman): Conservative immigration hawk Tom Tancredo used to represent the 6th District back when it was a sprawling, reliably Republican seat. Now it’s almost fully contained in Denver’s suburbs, but Coffman has behaved like a man still running in conservative territory, and Democratic state Rep. Joe Miklosi recently capitalized on Coffman’s statement that Obama wasn’t American “in his heart.” Miklosi’s campaign has gained momentum since then, and Coffman needs to adjust to the demands of running in a swing district if he wants to avoid going from rising House star to “former congressman.”
29. NY-19 (R, Rep. Chris Gibson): Before redistricting, Gibson voted in favor of the 2011 Ryan budget. After the new map came out this year and his seat got more Democratic, Gibson switched his vote--but Democrats will hit him for it anyway. The district’s voters supported Obama in 2008 but split their tickets for various statewide offices in 2010, supporting some Democrats and some Republicans. They’ll have to choose between Gibson and Democratic nominee Julian Schreibman.
30. PA-12 (D, Rep. Mark Critz): After dispatching Democratic colleague Jason Altmire in an April primary, Critz will face Altmire’s general-election opponent from 2010, Keith Rothfus. Western Pennsylvania has become dangerous territory for Democrats of late, but Critz pairs populist economics with social conservatism in a way that could appeal to the seat. Both candidates will have outside help: The unions that helped Critz win his primary know that the job isn’t done, and Rothfus is a favorite of the Club for Growth, which endorsed him last cycle too.
31. NV-03 (R, Rep. Joe Heck): Even in the Republican wave of 2010, Heck just barely defeated then-Rep. Dina Titus. Democratic state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera had some embarrassing early stumbles with the media on policy specifics, but Heck didn’t get enough backup in redistricting to feel at ease in his suburban Las Vegas seat.
32. NY-18 (R, Rep. Nan Hayworth): Sean Patrick Maloney brought the greatest possibilities out of the Democratic primary, even if he will have to defend his connections with former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. He’ll try to follow the Democratic playbook and make the race more about entitlements.
33. MN-08 (R, Rep. Chip Cravaack): Cravaack was one of the surprise winners of 2010, and though areas like the Iron Range have grown less friendly to Democrats of late, he should have a tough race no matter who emerges from a long Democratic primary battle.
34. MI-01 (R, Rep. Dan Benishek): A recent poll commissioned by Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC had Benishek at 40 percent, a dangerous starting point for an incumbent. Democratic nominee Gary McDowell, who lost to Benishek in 2010, already has a fundraising lead, too.
35. NH-01 (R, Rep. Frank Guinta): Guinta isn’t the strongest incumbent out there, but neither is ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter the strongest Democratic challenger. Both of New Hampshire’s House races will be rematches from 2010.
36. NY-21 (D, Rep. Bill Owens): Owens has benefitted from a fractured conservative base in both of his congressional campaigns, but Doug Hoffman isn’t running on the Conservative line this time, and Republican Matt Doheny came very close to unseating Owens in 2010. Both candidates have liabilities--Owens on lobbying ethics, Doheny on his investment banking background--that are sure to show up in fall ads.
37. WI-07 (R, Rep. Sean Duffy): This is longtime Democratic territory, but Duffy has recovered after some major early missteps. Still, former state senator and local newscaster Pat Kreitlow has polish that Duffy’s last opponent lacked. This race is taking its time coming together.
38. TX-23 (R, Rep. Quico Canseco): Canseco represents the only true swing district in Texas, and Democrats will choose a nominee to oppose him on July 31. The majority-Hispanic district will be a key testing ground for whether Republicans can continue to compete with that demographic on economic issues despite the party’s rightward lurch on immigration.
39. PA-08 (R, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick): Republican state legislators successfully closed off nearly every possible Democratic pickup opportunity with the Keystone State's new congressional map, but they couldn’t offer Fitzpatrick much protection. This district is one of several that will test whether Democrats can successfully exploit Ryan budget votes even for Republicans who buck their party on other matters.
40. NV-04 (New D): The poll that Republican Danny Tarkanian released showing him ahead contained some leading questions, so its results can't be trusted. But even though the district has a distinct blue hue, Democratic nominee Steven Horsford does have exploitable lobbying and financial issues.
41. CO-03 (R, Rep. Scott Tipton): Democratic state Rep. Sal Pace might be the strongest challenger in Colorado, but the district leans Republican enough to give him an uphill climb. Pace would have to rack up big margins in Pueblo to unseat Tipton, and the Obama campaign’s turnout machine could help him do it.
42. VA-02 (R, Rep. Scott Rigell): Democratic businessman Paul Hirschbiel is channeling his friend Mark Warner’s moderate problem-solving persona, and he’ll bring personal resources to the race. The 2nd District swung back and forth between the parties in 2008 and 2010’s opposing waves, and 2012 is the rubber match.
43. FL-16 (R, Rep. Vern Buchanan): If any of the investigations against Buchanan for laundering campaign contributions through his business come to fruition, he will be in serious electoral trouble. As it is, the investigations are already boosting Democrat Keith Fitzgerald.
44. WA-01 (Open D, ex-Rep. Jay Inslee resigned): This seat leans Democratic, but not enough that any nominee could win it, and establishment figures like Gov. Christine Gregoire and Rep. Rick Larsen endorsed Suzan DelBene partly out of fear that other contenders, like progressive hero Darcy Burner, could cost them the seat, according to some state Democrats.
45. FL-26 (R, Rep. David Rivera): It’s been one scandal after another for Rivera since he joined the House, and it’s left him with little money for the campaign. But Democrats failed spectacularly to get a jump-start on opposing Rivera, after recruit Luis Garcia flamed out in the spring.
46. CT-05 (Open D, Rep. Chris Murphy running for Senate): State House Speaker Chris Donovan, the early Democratic favorite, watched his campaign blow up over a federal investigation after his finance director was arrested and charged with laundering pay-to-play donations. Even though Donovan wasn’t implicated, he could be a drag if he won the primary. His former colleague Elizabeth Esty could take advantage of Donovan’s troubles and emerge from the primary in a safer position instead.
47. NY-11 (R, Rep. Michael Grimm): Grimm has had no trouble raising money, but the FBI is investigating his fundraising practices in 2010, giving Democrat Mark Murphy an opening to recapture a seat his father John once held.
48. WV-03 (D, Rep. Nick Rahall): The 2010 wave couldn’t topple Rahall, but Republicans have a better candidate this time around in Rick Snuffer. Rahall isn’t in trouble yet, but he’s also in a race against time: One of these days, West Virginians are going to start voting Republican in down-ballot races, just as it does in presidential contests.
49. NJ-03 (R, Rep. Jon Runyan): Runyan got safer, but not quite home free, after redistricting. Shelley Adler, the widow of late Rep. John Adler, has an emotional case to make for representing the district, and she's raising enough money to be competitive.
50. WI-08 (R, Rep. Reid Ribble): Although the seat has served as a bellwether district over the last decade, northeastern Wisconsin served as a launchpad for Gov. Scott Walker in the June gubernatorial recall, giving Ribble an extra sense of security heading into his first reelection effort.
51. NY-01 (D, Rep. Tim Bishop): In another rematch from last cycle, Republican nominee Randy Altschuler will try to unseat Bishop. Both candidates will likely work from the same well-worn script that played out last cycle: Bishop will be cast as a rubber-stamp Democrat while redeploying his 2010 attacks on Altschuler as an outsourcer of jobs.
52. FL-09 (New D): The district is so Democratic that former Rep. Alan Grayson is unlikely to run into trouble. But he has given opponents plenty of ammunition over the years, and a Puerto Rican Republican nominee could potentially mine that sizable, usually Democratic population for votes in November.
53. IL-13 (R, Rep. Tim Johnson): Republican nominee Rodney Davis has never appeared on the district’s ballot; GOP county chairs chose him to replace Johnson after the incumbent declined to run in the general after winning the primary. But Democratic nominee David Gill might have appeared before voters too many times. He lost to Johnson three times in the last decade, and a more Democratic district might not be enough to boost him over Davis this year.
54. AZ-09 (New D): Arizona’s new seat leans Democratic, but it might not be Democratic enough to give a smooth ride to former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has a portfolio of unflattering statements in her past. But she has a base of support and anything can happen in a three-way primary, which also includes former state party chair Andrei Cherney and state Sen. David Schapira.
55. KY-06 (D, Rep. Ben Chandler): Republican polling shows that Chandler is less than secure after a scare in 2010. But repeat GOP challenger Andy Barr would have to outperform last cycle’s wave in a less favorable district to unseat the Democratic incumbent.
56. FL-02 (R, Rep. Steve Southerland): Democrats have a challenger, Leonard Bembry, in the mold of longtime Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd to take on Southerland in the Panhandle. But Bembry has to get past a more liberal, African-American primary challenger in Al Lawson first, and a Lawson primary challenge helped weaken Boyd for Southerland in 2010.
57. IN-08 (R, Rep. Larry Bucshon): Bucshon isn’t a particularly strong candidate or fundraiser, and a tea party primary challenger threatened to exploit his weaknesses in the primary. The Obama campaign won’t be as present to boost Democratic turnout as it was four years ago, and that’s a problem for Democrat Dave Crooks.
58. CA-10 (R, Rep. Jeff Denham): Democratic performance here increased dramatically in 2008 thanks to Hispanic turnout, and Democrats hope former astronaut Jose Hernandez can spur more gains. He has a lot of ground to make up on Denham, though.
59. CA-09 (D, Rep. Jerry McNerney): McNerney has a lot of new territory to cover, but he’s used to toughing out swing-seat races. Republican Ricky Gill, who is 25 years old, is already outraising the incumbent and painting McNerney as an outsider to the new district.
60. IA-04 (R, Rep. Steve King): King has shown little willingness to adjust to life in a swing seat, and continued inflammatory comments might damage him in the end against former state first lady Christie Vilsack. But he and his allies, including the Club for Growth, have made sure he has the resources to make his case: King raised over $850,000 in the most recent quarter.
61. MI-11 (Open R, ex-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter resigned): McCotter’s bizarre exit from Washington left Republicans in disarray and opened the door slightly for Democrat Syed Taj, if he can get through his primary. The establishment Republican of choice has to run a write-in primary campaign after McCotter’s exit left only a tea party outsider on the August ballot.
62. FL-22 (New D): After redistricting, the seat leans so Democratic that Allen West was compelled to run in a new district. But likely Democratic nominee Lois Frankel has had a rocky political career, and Republican Adam Hasner could give her trouble unless the rightward lurch he took during an aborted Senate run comes back to haunt him.
63. CA-24 (D, Rep. Lois Capps): Capps’s new seat stretches farther inland and takes in many more Republicans than her old coastal-hugging district. Republican Abel Maldonado will have to overcome a big tax problem with his family’s business to take advantage.
64. AZ-02 (D, Rep. Ron Barber): The new 2nd District is more Democratic than the old seat Barber just won in a special election. Martha McSally will be a stronger GOP nominee than Jesse Kelly was, but it’s hard to imagine voters rejecting Barber so immediately after hiring him.
65. CA-03 (D, Rep. John Garamendi): Almost three-fourths of the district is new to him, but Garamendi’s 52 percent showing in the June all-party primary was a good sign. In previous years with that system, Democrats almost always improved on their primary percentages in November.
66. OH-06 (R, Rep. Bill Johnson): Redistricting gave Johnson an extra few points worth of protection against former Rep. Charlie Wilson’s comeback bid.
67. CA-36 (R, Rep. Mary Bono Mack): Bono Mack’s diverse inland seat has long captured Democratic imaginations, and she only got 52 percent of the vote in 2010. This year, she’ll have to battle presidential-year Hispanic turnout marshaled by Democrat Raul Ruiz, but the seat got slightly more Republican.
68. PA-06 (R, Rep. Jim Gerlach): Gerlach is another longtime Democratic target seemingly racing against time and the expansion of the Philadelphia suburbs. Democrat Manan Trivedi tried to fight an impossible tide last cycle, but Gerlach got help from redistricting even if he won’t get help from a wave this year.
69. NY-22 (R, Rep. Richard Hanna): Campaigning is off to a slow start in the new 22nd District. The first major development could be an independent general election bid by Hanna’s tea party primary opponent.
70. IA-02 (D, Rep. Dave Loebsack): There are early signs that the political winds in Iowa might more closely resemble 2010 than 2008. Loebsack can still take heart in having survived a tougher climate last cycle, though.
71. IA-01 (D, Rep. Bruce Braley): Ditto.
72. CA-47 (D new): Republicans like Gary DeLong, but presidential year turnout in Long Beach makes victory a tricky proposition, though he has a better opportunity than if the seat were filled by an incumbent Democrat.
73. CA-41 (D, new): This Riverside-based district brings together a big minority population that was previously divided between Republican-held seats, and that should help seal things for Democrat Mark Takano, running with Obama's name above his on the ballot.
74. FL-10 (R, Rep. Dan Webster): Redistricting cut the bulk of a fast-growing, Democratic-leaning Puerto Rican population around Orlando out of Webster’s district. The population is still changing fast enough that former Sheriff Val Demings has an outside shot, but the math is exceedingly difficult for her.
75. NY-25 (D, Rep. Louise Slaughter): Maggie Brooks is as good a candidate as Republicans could hope for, but the current Congress has just one Republican member from a district as Democratic as Slaughter's.