The Hotline‘s House Race Rankings: The House Seats Most Likely to Flip

113th Congress Swearing-in; Rep. John Boehner chosen Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi picked as Minority Leader of the House
©2013 Richard A. Bloom
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
Jan. 6, 2014, midnight

Ten months from Elec­tion Day, un­cer­tainty is the watch­word in the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. Demo­crats look very un­likely to pick up the 17 seats they would need to re­take the House ma­jor­ity, and they could lose seats, with the gen­er­ic-bal­lot av­er­age set­tling in­to a slim Re­pub­lic­an ad­vant­age after a tu­mul­tu­ous fall. But the speed of earli­er move­ment against both parties shows why it would be fool­ish to as­sume what’s true today will be true in 10 months.

A race-by-race look at the House land­scape also helps ex­plain why things are un­settled. As far as we see it, there is only one slam-dunk pickup that either side can more or less count on right now. The GOP’s gen­er­ic-bal­lot ad­vant­age and a large class of Demo­crat­ic fresh­men in battle­ground dis­tricts (the party picked up eight seats in 2012) has giv­en Re­pub­lic­ans a great­er num­ber of tar­gets in top races. But re­cent GOP re­tire­ments in some blue-tinged dis­tricts have them es­pe­cially wor­ried — and Demo­crats lick­ing their chops — about con­trol in cer­tain re­gions (though one re­tire­ment, by con­tro­ver­sial Min­nesota Re­pub­lic­an Michele Bach­mann, ac­tu­ally took her seat out of the battle­ground column and back to safe GOP ter­rit­ory). Strategists in both parties, mean­while, worry that they don’t have can­did­ates cap­able of grabbing some of the tough­er dis­tricts on the table.

Most in­ter­est­ing of all, Demo­crats have few pickup op­por­tun­it­ies in the North­east, their strongest area, while Re­pub­lic­ans will tar­get few dis­tricts in the South. That’s be­cause they’ve already won most of them, a long-term trend re­in­forced by “dual waves” in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try in 2012. Demo­crats hold every seat in New Eng­land right now, and the GOP Con­fer­ence is more South­ern — and the South more Re­pub­lic­an — than ever in the his­tory of the Re­pub­lic­an Party.

These rank­ings place dis­tricts in or­der start­ing with the most likely to switch par­tis­an con­trol. Thus, some hotly con­tested races — like Rep. Mike Honda’s chal­lenge from a fel­low Cali­for­nia Demo­crat and Rep. Mike Simpson’s chal­lenge from a fel­low Idaho Re­pub­lic­an — are not on this list. This be­ing an early look, we are only go­ing 30 races deep, but there are one or two dozen more that could def­in­itely be com­pet­it­ive in Novem­ber. We ex­amined a mul­ti­tude of factors to choose and place battle­ground dis­tricts on this list: pub­lic and private polling, can­did­ates’ fun­drais­ing abil­ity, ad­vert­ising pat­terns and out­side group in­volve­ment, loc­al me­dia cov­er­age, and months of cu­mu­lat­ive re­port­ing and ana­lys­is.

Without fur­ther ado, let’s be­gin with the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict most likely to flip from one party to the oth­er this Novem­ber:

1. Utah-04 — Rep. Jim Math­eson (D) is re­tir­ing
Noth­ing is cer­tain in polit­ics, but Math­eson’s re­tire­ment ba­sic­ally cedes the seat to Re­pub­lic­ans. Without his brand name, it’s very dif­fi­cult to ima­gine a Demo­crat over­com­ing the party’s poor per­form­ance levels in this state and dis­trict. (Pres­id­ent Obama just cleared 30 per­cent here in 2012, mak­ing it his 25th-worst dis­trict in the coun­try.) Re­peat GOP can­did­ate Mia Love, who would be the first Afric­an-Amer­ic­an Re­pub­lic­an wo­man in Con­gress if she won, is now the biggest early fa­vor­ite to be­come a House fresh­man in 2015, though Math­eson’s de­cision could spur some more GOP in­terest in the seat.

2. Cali­for­nia-31 — Rep. Gary Miller (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Miller is only in Con­gress right now thanks to a series of post-re­dis­trict­ing flukes, the biggest of which was a split Demo­crat­ic vote al­low­ing an­oth­er Re­pub­lic­an to sneak through Cali­for­nia’s top-two primary along­side Miller last cycle. The party isn’t uni­fied — the DCCC is back­ing Pete Aguilar, EMILY’s List is be­hind Eloise Gomez Reyes, and former Rep. Joe Baca still has some sup­port — but it’s very hard to en­vi­sion an­oth­er re­peat fail­ure here, giv­en the San Bern­ardino dis­trict’s lib­er­al lean (57 per­cent sup­port for Obama in 2012).

3. Flor­ida-13 — Va­cant: Rep. Bill Young (R) died in Oc­to­ber
Young kept this dis­trict safely Re­pub­lic­an even as the polit­ic­al ter­rain shif­ted un­der­neath him over 40-plus years, to the point where Pres­id­ent Obama car­ried it twice. Without Young to de­fend the seat, it is a prime Demo­crat­ic pickup op­por­tun­ity in a March spe­cial elec­tion and in Novem­ber there­after. Demo­crats’ last gubernat­ori­al nom­in­ee, Alex Sink, moved in­to the dis­trict she car­ried in 2010, cleared the field, and just re­por­ted rais­ing over $1 mil­lion in two months. Mean­while, Re­pub­lic­ans Dav­id Jolly and Kath­leen Peters are fight­ing an in­creas­ingly nasty primary, and party mem­bers worry about the dis­trict, des­pite the op­por­tun­ity to test-drive new Obama­care at­tacks in the spe­cial elec­tion.

4. Iowa-03 — Rep. Tom Lath­am (R) is re­tir­ing
Stop us if you’ve heard this song be­fore, but without Lath­am — a strong cam­paign­er, from his loc­al repu­ta­tion to his fun­drais­ing abil­ity — it will be much, much harder for Re­pub­lic­ans to hold this Des Moines-based seat in 2014. Obama car­ried it in 2012, and Demo­crat­ic state Sen. Staci Ap­pel is go­ing to have a big head start on who­ever jumps in. But on the flip side, there may be ad­di­tion­al Demo­crat­ic in­terest here now that Lath­am is out of the way. Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate can­did­ate Dav­id Young, who has a preex­ist­ing fed­er­al cam­paign already go­ing, just jumped at the chance to run here in­stead, and about a dozen Re­pub­lic­ans in all have ex­pressed in­terest in the seat.

5. New Jer­sey-03 — Rep. Jon Run­yan (R) is re­tir­ing
Re­pub­lic­ans have held this seat for most of the past few dec­ades des­pite a Demo­crat­ic lean in pres­id­en­tial polit­ics, and Run­yan won reelec­tion eas­ily in 2012 even as Pres­id­ent Obama car­ried the South Jer­sey dis­trict. But the GOP doesn’t have an in­cum­bent on the bal­lot to pro­tect the seat this year, giv­ing Demo­crats a golden op­por­tun­ity to try and re­align the dis­trict. The DCCC is already lined up be­hind loc­al of­fice­hold­er Aimee Bel­gard, while a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­ans are talk­ing to the dis­trict’s power­ful county party chairs about mak­ing their own bids. The GOP’s con­tro­ver­sial nom­in­ee in last year’s Sen­ate spe­cial elec­tion against Cory Book­er, Steve Loneg­an, has said he’ll run in the dis­trict, though he is not from there. That Re­pub­lic­an primary will be one of sev­er­al that elect­ab­il­ity-minded party mem­bers worry about this year.

6. Vir­gin­ia-10 — Rep. Frank Wolf (R) is re­tir­ing
Like his long­time col­league Bill Young, Wolf kept his seat per­fectly safe des­pite big changes in loc­al polit­ic­al lean­ings dur­ing his ca­reer. Now that Wolf is re­tir­ing, Demo­crats have a real op­por­tun­ity to take ad­vant­age of those changes, which made the 10th Dis­trict one of the closest in the 2012 pres­id­en­tial race. The GOP has a deep bench of po­ten­tial can­did­ates in the sub­urbs out­side D.C., but some strategists are con­cerned the party will choose to nom­in­ate its stand­ard bear­er via a con­ven­tion in­stead of a primary, height­en­ing the chances of get­ting an un­elect­able nom­in­ee. We’re de­fy­ing oth­er pro­gnost­ic­at­ors here a bit, and this open seat is more Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing than the oth­ers. But open seats are by their nature more volat­ile than races with in­cum­bents, and this dis­trict is too closely di­vided to bump down the list. The oth­er open seats (like Montana’s at-large dis­trict) lean much fur­ther to­ward one party or the oth­er, mean­ing we will need more time to as­sess their com­pet­it­ive­ness.

7. Ari­zona-02 — Rep. Ron Barber (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Barber al­most lost in 2012 un­der un­usu­al cir­cum­stances. Spe­cial-elec­tion vic­tors rarely lose a reg­u­lar elec­tion just months later, but Barber trailed Re­pub­lic­an Martha Mc­Sally on Novem­ber’s elec­tion night be­fore ek­ing out a slim vic­tory thanks to a big edge in pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots and early votes. Now Mc­Sally — who has a great story to tell as the na­tion’s first fe­male com­bat pi­lot — is off and run­ning again, and though she has to clear a primary, Barber has his work cut out pro­tect­ing a seat Re­pub­lic­ans have car­ried in three straight pres­id­en­tial con­tests.

8. North Car­o­lina-07 — Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Just 654 votes sep­ar­ated McIntyre and state Sen. Dav­id Rouzer in 2012, the closest mar­gin of any House race in the na­tion. Rouzer is back for an­oth­er bid in this very con­ser­vat­ive dis­trict, and it’s a bit early to tell what kind of comeback he’s put­ting to­geth­er. Neither can­did­ate’s fun­drais­ing has blown any­one away, though Rouzer has put to­geth­er a more well-or­gan­ized cam­paign more quickly this time around.

9. West Vir­gin­ia-03 — Rep. Nick Ra­hall (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Ra­hall has out­run the polit­ic­al change in West Vir­gin­ia so far, but Obama’s dire ap­prov­al rat­ings here are dan­ger­ous for the vet­er­an in­cum­bent. Re­pub­lic­an groups are already pour­ing money in­to the seat: This dis­trict saw the most TV spend­ing of any 2014 House race in the off-year, in­clud­ing an ad from Demo­crats’ House Ma­jor­ity PAC seek­ing to off­set the tide of con­ser­vat­ive out­side money. Mean­while, Re­pub­lic­ans have a can­did­ate who per­son­i­fies what’s been go­ing on in West Vir­gin­ia: State Sen. Evan Jen­kins was a Demo­crat un­til Ju­ly, when he switched parties and an­nounced his can­did­acy.

10. Ari­zona-01 — Rep. Ann Kirk­patrick (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
This massive East­ern Ari­zona dis­trict skews con­ser­vat­ive, but Kirk­patrick proved a good fit for it last cycle, even though her staunch sup­port for Obama­care puts her at odds with many res­id­ents. Now, three Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing state House Speak­er Andy To­bin, are vy­ing to win it back. They are already trad­ing ac­cus­a­tions about in­suf­fi­cient con­ser­vat­ism, which will bear watch­ing up to Ari­zona’s late primary. One more thing to keep an eye out for throughout Ari­zona and here es­pe­cially: Kirk­patrick won her second non-con­sec­ut­ive term with less than 50 per­cent of the vote as a liber­tari­an can­did­ate car­ried thou­sands of third-party votes. The GOP-con­trolled state le­gis­lature passed a law this year mak­ing bal­lot ac­cess for third-party can­did­ates more dif­fi­cult to pre­vent such scen­ari­os, but it isn’t in ef­fect yet pending a pop­u­lar ref­er­en­dum. Third-party can­did­ates could again play a role in the out­come here.

11. Cali­for­nia-52 — Rep. Scott Peters (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
No ser­i­ous Re­pub­lic­an con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate has drawn more at­ten­tion for break­ing the mold: Former San Diego City Coun­cilor Carl De­Maio, who is openly gay, has also openly called for his party to deem­phas­ize so­cial is­sues and fo­cus on pock­et­book mat­ters. Demo­crats suc­cess­fully tagged De­Maio as over-con­ser­vat­ive in his los­ing 2012 may­or­al race, but both he and Peters have cros­sov­er ap­peal. A neat map from KPBS shows about two-thirds of Peters pre­cincts also go­ing for De­Maio where their races over­lapped in 2012.

12. New Hamp­shire-01 — Rep. Car­ol Shea-Port­er (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
This seat has switched parties three times in four elec­tions, mov­ing with the volat­ile na­tion­al mood over that time. That’s what gives Re­pub­lic­ans their best chance to re­take a seat in New Eng­land, where Shea-Port­er and Demo­crats shut them out in 2012. Former Rep. Frank Guinta is run­ning again and starts with a big name-ID edge for the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion, but re­cent polling sug­gests he’s still bruised from the last elec­tion, which could be a li­ab­il­ity. Dis­trict voters gave Shea-Port­er much stronger marks in the same sur­vey.

13. Col­or­ado-06 — Rep. Mike Coff­man (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Coff­man took over from ex-Rep. Tom Tan­credo when he joined Con­gress, but Coff­man has had to ex­ecute something of a polit­ic­al re­in­ven­tion on is­sues like im­mig­ra­tion since his dis­trict was re­drawn in­to a swing seat last cycle, when he barely won reelec­tion. Demo­crat An­drew Ro­man­off, the former state House speak­er, has been run­ning against Coff­man for nearly 12 months already, though he may re­gret not chas­ing the seat in a pres­id­en­tial year. (Obama car­ried this dis­trict in 2012.) Giv­en the dis­trict dy­nam­ics, Coff­man and Ro­man­off’s gang­busters fun­drais­ing pace (over $1.5 mil­lion each after the first three quar­ters of last year), the size of the Den­ver me­dia mar­ket, and the high-pro­file statewide races also on tap for the fall of 2014, this is a sol­id early bet to be the na­tion’s most ex­pens­ive House race this year.

14. Cali­for­nia-07 — Rep. Ami Be­ra (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Re­dis­trict­ing and the march of demo­graph­ic change out­side Sac­ra­mento helped Be­ra cap­ture the seat in 2012, but three Re­pub­lic­ans are link­ing him to the pres­id­ent’s health care law and ar­guing he’s part of D.C.’s prob­lems in try­ing to re­place him. The GOP battle for the second gen­er­al-elec­tion spot could get nasty, if his­tory is any guide: Former Rep. Doug Ose’s last race was a Re­pub­lic­an primary brawl against fel­low can­did­ate Ig­or Birman’s old boss, Rep. Tom Mc­Clin­tock.

15. Flor­ida-26 — Rep. Joe Gar­cia (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Gar­cia is rais­ing money hand-over-foot, but he’s been dogged by a weird scan­dal (staffers of his plot­ted to fraud­u­lently cast ab­sent­ee bal­lots, ap­par­ently without the can­did­ate’s know­ledge). Re­pub­lic­an Car­los Cur­belo could be a strong chal­lenger. One un­der­re­por­ted fact about this dis­trict: Gar­cia’s 2012 vic­tory is at­trib­uted to then-Rep. Dav­id Rivera’s com­plete cam­paign melt­down amidst scan­dal but Obama’s mar­gin over Mitt Rom­ney in the dis­trict was al­most ex­actly the same as Gar­cia’s over Rivera. Cuban-heavy Miami is ex­per­i­en­cing something of a Demo­crat­ic shift in na­tion­al polit­ics. GOP Gov. Rick Scott’s ap­prov­al could also be a prob­lem for Re­pub­lic­ans in the Sun­shine State in Novem­ber.

16. Illinois-13 — Rep. Rod­ney Dav­is (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Dav­is has a March primary chal­lenge, but that’s not the obstacle here: He won one of the na­tion’s tight­est races — the closest one Demo­crats lost in 2012 — against a per­en­ni­al can­did­ate, and Demo­crats have got­ten be­hind former judge Ann Cal­lis for a po­ten­tially stronger bid this time. Cal­lis’s long ju­di­cial ten­ure has left be­hind a re­cord that the GOP is already pick­ing away at, though.

17. Flor­ida-02 — Rep. Steve South­er­land (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Demo­crats had an­oth­er near-miss in the Flor­ida Pan­handle in 2012, though the path to vic­tory here slopes steeply up­ward to­ward the end, Heart­break Hill-style. As Stu Rothen­berg has poin­ted out, the last couple of per­cent­age points are a very dif­fi­cult climb for Demo­crats in the 2nd Dis­trict, though Gwen Gra­ham’s fam­ily name, con­nec­tions, and lack of a polit­ic­al re­cord make her a le­git threat to South­er­land, who hasn’t al­ways fun­draised well.

18. Michigan-01 — Rep. Dan Ben­ishek (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Ben­ishek also struggled struggled with his cam­paign at times in the last few years, and polls con­sist­ently showed him mired in the low-40s in 2012 be­fore he pulled out a nar­row vic­tory over re­peat can­did­ate Gary Mc­Dow­ell. Now, Demo­crats have a fresh face in loc­al sher­iff Jerry Can­non, who would have to over­come the Up­per Pen­in­sula’s gen­er­ic­ally con­ser­vat­ive tilt to win.

19. Flor­ida-18 — Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
By the num­bers, this race ought to go high­er, with Rom­ney hav­ing car­ried the dis­trict as Murphy just squeaked by con­tro­ver­sial Rep. Al­len West in 2012. But the GOP isn’t so sure it has a mar­quee chal­lenger here, and there’s a reas­on why some Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­ans pined for former state House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Adam Has­ner, a prodi­gious fun­draiser, last year. Then again, plenty of folks scoffed at Murphy’s vi­ab­il­ity as he set out last cycle, too. No one will ever run away with this dis­trict, but Murphy’s high fun­drais­ing and luck of the draw so far move him a bit fur­ther down the list.

20. Cali­for­nia-36 — Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Re­pub­lic­ans iden­ti­fied a can­did­ate here early: As­sembly­man Bri­an Nest­ande is a vet­er­an of the Bono polit­ic­al ma­chine. But he’s star­ted slowly, es­pe­cially on the fun­drais­ing front. The Palm Springs-based dis­trict is chan­ging rap­idly, which helped fuel Ruiz’s un­ex­pec­ted vic­tory last term and helped Obama ac­tu­ally per­form slightly bet­ter here in 2012 than 2008 des­pite los­ing ground na­tion­ally. If Ruiz can hold his seat and give that change an­oth­er couple of years, con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans may nev­er get an­oth­er chance to re­take the 36th.

21. Illinois-12 — Rep. Bill En­yart (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Cul­tur­ally, this down­state seat — bordered by Ken­tucky to the south and Mis­souri to the west — looks a lot like the type of Demo­crat­ic dis­trict Re­pub­lic­ans have flat-out as­sim­il­ated, Borg-like, over the past few years, though Demo­crats still main­tain a slight gen­er­ic edge here. En­yart won his fresh­man term more eas­ily than Re­pub­lic­ans were ex­pect­ing, though they think state Rep. Mike Bost could give him a run for his money.

22. Geor­gia-12 — Rep. John Bar­row (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Bar­row ran a flaw­less 2012 cam­paign against a flawed op­pon­ent — and he still won with just un­der 54 per­cent. Such is life for the last re­main­ing House Demo­crat in the Deep South. Rom­ney won the seat by 12 per­cent­age points, and Bar­row’s ceil­ing is too low for com­fort no mat­ter how much even House GOP strategists grudgingly praise his polit­ic­al sur­viv­al in­stincts. Re­pub­lic­an Rick Al­len’s deep pock­ets could play a role here.

23. Cali­for­nia-21 — Rep. Dav­id Valadao (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
By pres­id­en­tial per­form­ance, this is the second-bluest seat held by a House Re­pub­lic­an, so the re­l­at­ively un­tested Valadao has to look over his shoulder a bit. But those num­bers also ob­scure some ma­jor is­sues for Demo­crats in the Cent­ral Val­ley. Former Sen­ate staffer Aman­da Renter­ia has Demo­crats ex­cited and may prove to be a strong cam­paign­er, but her party just lost a 2013 state Sen­ate spe­cial elec­tion in a dis­trict that largely over­lapped with the 21st.

24. New York-19 — Rep. Chris Gib­son (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Gib­son has proven a great elect­or­al fit for the dis­trict, even as Obama car­ried the Hud­son Val­ley seat in 2012, but in­vestor Sean Eldridge (who is mar­ried to Face­book cofounder Chris Hughes) brings con­nec­tions and cash to bear on the race, which has Re­pub­lic­ans nervous. They’ve already be­gun savaging Eldridge as a car­pet­bag­ger out of touch with the me­di­an voter, while pree­mpt­ively win­cing at what might hap­pen in an ex­pens­ive race. Demo­crats tried and failed in 2012 to con­vince area voters that they should sup­port a Demo­crat for Con­gress if they were go­ing to sup­port Obama; that will an im­port­ant page in the play­book again in 2014.

25. Nevada-03 — Rep. Joe Heck (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Heck beat back a Demo­crat­ic chal­lenge in 2012 rather eas­ily con­sid­er­ing the seat’s nar­row lean for Obama, and Demo­crat Erin Bil­bray might be a tough­er match­up when all is said and done. The big is­sue in this race so far has been im­mig­ra­tion. Heck has en­dorsed a path­way to cit­izen­ship, but he has op­posed the bi­par­tis­an Sen­ate bill for com­pre­hens­ive re­form, and the biggest im­mig­ra­tion vote he took in 2013 was one to de­fund Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive Dream Act-style pro­gram. Bil­bray has had trouble land­ing punches on the is­sue, but Heck could be a gauge of how im­mig­ra­tion re­form af­fects Re­pub­lic­an pro­spects in di­verse dis­tricts.

26. Illinois-10 — Rep. Brad Schneider (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Demo­crats fi­nally cap­tured this dis­trict in 2012, when it was the bluest GOP-held seat in the coun­try, after years of failed ef­forts. That type of seat of­ten stays put once it fi­nally flips, but former Rep. Bob Dold proved him­self to be a reas­on­able Re­pub­lic­an fit there last term and can run against Con­gress now, in­stead of as part of it. Illinois Demo­crats and Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­ans may have a sim­il­ar worry this cycle: Keep an eye out for wheth­er un­pop­u­lar Demo­crat­ic Gov. Pat Quinn sup­presses en­thu­si­asm for Schneider north of Chica­go.

27. Pennsylvania-08 — Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Fitzpatrick’s easy vic­tory last cycle means that Demo­crats’ first-time can­did­ates have to prove they can make the seat com­pet­it­ive, though it’s an­oth­er dis­trict that split between Obama and a GOP con­gress­man. This is an­oth­er state where Demo­crats hope an un­pop­u­lar gov­ernor (Tom Corbett) drags down Re­pub­lic­an per­form­ance down-tick­et.

28. New Hamp­shire-02 — Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Kuster has only been in polit­ics for a few years, but she has already ac­cu­mu­lated a start­ling re­cord of pub­lic gaffes, in­clud­ing grabbing a cam­era from a track­er, try­ing to grab the mi­cro­phone from then-Rep. Charles Bass dur­ing a de­bate in 2012, and, most re­cently, dis­miss­ing a series of ag­gress­ive ques­tions at a town-hall meet­ing. The dis­trict is Demo­crat­ic-lean­ing — Kuster barely lost in 2010 des­pite that year’s Re­pub­lic­an wave — but it is not im­mune to the na­tion’s polit­ic­al swings, and Kuster may prove to be a li­ab­il­ity to her­self. A small-sample poll from WMUR last Oc­to­ber showed her un­fa­vor­ab­il­ity high­er than her fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing, in con­trast to her in-state Demo­crat­ic col­league Shea-Port­er, who rep­res­ents a less friendly dis­trict.

29. New York-11 — Rep. Mi­chael Grimm (R) is run­ning for reelec­tion
Demo­crats’ latest chal­lenge to Grimm will be bet­ter-fun­ded than their last, thanks to former New York City Coun­cilor Domen­ic Rec­chia’s con­nec­tions, and the race looks set to be nas­ti­er, too, with Rec­chia and Grimm already go­ing back and forth rais­ing eth­ic­al is­sues about each oth­er. Rec­chia is from Brook­lyn, not Staten Is­land, but Demo­crats are bet­ting he can still make a stronger push there even as Grimm ar­gues he’s more in tune with the dis­trict. This is one of just a hand­ful of dis­tricts where Obama im­proved on his 2008 show­ing last elec­tion, though it’s hard to say how much of that might have been a tem­por­ary ef­fect of Hur­ricane Sandy.

30. Texas-23 — Rep. Pete Gal­lego (D) is run­ning for reelec­tion
As with some pre­vi­ous dis­tricts, the num­bers — in­clud­ing a Rom­ney win here in 2012 — dic­tate that Gal­lego stay on the watch list. But the NR­CC quietly kept re­cruit­ing in this vast West Texas dis­trict after all three Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates were already run­ning, which sends a frank mes­sage about how the GOP views their pro­spects. Part of the prob­lem: Former Rep. Quico Can­seco, the best-known of the three Re­pub­lic­an con­tenders, was sav­aged by Demo­crat­ic ads last cycle, with linger­ing res­ults on pub­lic opin­ion.

Hon­or­able men­tions: New Jer­sey-02 — Rep. Frank Lo­Bi­ondo (R) and Min­nesota-07 — Rep. Col­lin Peterson (D) are both run­ning for reelec­tion
There are nu­mer­ous oth­er dis­tricts we could men­tion. Michigan’s 11th Dis­trict, where reindeer-rais­ing, Santa cos­tume-wear­ing, tea-party Rep. Kerry Bento­volio faces both a primary and a gen­er­al-elec­tion chal­lenge, is par­tic­u­larly in­triguing, as is the col­lect­ive plight of the few re­main­ing Blue Dog Demo­crats in the House. But these two make an in­ter­est­ing pair, and we’re go­ing to ex­er­cise some self-con­trol and just talk about them for a mo­ment. Here’s why.

Peterson hasn’t been ser­i­ously chal­lenged since 1994, and Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans ap­proach that fact from dif­fer­ent angles. Per­haps Peterson is un­touch­able, des­pite his dis­trict’s pro­cliv­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans at oth­er levels of gov­ern­ment. Or per­haps the GOP had nev­er got­ten a good enough can­did­ate in­to the race, at least un­til blind state Sen. Tor­rey Westrom de­clared a bid earli­er this year. It will take a few months to sort out right from wrong here. Pretty much the same goes for Lo­Bi­ondo in New Jer­sey, where the DCCC has got­ten be­hind former pro­sec­utor Bill Hughes, son of Lo­Bi­ondo’s pre­de­cessor. The Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bent has nev­er got­ten few­er than 59 per­cent of the votes in 10 elec­tions. Peterson and Lo­Bi­ondo have eas­ily res­isted the trend against tick­et-split­ting in the in­creas­ingly par­lia­ment­ary House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. 2014 could provide the biggest test yet of that res­ist­ance. 

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"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

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