Way out on a limb

My friends say that I am way too optimistic, but I will go where few political pundits dare to go and predict the Republicans will pick up 77 — that’s right, 77 — seats in the House of Representatives, and when you count Republican retirees who are being replaced by newly elected members, John Boehner will have around 100 freshmen coming into town the third week of November.

How do I get to 77? The answer is math.

RealClearPolitics shows the Republicans at 224 with 43 toss-ups. That is a pickup of 45 seats for the Republicans if the Democrats win EVERY toss-up. In a wave election, the late-breakers go to the winning side, so I am projecting that the Republicans win three out of four toss-ups, or 31 of those races. That puts it at 76.

Based upon what I have been told from certain campaigns that are in the lean-Democrat category, like the New Hampshire-2 race where the internal polls for Republican Charlie Bass show him winning, it isn’t even close. Similarly, the latest listed poll shows Ike Skelton holding onto his overwhelmingly Republican seat, but everyone I know believes he is cooked.

To put this election into perspective, in modern history, the previous largest Republican gain was 55 seats in 1946, and it is this historical barrier that is keeping most political pundits from believing their eyes and ears.

Washington political analysts were the last ones to figure out the 1994 Contract With America Republican victory, because it ran counter to their entire life experience. Similarly, they are struggling with this “Tea Party” election because no one alive has seen a generic congressional ballot that puts Republicans at between plus-6 and -8.

Why this generic ballot is particularly important is that Democratic districts tend to be packed in urban areas, with Democrats having negligible Republican opposition in their districts. Due to this compacting of hardcore Democrat districts, and the lack of anything comparable on the Republican side, Republicans typically win if the generic ballot is close to even.

Now, Democrats in what were formally nominal Democrat districts are scrambling for their lives because the swing voters have rejected their party brand, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Michael Barone on the Grandy Show on WMAL brought the difficulty the Democrats face home quite eloquently this (Monday) morning, when he mentioned that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D) of Minnesota is in deep trouble in his reelection bid. The last time his Iron Range District voted Republican was in 1944. In fact, Barone points out that it was one of three districts that switched from Republican to Democrat in the massive 1946 Republican wave election.

On second thought, maybe 77 seats is too conservative a prediction; this could be really big.


Rick Manning is a former local elected official in Chesapeake Beach, Md., and currently is the director of communications for Americans for Limited Government. As always, all of his opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of ALG.

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