In April, House Republican Leader John Boehner raised a few eyebrows when he made this statement:
When pressed for a number, Boehner said he believed the GOP could win as many as 100 seats in this fall's elections.
“At least 100 seats,” Boehner said when asked how wide the playing field for districts is. “I do,” the top House Republican answered when asked if he thinks there are 100 seats in the U.S. “that could change hands.”
Of course, the operative word was “could,” and it still is. But the playing field for possible seat changes, which is what Boehner was referencing at the time, didn't seem nearly as wide as Ohio's 8th District Congressman claimed (to perhaps stretch Boehner's defense a bit, some seats currently held by Republicans could “change hands” if won by Democrats).
Now it does it seems to be getting pretty close to Boehner's three-digit figure — or at least closer to 100 than to 50.
• In Ohio, it's pretty much a given that six Democrats are vulnerable, but so is the Toledo area's Marcy Kaptur. A week ago, Kaptur's Libertarian challenger Joe Jaffe dropped out of the race and threw his support to Republican Rich Lott because “I feel, and a lot of people feel, he has a chance of winning.” Kaptur is fighting the negative fallout from connections with the PMA lobbying group and the appearance of a $3.5 billion (that's right, with a “b”) payoff in return for her support for cap and trade legislation last year.
• The Associated Press wrote on September 10 that “Dems could lose 8 Empire State seats in US House.”
• In Michigan, Pollster Steve Mitchell writes that “Democrats are in real trouble in Michigan and could lose up to three Congressional seats.” His list does not include John Dingell, who infamously described how difficult it is to “control the people” to get them to comply with ObamaCare, and over whom the Democrats are openly fretting.
• About Pennsylvania, Investors Business Daily's Jed Graham writes: “Having swung from a 12-7 Republican advantage after the 2004 elections to a 12-7 Democratic advantage after 2008, the Pennsylvania House delegation may do a reverse flip in 2010.” Chalk up at least another five seats clearly in play.
That's 24 seats in only four states (OH-7, NY-8, MI-4, PA-5) with only about 17% of the nation's population.
It's still quite a ways to 100, and from here the math gets shakier, but it's still quite supportable.
Nine seats in states other than the four just mentioned were held by retiring Republicans and then won by Democrats in 2008. Clearly, given the changes in the political landscape, most if not all of those incumbents should be vulnerable. Nine seats were lost by Republican incumbents in states other than the four just mentioned. Again, most if not all of these freshman Democrats should be vulnerable.
If all of these races identified thus far end up going to Republicans, that's just above the 40 needed for control of the House to change.
Beyond that, I would suggest that any Democrat who won with a margin of less than 10% last time and has a credible challenger should be sweating — profusely. Those who won by 15% and are in competitive races also shouldn't be sleeping very well. That's a lot of Democrats.
A more detailed look would be in order further down the road, but when Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank is acting and campaigning as if he's worried (because he should be), you know there have to be scores of other Democratic incumbents who are concerned about how big their District's 2010 Tea Party-driven wave will be.
John Boehner's optimistic April assertion may turn out to have been much more than wishful thinking.