Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bunning , House election news

Meanwhile, comes news that undeserving HOFer Jim Bunning is out. Bunning's seat was one of six rated as Toss Up by Charley Cook; it will likely move to at least Lean R in his next update, while the IL seat may well move from Toss Up to at least Lean D. Including those two, Cook only sees nine seats as competitive right now, indicating what looks like a pretty boring cycle on the Senate side (although he had Specter as a Lean D, and that might be shifting to Toss Up soon).

The other '10 cycle news of the day is that CQ's latest estimates predict a dull House cycle, too. Nate Silver cautions that "wave" elections can cause unpredictable seat changes in favor of the party benefiting from the wave (and he also repeats the myth that Newt's "Contract" was helpful to the Republicans in 1994), but I don't think that's the best way to think about it. Large turnovers are the result of two things: a shift of the electorate as a whole from one party to the other, which can result in surprises, but also strategic politicians and other actors reacting to conditions in ways that reinforce expectations -- the big issues are decisions to retire by incumbents, and decisions to run by strong challengers. Early looks like those by CQ, Charley Cook, and Stuart Rothenberg are useful because they report on such decisions. Bottom line: it's too early to know much yet, but what we see so far are the indications of a dull year with small GOP gain. Unless we see significant changes in D/R retirement ratios and significantly more success in recruitment by the GOP by January, then we're not going to get a >25 seat swing, and certainly not a >35 seat swing.
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