Thursday, August 20, 2009

2010 Update: Cook trends

Here's a new occasional item. For those who are not familiar with the Cook Political Report, it's one of a handful of non-partisan assessments of the state of House, Senate, and Governor elections. Cook's team of reporters rates every race for those offices as Solid, Likely, or Lean Republican; Toss-Up; or Lean, Likely, or Solid Democratic. Seven different ratings. Each of the groups out there that do these things have their own biases; Cook, for example, is extremely conservative concerning threats to incumbents (he's least likely to list an incumbent as lean or likely to lose, and he'll sometimes refuse to incorporate news into the ratings until it becomes official -- thus he changed the rating for TX Senate this week after Kay Bailey Hutchison's formal announcement that she was running for Governor, even though everyone knew about it months ago.

At any rate, Cook features a running list of his twenty-five most recent rating changes on his web site, and I think a quick count of the changes yields a pretty good sense of recent changes in the electoral landscape. So I'm going to go through once in a while and count them up. What's being measured here, in other words, is right now vs. a few weeks ago. There's no regular update schedule, exactly, so twenty five changes may go back a month, as it does right now, or it could go back longer or less long. Moreover, some individual events (such as Hutchison's announcement) have no bearing on partisan trends. So this is far from definitive. But, to those of us who like following elections, I think it'll be fun. Here goes...

25 rating changes. I'm going to count the direction and magnitude of each one (Solid R to Likely R is one step towards the Democrats, or One Step To D). Every office (House, Senate, Governor) all tossed in together. I'll list each category that shows up (most changes are one step), and then produce a Big Number, which is just going to be adding each step together.

Thursday August 20
One Step to R: 14
Two Steps to R: 1
Three Steps to R: 1
One Step to D: 8
Two Steps to D: 0
Three Steps to D: 1

Big Number: R +8

No surprises here; the last month has been good for the Republicans. Again, I wouldn't put much stock in this number by itself; there's far more that it doesn't tell you (such as which party looks better overall) than what it does tell you. I think it's a nice way to picture how things are trending on a seat-by-seat basis over the last few weeks, and I think it will be fun to watch the number move over the next few months as candidates make their decisions.

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