The Districts that will Determine the Majority
Four Races in Pennsylvania to Watch
By Leon H Wolf Posted in 2006 — Comments (25) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Handicapping the race for the House majority is dicey business. Recently, while browsing around the web, I came across a headline which read, "House Republicans brace to lose between 7 and 30 seats." Sounds about right. Of course, there's a mighty wide gulf between losing 7 seats and losing 30 seats, and it's difficult to know where on the spectrum things currently stand.
At the moment, four Congressional Districts in Eastern Pennsylvania stand out as a bellweather for the rest of the country. All four are held by Republican incumbents who are vulnerable. Because of their location, the returns for these districts should be among the first to come in. If, on election night, we manage to keep three of the four seats, I'll feel good about keeping the majority. If we only keep two, I'll start being nervous. And if we lose three or all four, I'll start feeling doomed.
Below the fold for analysis...
PA-10 is in the northeast corner of the state, north of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. The seat is currently held by
one-term(UPDATE: LHW) four-term incumbent Don Sherwood. This seat should be one of the safest Republican seats in the whole country, but Sherwood has made quite a mess of his personal life. In a district this rural, that has really hurt him in the polls. Despite these problems, Sherwood was still up in April of this year, but more recent polling shows him in trouble. This race could be significant because it involves a district full of people who really don't want to vote for a Democrat, but may be disgruntled enough with the personal indiscretions of their Congressman to have no choice. In other words, this may predict the larger pull of the Foley effect somewhat.
The other three districts (6, 7, and 8) are all in the Philadelphia suburbs.
District 6 is currently held by Jim Gerlach, who is somewhat of a milquetoast Republican (although we have many, many worse). In 2004, Gerlach squeaked by Lois Murphy by a 51-49 margin, and Murphy has returned for a rematch. The last non-Zogby poll of this race was a Keystone Poll which showed Gerlach clinging to a very slight lead. The complete set of PA-6 polls is here which shows that this race is a toss-up yet again, in a district that just barely went for Kerry in 2004. This is the one race that I have my eye on as probably the truest bellweather on election night.
District 7 is currently held by Curt Weldon, one of the leading Able Danger trumpetblowers. He is also the author of the Weldon Amendment, one of the more reasonable (and therefore hated) pieces of pro-life legislation in recent years. Weldon is alleged to have some lobbyist issues, and hasn't been as staunch as he should have been on spending issues, but in my estimation, he's certainly a Critter worth keeping. A recent Keystone poll showed Weldon trailing by 1 point in a very small sample, previous polling had Weldon with double-digit leads. If Weldon loses his seat, expect election night to be a very long one, indeed.
In PA-8, one-term incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick is squaring off against netroots favorite and Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy. This is a district that is red, but slowly trending blue. This district will be an interesting indicator of the extent to which Democrats are able to beat incumbent Republicans on the basis of a strong alliance with Bush. If Murphy pulls off a victory here, anti-war sentiment may carry several other Democrats to Congressional upsets.