Skip to comments.Can Any of These House Underdogs Survive?
Posted on 06/08/2012 6:46:26 PM PDT by randita
Can Any of These House Underdogs Survive? Stuart Rothenberg June 8, 2012 · 1:48 PM EDT
Remember their names: Reps. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.).
If any of these five House incumbents survive, it will surprise most dispassionate observers (including some in their own parties). But upsets happen, and each of these candidates has a scenario for victory.
Moments after Bass was declared the winner in November 2010, most political insiders figured he would be doomed in 2012. But considering his past electoral success, reports of his political demise could be premature.
Bass, the son of a former Congressman and the grandson of a governor, served a dozen years in Congress before losing by 7 points in 2006, a horrible year for Republicans nationally, to Paul Hodes, the same Democrat he had defeated by 20 points two years earlier.
Four years later, Hodes ran for Senate and Bass ran to reclaim his former seat. Democrats nominated attorney Ann McLane Kuster, whose father was mayor of Concord. Kusters grandfather served as governor and her mother served in the state Senate as a Republican. Her mother, Susan McLane, also ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Congress in 1980.
In a mild upset, Bass won by just 3,550 votes (fewer than 2 points) in a huge Republican year. His narrow victory is one reason why so many insiders predicted his second tour in Congress would be brief.
Kuster is running again, and she is a formidable challenger. She ended March with $1 million in the bank compared to Bass $790,000. Democrats (and some Republicans) already count this seat as a takeover, and a May survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showing Bass and Kuster tied at 42 percent was further evidence of the Republicans problems.
But Bass mild, New England manner shouldnt be confused with political naiveté. He has been a survivor in a district that is far from automatic for a Republican Barack Obama won it with 56 percent in 2008, and both Al Gore and John Kerry carried it as well and his record of fiscal conservatism and moderation on social and environmental issues is in sync with district voters.
Georgias Barrow allegedly is serving his last term after Republicans redrew his district from one that gave Obama 54 percent to one that would have given Obama only 44 percent.
Though he supported the economic stimulus in 2009 and opposed repealing Obamas health care law in 2010, he has cast enough votes to allow him to stress his independence from the national Democratic agenda, including his votes against passage of the health care reform and cap-and-trade bills, his support for the extension of the Bush tax cuts and his refusal to support Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker in 2011.
But Barrows ability to win re-election last time in the face of the Republican electoral tsunami shouldnt give Democrats too much comfort. His opponent, Ray McKinney, raised little money and didnt run a serious race. National Republicans never helped him. Barrows 57 percent victory was more a reflection of the challengers weakness than of anything else.
Republicans wont pick a nominee until July or, more likely, a mid-August runoff. None of the four Republicans in the race looks like a political powerhouse who can automatically take advantage of the re-drawn districts Republican bent.
In Illinois, Schilling wasnt expected to win in 2010, so its probably no surprise that nobody expects him to survive after the Democratic-controlled state Legislature redrew his already difficult district to make it even more Democratic.
But Schilling, who owned a pizza restaurant before he was elected to Congress, has a down-to-earth, blue-collar appeal that allowed him to win this very Democratic district in the first place. A May Public Opinion Strategies poll for the Republicans campaign had him leading East Moline Councilwoman Cheri Bustos (D) by double digits, 51 percent to 35 percent.
However, that poll could be deceiving. Bustos fundraising is credible she showed $470,000 in the bank at the end of March and her standing in the GOP poll is more a reflection of her weak name identification than anything else.
Like Schilling, she is personable. And while her comments in videos on her website are filled with nothing more than boilerplate Democratic rhetoric, that could be enough given the partisan makeup of this district and the presidential year.
Utahs Matheson once again is an underdog. So what else is new? Ive seen this movie before. But this time the ending may be different.
Matheson always outperforms other Democrats in his district, frustrating GOP strategists who believe the seat should be theirs. Four years ago, for example, he ran 23 points ahead of Obama in the district, and two years ago he was re-elected by more than 4 points when almost every other vulnerable House Democrat was going down to defeat.
Matheson has not put together a typical Democratic record. He supported extending the Bush tax cuts and opposed his party on health care reform and cap-and-trade.
But Republican legislators redrew his 2nd district to give him new voters who dont know him, and he is now running in the 4th district. Matheson has never faced a Republican opponent quite like Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs and the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
Love is black, Mormon, conservative and personable, an obvious change from the generic white state legislators that Matheson has usually faced and dispatched. National Republicans are likely to rally for Loves candidacy, giving her the cash and notoriety that Mathesons recent challengers have not had.
Finally, back in Illinois, Dolds already difficult district was made even more inhospitable for him by redistricting.
GOP operatives were hoping Ilya Sheyman would be the Democratic challenger, but he lost the primary to businessman Brad Schneider, a mainstream Democrat. The Jewish community is not unimportant in this district, and Dold is widely seen as a reliable supporter of Israel. But Schneider, a mainstream Democrat who contributed in the past to the districts previous Congressman, now-Sen. Mark Kirk (R), has been active on pro-Israel issues as well.
While the numbers are tough for Dold, he has the right profile for the district, and Obamas appeal may be less than it was two years ago, even in this upscale North Shore district. Still, the Republican looks to be a clear underdog.
Of the seats mentioned, the one I hope most turns GOP is Matheson’s. Mia Love would be a great addition to the House GOP contingent.
Dold is a sissy. It wouldnt matter much
I am in Dold’s distict. I will be skipping the vote in that race. “Bipartisan Bob” is the waste of a perfectly good “R”.
Me too, Arlington Heights. I can’t stand the guy. What a jellyfish
Would be great to see a black conservative woman in the House.
I don’t know much about Rep Bass from NH but if NH has gone so far to the left that they elect another Dem to the House then I don’t see how Romney is going to carry the state, or how it can ever turn back to its Republican roots.
Barrow and Dold are meat. Some freepers in Dold-land on this thread saying they’re not voting for him. I would but I don’t think he can win that seat.
Schilling has a shot but not a great one. (burn in hell Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan and Scott Cohen) The rat candidate underwhelms me (as does the one for the Dold seat, he won the primary cause he had the most normal name) though she’s okay looking for a Stalinist witch.
I think Love will beat Matheson but he could win, Mormon Romney on the top of the ticket helps.
Bass is not an “underdog”, that race is a tossup.
Not mentioned here is another IL Republican, Joe Walsh. His district is better than any of the other vulnerable gerrymandered IL seats but he’s weak and most people think he has no chance.
Bass had nothing to do with Romney. The state will be close (unless Romney pulls ahead). Romney will probably carry the first district and Obama the second.
As to the Republican roots, the state leg is a GOP supermajority again after 2010 and I think we will take back the Governorship.
NH is a swing state, not a rat state.
I live in Rep. Dold’s new district, and I think that he’ll barely win, with about 50.5% of the vote. In his new district, the majority of the state legislators and county commissioners are Republicans.
Rep. Walsh will easily win. All of the voters, of the new 8th Dist., have a republican congressman, now, Walsh, Dold, Hultgren, or Roskam. The majority of those voters have a republican state senator, Murphy, Pankau, or Dillard.
I don’t see how the RAT Barrow can survive in the redrawn GA-12. Democrats are delusional if they think that the liberal-to-moderate Barrow can get enough conservative votes to make it close.
As for the IL races, I would rank the endangered Republican incumbents, in order of most likely to least likely to survive, as follows:
I’d place Biggert’s odds of winning at 55%, Dold’s at 45%, Schilling’s at 40% and Walsh’s at 10%. Walsh’s CD is the least Dem of the four, but he was a fluke winner in 2010 in a GOP district and is a terrible fit for the new district.
As for Charlie Bass, I agree that reports of his demise are exaggerated. Yes, the district leans a bit Dem, and he is facing an extremely well funded challenger, but Romney could feasibly carry the district and Bass has at least even odds of holding on.
BTW, the RAT candidate with the most “normal” name won in IL-10, while the RAT candidate with the sexiest name (Cheri Bustos) won in IL-17—Bustos means “breasts” in Spanish. http://www.cheribustos.com/
He stayed with his father's party and it will probably cost him.
I heard of people with the surname “Foot” and “Head” and “Hand” but that’s odd.
Doesn’t quite live up to her name, it is a married name after all. ;D
I don’t think anyone else on the planet thinks he will “easily” win.
The district is worse but it’s still okay, I’d bet Bush still carried in 2004. But he is weak, Only the size of the wave in 2010 pulled him across, and if anything he is in a weaker position this time.
We should be thinking of who can win it back in 2014.
Would love to be wrong.
You’re right, Bustos is her married name. Her maiden name is Callahan (which, as far as I know, is not an Irish Gaelic term for “rack” : ), and she comes from a very politically connected family of liberal Democrats (with close ties to Paul Simon and Dick Durbin): http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=591758
Bass is the instructional video for GOPe. I will be delighted if he loses.
In 2010, Walsh won because of the Green Party candidate. Walsh beat Bean by about 300 votes, and the Green Party candidate got about 3000 votes.
However, his new district has a higher percentage of Republicans. Why do you think that Walsh might lose? His new district has few democrat elected officials.
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