November 2, 2006
Addendum 3 to Sprint: Will the Sleeper Awake?
The previous six predictive posts on the upcoming election are here:
- Sprint to the Finish
- Addendum to Sprint to the Finish
- Bride of Sprint to the Finish
- Sprint to the Finish Rises From Its Grave
- Revenge of Sprint to the Finish
- Addendum 2 to the Sprint
Commenter Watchman noted three races in districts currently held by Democrats that could prove surprising upsets on Election Day; at least two of them look very intriguing indeed:
I don't want to be overly optimistic, but you don't list the Dems two seats in Georgia or Bean in Illinois, and I think the GOP has a real shot at taking all three of those.
I'm a bit dubious about the internals of IL-8 (Melissa Bean's seat): via the analysis by RCP, the Daily Herald poll that showed Republican Dave McSweeny only 3 points behind gave a nutroots third-party candidate 8% of the vote, drawn almost entirely from the Democratic side.
Usually, such third-party protests collapse at the polls. People will tell the pollsters that they're going to vote for Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader, but when crunch time comes, they sigh, close their eyes, and yank the lever for the nearest major-party candidate. Don't be surprised if, in the end, Bean suddenly picks up an additional 5 or 6 points, as the Democrats reject "third-party anti-war candidate Bill Scheurer" when they actually step into the booth. Still, it's a possibility.
As far as GA-8, currently held by Democrat Jim Marshall, we only have Democratic Party polls, which show a solid lead of 16%. However, the internals are very mixed up: the district went moderately strong for Bush in 2004 (55 to 45)... but it also went even more heavily for Marshall, who defeated the Republican by 26%. (Marshall won the seat in 2002 by only 2 points.)
Warning: GA-8 used to be GA-3; they swapped numbers in the 2005 redistricting. So you have to look it up in Michael Barone's Almanac of American Politics by the old number, GA-3. (GA-3 -- formerly GA-8 -- is currently a very conservative seat held by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland - R, 96%.)
So it's a race to keep an eye on, but I don't think there is good public evidence yet that this will be a Republican pick-up. The mixed 2004 results indicate that Marshall has the kind of strong personal backing within the district which can weather challenges, even in a district that is more aligned with the other party. That means Marshall, an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam and very pro-military Democrat, will probably pull this race out and is likely ahead even in Republican polls... which is why nobody is talking about it much.
But Watchman is right about GA-12. I just heard about this today for the first time from Denny Hastert, who was a guest on Michael Medved's first hour; and Hastert himself said this race was on no one's radar. The GOP was caught as wrongfooted as the Democrats.
Current polling (Insider Advantage, which is usually pretty clean) has Democratic incumbent Rep. John Barrow ahead by only 3 points; this is the first public poll listed by RCP since a couple of Republican polls three and a half months ago.
Barrow beat Max Burns last cycle 52 to 48; this is the rematch. But Burns himself is a former representative of this district, having won in 2002 by 55 to 45 against Democrat Charles Walker.
The 12th went for both Gore and Kerry by nearly identical margins, 10 and 9 points respectively; it has been tighter in its congressional races than in the presidential contests, and the Democrat has not always won.
This could be the sleeper race of the South. If the GOP is to win any of these three, I think it will be GA-12, rather than GA-8 or IL-8, despite the fact that RCP ranks the Melissa Bean seat in Illinois the 29th most vulnerable and the John Barrow seat in Georgia as only 35th most vulnerable.
If there are two pick-ups, Bean will be the other. I'm very, very skeptical about GA-8; in a huge Republican year, I think it would be vulnerable... but it doesn't look so in this year. Jim Marshall seems to be well liked in his district, and that is usually decisive.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2006, at the time of 2:43 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1418
The following hissed in response by: McnMan
I live in GA-08. I have not been hearing any commercials for Collins (R) for the last two weeks or so, though Bush has been here twice in the last month to campaign for him (should be a sign of strength).
Tonight I went by the home of my black Republican boss, and to my dismay I saw a Marshall (D) sign in his front yard. I am seeing a lot more Marshall signs than Collins, even in my father's neighborhood of prosperous older folks.
I am not enthused about GA-08 any more, but from what I hear about GA-12 (Savannah suburbs and rural areas, mostly), chances are better, especially since the district has been shorn of the college town of Athens in the late redistricting.
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