GOP Can Retake House in '08

For all the talk of a new generation of Democratic rule in the House of Representatives and Republicans’ being shut out of control until at least the next census in 2011, the hard numbers don’t agree. In 33 districts nationwide, Democrats emerged triumphant with 55% of the vote or less. In 18 of those districts, the margin of victory for the Democrats was less than 52%.

Four of the “squeaker Democrats” — Mahoney (FL-4), Gillibrand (NY-20), Carney (PA-10), and Lampson (TX-22) — were elected in historically Republican districts in the wake of scandal surrounding the GOP incumbent. Mahoney and Lampson, in fact, were narrow winners over substitute Republican candidates when the resigned incumbents in their districts (former Representatives Mark Foley and Tom DeLay) could not even get their names removed from the November ballots.

Writing about the so-called “Watergate Year” in which Republicans were reduced to about one-third of the House (their worst setback in mid-term House races before ’06), Ronald Reagan’s political consultant, Lyn Nofziger, saw positive lining in the gloomy results because he felt the elections cleaned out the deadwood in the GOP and all but one of the defeated incumbents, he noted, ever made it back to the House. So it could be this year. In several districts, senior Republican lawmakers who had lost touch with the grass-roots in their districts and did not go home frequently were unseated.

Below are the closely won Democratic seats in ’06, most of which are sure to be the most hotly contested House races in ’08 and the battlegrounds for a possible Republican recapture of the House.

Representative State District Percentage of vote won in 2006
Tim Mahoney Florida 16 49.5%
Baron Hill Indiana 09 49.9%
Joe Courtney Connecticut 02 50.0%
John Barrow Georgia 12 50.3%
Patrick Murphy Pennsylvania 08 50.3%
Harry Mitchell Arizona 05 50.4%
Jim Marshall Georgia 08 50.5%
Nancy Boyda Kansas 02 50.6%
John Yarmuth Kentucky 03 50.6%
John Hall New York 19 50.9%
Melissa Bean Illinois 08 51.0%
Ron Klein Florida 22 51.1%
Steve Kagen Wisconsin 08 51.1%
David Loebsack Iowa 02 51.3%
Carol Shea-Porter New Hampshire 01 51.5%
Leonard Boswell Iowa 03 51.7%
Jason Altmire Pennsylvania 04 51.9%
Nick Lampson Texas 22 51.9%
Paul Hodes New Hampshire 02 52.6%
Timothy Walz Minnesota 01 52.8%
Kristen Gillibrand New York 20 53.0%
Christopher Carney Pennsylvania 10 53.0%
Jerry McNerney California 11 53.1%
Peter Welch Vermont At Large 53.2%
Julia Carson Indiana 07 53.5%
Michael Arcuri New York 24 53.6%
Heath Shuler North Carolina 11 53.7%
Joe Donnelly Indiana 02 53.9%
Gabrielle Giffords Arizona 08 54.1%
Darlene Hooley Oregon 05 54.2%
Ed Perlmutter Colorado 07 54.8%
Bruce Braley Iowa 01 55.0%
Charlie Melancon Louisiana 03 55.0%


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