The Official JABBS Election Prediction: The House (Barely) Goes To The Democrats
It's been beaten like a drum for the past six months.
The Democrats need to pick up 15 seats in order to regain control of the House for the first time since Newt Gingrich and his "Contract With America" swept into power in 1994.
What follows is as comprehensive a breakdown of the House as you'll find anywhere. I've digested polls, poll averages, and historical voting patterns, in an effort to put together a prediction that hopefully will not only be compelling, but a reflection of what will happen on Election Day.
The short answer: The Democrats will pick up 18 seats, giving the party a 221-214 majority.
I gave the Republicans a slight bump in the polls -- the equivalent of Las Vegas giving the home team in football a 3-point advantage. (Reflecting superior get-out-the-vote efforts in recent elections and better name recognition of incumbents, among other things.) As a result, my predictions are (pardon the pun) more conservative than others. It also means that races within the margin of error are automatically toss-ups -- even if recent polls actually show the Democrat with a slight lead.
Of course, last-minute news items could change things since the most recent polls were taken. The announcement that Saddam Hussein will hang. Military newspaper editorials calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Even the discovery that a Religious Right leader bedded a gay prostitute and used crystal meth.
And always, there's bad weather to consider.
One other note: I have left out third-party candidates, and have based margins of victory as if the vote were only split between Democrats and Republicans.
That said, here's a breakdown, state-by-state, of all the races considered competitive. (R for Republican and D for Democrat. "Inc." denotes the incumbent, when there is one.)
Democratic Pick-Ups (14)
This total does not include the Vermont House race -- currently held by an Independent who votes with the Democrats. In that race, however, I project Welch (D) will beat Rainville (R) 51.5% to 48.5%.
Arizona 8th District, Giffords (D) 53%, Graf (R) 47%
Colorado 7th District, Perlmutter (D) 51%, O'Donnell (R). 49%
Florida 13th District, Jennings (D) 51%, Buchanan (R). 49%
Indiana 2nd District, Donnelly (D) 51%, Chocola (R-Inc.) 49%
Indiana 8th District Ellsworth (D) 53%, Hostetler (R-Inc.) 47%
Iowa 1st District, Braley (D) 51%, Whalen (R). 49%
Nebraska 3rd District, Kleeb (D) 51%, Smith (R) 49%
New York 24th District, Arcuri (D) 51%, Meier (R) 49%
New York 29th District, Massa (D) 52%, Kuhl (R-Inc.) 48%
North Carolina 11th District, Shuler (D) 54%, Taylor (R-Inc.) 46%
Ohio 15th District, Kilroy (D) 53%, Pryce (R-Inc.) 47%
Ohio 18th District, Space (D) 52%, Padgett (R) 48%
Pennsylvania 10th District, Carney (D) 53%, Sherwood (R-Inc.) 47%
Texas 22nd District, Lampson (D), 55%, Sekula-Gibbs (R) 45%
Toss-Ups Leaning Democrat (10)
The following races are within the margni of error, but recent polls favor the Democrats.
Connecticut 5th District, Murphy (D) 50%, Johnson (R-Inc.) 50%
Illinois 6th District Duckworth (D) 50%, Roskam (R) 50%
Indiana 9th District Hill (D) 50%, Sodrel (R-Inc.) 50%
Kentucky 3rd District, Yarmuth (D) 50%, Northup (R-Inc.) 50%
New Hampshire 2nd District, Hodes (D) 50.5%, Bass (R-Inc.) 49.5%
New Mexico 1st District Madrid (D) 50%, Wilson (R-Inc.) 50%
New York 25th District, Maffei (D), 50.5%, Walsh (R-Inc.) 49.5%
Ohio 1st District, Cranley (D) 50.5%, Chabot (R-Inc.) 49.5%
Pennsylvania 6th District, Murphy (D) 50%, Gerlach (R-Inc.) 50%
Wisconsin 8th District, Kagen (D) 50%, Gard (R-Inc.) 50%.
Toss-Ups Leaning Republican (15)
The following races are within the margin of error, but recent polls favor the Republicans or show a statistical dead heat.
California 11th District, McNerney (D) 48%, Pombo (R-Inc.) 52%
Connecticut 2nd District, Courtney (D), 48.5, Simmons (R-Inc.) 51.5%
Connecticut 4th District, Farrell (D) 49%, Shays (R-Inc.) 51%
Florida 16th District, Mahoney (D) 47%, Foley (R-Inc.) 53%
Florida 22nd District, Klein (D) 49%, Shaw (R-Inc.) 51%
Idaho 1st District, Grant (D) 47%, Sali (R) 53%
Iowa 2nd District, Loebsack (D) 48%, Leach (R-Inc.) 52%
Kentucky 4th District, Lucas (D), 48.5%, Davis (R-Inc.) 51.5%
Minnesota 1st District, Walz (D), 47.5%, Gutknecht (R-Inc.) 52.5%
New York 19th District, Hall (D), 49%, Kelly (R-Inc.) 51%
New York 20th District, Gillibrand (D) 49%, Sweeney (R-Inc.) 51%
New York 26th District, Davis (D) 49.5%, Reynolds (R-Inc.) 50.5%
Ohio 2nd District, Walsin (D) 47.5%, Schmidt (R-Inc.) 52.5%
Pennsylvania 8th District, Murphy (D) 48%, Fitzpatrick (R-Inc.) 52%
Virginia 2nd District, Kellam (D) 48.5%, Drake (R-Inc.) 51.5%
I'm going to assume that the Democrats will win the races in which a lead is clearly outside the margin of error, and split the races in which a lead is within the margin of error. Even assuming the Republicans win all the races in which the party has a lead within the margin of error, that would give the Democrats a pick-up of 19 seats.
But what about seats held by Democrats that could be picked up by Republicans? There's one.
Georgia 12th District, Barrow (D-Inc.) 49.5%, Burns (R) 50.5%
That gives the Democrats a net gain of 18.