Returns for 435 House elections will start rolling in a few hours from now. Well before they do, though, most Dems had long conceded that more than a handful of races are already lost. With these seats for all intents and purposes off the table before the polls opened, the number of truly contested seats the GOP needs to win control of the House is effectively much smaller than the magic 39.
Assuming the House does change hands, then, the big open question is how big the swing will be. There are scores of seats in play, but the battle lines have already moved past over a dozen House members who, in most cases, have already been written off by their own party.
If you’re keeping score tonight, don’t hold your breath for any of these Democrats.
- 1. Allen Boyd (FL-02): One of the most conservative Democrats in the House has held on to his seat since 1997, along the way flirting with Social Security privatization and other GOP ideas. That didn’t do him any favors in a year when he needed strong Dem support, and his overtures to the base — Boyd surprised everybody by voting for the final health care bill, and for Wall Street reform — haven’t been enough to keep him above water.
- 2. Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-03): Support from unions hasn’t helped Dahlkemper overcome high unemployment in her district. The pro-life freshman Democrat helped broker a compromise on the abortion provisions in the health care bill.
- 3. Steve Driehaus (OH-01): Dreihaus skirmished with House Minority Leader John Boehner earlier this year after the top Republican — who represents a neighboring district — said Driehaus would be a “dead man” if he voted for the health care bill. Driehaus, a freshman, was receiving death threats at the time. The DCCC recently pulled financial support for him.
- 4. Chet Edwards (TX-17): The ten-term Democrat had a genial enough relationship with his party leadership that after Barack Obama won his presidential nomination, Speaker Nancy Pelosi floated his name as a potential Vice Presidential candidate. Edwards represents one of the most conservative districts in the country and has a voting record to match. It hasn’t helped.
- 5. Debbie Halvorson (IL-11): Halvorson’s seat has been in Republican hands for more than a decade before she won in 2008 with a solid 58 percent of the vote. But that support hasn’t held against Republican challenger, and Iraq war veteran, Adam Kinzinger.
- 6. Steve Kagen (WI-08): Not every insider has written off Kagen completely, but most say he won’t be around for a third term — a victim of a very tough year in Wisconsin.
- 7. Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15): Freshman Kilroy only narrowly won her seat in 2008 in a Democratic wave year, so it’s no surprise that the man she narrowly defeated in 2008 is poised to defeat her this year — this time, with the backing of the Tea Party.
- 8. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01): Kirkpatrick won an open seat in a Republican district by a significant margin in 2008. She’s one of many freshmen members in tough districts who watched as a conservative opponent emerged and shot ahead in the polls.
- 9. Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24): Yet another freshman who charged to the center once the political environment this year was set in stone. Kosmas supported the extension of all the Bush tax cuts — after she agonized over health care reform and voted against the House bill, but for the final legislation.
- 10. Betsy Markey (CO-04): Markey also moved to the center after winning her seat in 2008. Most handicappers and party faithful count her out, but the DCCC did dump some money in her district in recent days.
- 11. Glenn Nye (VA-02): As much as Nye — another conservative freshman — has a claim to independence from his party leaders, and as much as he’s tried to run away from them, he can’t shake the Democratic label.
- 12. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01): This one’s heartbreaking for progressives. Shea-Porter, a sophomore member and a social worker by trade, supported the Democratic agenda in a mixed district (it went for Obama in ‘08 but for George W. Bush in ‘00 and ‘04). Her opponent is a Republican former mayor of Manchester.
- 13. Harry Teague (NM-02): Yet another freshman, Teague won an open seat in a Republican district in 2008, but now runs far behind the man who vacated that seat, former congressman Steve Pearce.
There are several other Democrats who have a high mountain to climb going into Tuesday’s elections. They include: John Boccieri (OH-16), Alan Grayson (FL-08), Paul Kanjorski (PA-11), Frank Kratovil (MD-01), Jim Marshall (GA-08), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), Scott Murphy (NY-20) John Spratt (SC-05), and Dina Titus (NV-03).
Likewise, a bunch of Dems from seats in conservative districts are retiring. Most of those will be picked up by Republicans. They include: Reps. Brad Ellsworth (IN-08), Bart Gordon (TN-06), Charlie Melancon (LA-03), Dennis Moore (KS-03), Vic Snyder (AR-02), and John Tanner (TN-08).
Republicans are also almost certain to win the vacant seat in New York’s 29th district.
Got all that?
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.