Assessing the House in the 2014 Election Cycle


The US Senate races are rightly attracting almost all of the attention during the early portion of the 2014 election cycle, as minimal action is occurring in House campaigns. Right now, the Republicans appear poised to hold their majority, and may be more likely to add a small number of seats.

Comparing the 2014 House lineup to what we saw during the last cycle yields a much different situation. Due to reapportionment, redistricting, and retirements, no fewer than 62 seats were open for the last campaign. Today, we look at only 17 vacated districts in the current cycle, three of which will be decided in special elections before 2013 ends.

Seats projected as toss-ups are way down, too. Right now, only seven races appear as pure toss-ups – five currently held by Democratic House members compared with only two majority Republican controlled districts.

The pair of Republican toss-ups are:

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller
CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman

The five Democratic toss-ups are:

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber
CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters
FL-26: Rep. Joe Garcia
NC-7: Rep. Mike McIntyre
UT-4: Rep. Jim Matheson

Overall, according to our PRIsm Information Network race tracking scoreboard, here’s how we have things lining up:

It appears there are 154 Safe Republican seats, 59 Likely Republican districts, and 19 Lean Republican campaigns for a grand total of 232 contests today headed toward the GOP.

For the Democrats, 163 seats are categorized as Safe, only 15 as Likely Democrat, and 18 as Lean Democrat, for a grand total of 196 districts in the Democratic stable. Adding the seven toss-up seats brings us to our grand total of 435.

In the open seat category, 10 are Republican departures and seven are Democratic.

The 17 open seats are:

AL-1: Vacant – Special Election – Rep. Jo Bonner (R) accepted state position
AR-4: Rep. Tom Cotton (R) – Running for Senate
CA-45: Rep. John Campbell (R) – Retiring
GA-1: Rep. Jack Kingston (R) – Running for Senate
GA-10: Rep. Paul Broun (R) – Running for Senate
GA-11: Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) – Running for Senate
HI-1: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) – Running for Senate
IA-1: Rep. Bruce Braley (D) – Running for Senate
LA-5: Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) – Accepting state position
LA-6: Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) – Running for Senate
ME-2: Rep. Mike Michaud (D) – Running for Governor
MA-5: Vacant – Special Election – Rep. Ed Markey (D) elected to Senate
MI-14: Rep. Gary Peters (D) – Running for Senate
MN-6: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) – Retiring
NC-12: Rep. Mel Watt (D) – Awaiting confirmation for federal appointment
PA-13: Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) – Running for Governor
WV-2: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) – Running for Senate

Of these 17, only two are pure retirements. Ten have either already been elected to the Senate in a special election or are running for the statewide position. Two have accepted positions within their respective state governments or university system. A pair of House Democrats are running for governor, and one awaits confirmation to a federal appointment. Interestingly, none of the open seats are rated as toss-ups.

The Supreme Court decision changing the Voting Rights Act could still conceivably affect two states in 2014: Florida and Arizona. Both feature live redistricting litigation that could lead to a full state re-draw, though the more time that passes suggests the earliest a map change in either place would occur is 2016. The North Carolina redistricting case will be finalized with a state Supreme Court ruling sometime next year. All signs, based upon a special three judge state panel ruling, indicate that the current NC congressional map will remain intact throughout the decade.

Looking at the macro House picture, it appears that both parties stand to gain or lose seats only in the single-digits so, despite what has been a contentious 113th Congress, the body is politically stable.

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