Bloomberg News

What to Watch Tonight: U.S. House

November 06, 2012

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) - Democrats probably will pick up a handful of seats tonight, with Republicans keeping control of the House.

Don’t look for any shakeups at the top; as long as the Democratic Party’s gains are small, John Boehner and Eric Cantor can expect another two years as speaker and majority leader.

Nathan Gonzales, an analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report, sees Democrats winning as many as eight -- far short of the 25 needed to regain control of the chamber. “We don’t expect Democrats to take the majority,” he said.

Tonight’s election is shaping up to produce perhaps 80 freshmen. That’s because there are 39 districts where the incumbent isn’t running, 19 newly created seats as a result of redistricting and four vacancies.

Another 20 incumbents could lose their re-election bids, said David Wasserman, a campaign analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. “We won’t see very much partisan change, but it’s far from a status-quo election,” he said.

Keep an eye on:

-- Incumbents in Tough Races: Tea Party favorites Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Allen West of Florida and Steve King of Iowa, all Republicans, and Californian Pete Stark, the fourth- longest serving Democrat, could be ousted in what has become a generational contest.

California has adopted a new “open primary” election system in which the top two vote getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. Stark, 80, could be taken out by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, 31.

-- Incumbent-Versus-Incumbent: In Iowa, redistricting has thrown Democrat Leonard Boswell and Republican Tom Latham in the same district. In Ohio, Republican Jim Renacci and Democrat Betty Sutton are facing off. In California, Democrats Brad Sherman and Howard Berman are pitted against each other while Louisiana Republicans Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry are fighting over the same seat.

-- Comebacks: Fiery Floridian Alan Grayson, who was defeated in 2010, probably will win a newly created district near Orlando. Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat who was defeated after a single term, is poised to win a Las Vegas-area district. Democratic ex-members Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dan Maffei in New York are in some of the nation’s tightest House races.

-- Gay Candidates: Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin could become the first openly gay senator. There are four openly gay members of the House, including Baldwin and retiring Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank. That total could increase in the 113th Congress.

-- Blue Dog Democrats: The ranks of the Democratic Party’s fiscal moderates have been depleted in recent years. Utah’s Jim Matheson could be the next to go. His challenger, Mia Love, is vying to become the House’s first black female Republican. Other Blue Dogs in tough races include John Barrow of Georgia, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Joe Baca of California and Ben Chandler of Kentucky.

-- Scandal Survival: Tennessee Republican Scott DesJarlais is fighting for re-election after a recording emerged of the physician trying to persuade a patient with whom he had an affair to have an abortion.

In California, Democrat Laura Richardson is waging an uphill battle for another term after she was reprimanded by the House for a series of ethics violations.

In Florida, Republican David Rivera is running for re- election amid what the Miami Herald reports is an FBI investigation into whether he illegally financed a primary challenge to one of his Democratic opponents.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Faler in Washington at bfaler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo5@bloomberg.net


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