Sabatos Crystal Ball

Kansas Races

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Kentucky (02)

Outlook: Leans Republican


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Ron Lewis (R) won reelection over Mike Weaver (D) with 55% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Ron Lewis (R) will win reelection over Mike Weaver (D). Democrats contend that Weaver has pulled within striking distance of Lewis, but if voters in red territory are coming home to the GOP late, we bet Lewis will be one of the primary beneficiaries; this district’s deep conservatism will likely prove too much for Weaver.


Background

Conservative GOP Rep. Ron Lewis has not faced a close race since he won this Western Kentucky district in a 1994 special election, a pickup for his party that foreshadowed GOP gains later that year. This year, Army veteran and Democratic State Rep. Mike Weaver will present the most serious competition Lewis has faced since then. Though this has become a heavily Republican district, the Crystal Ball still recalls when it was represented by Democrat William Natcher, and Weaver could conceivably make this a race.

Candidates

Mike Weaver (I) – Democrat – Total Raised: $751,237.34 | Total Spent: $594,638.45
Website

Ron Lewis (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,404,547.99 | Total Spent: $1,192,630.84
Website

Kentucky (03)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

John Yarmuth defeated Rep. Anne Northup (R) with 51% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Anne Northup (R) will win reelection over John Yarmuth (D).We are genuinely torn on this race. There are signs Northup is very worried about her reelection prospects; exhibit A is her recent call for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation in this Kerry-carried Louisville district. But Yarmuth isn’t a much stronger candidate than the one Democrats fielded in 2004, when she won convincingly with over 60 percent of the vote. Polls show Yarmuth taking a narrow lead, but Northup is one of the savviest GOP campaigners in the House, and we’ll bet she still finds a way to win.


Background

Is GOP Rep. Anne Northup out of the woods following her impressive breakthrough showing in the the 2004 election? Although it’s true that she outperformed Bush’s percentage at the top of the ticket by double digits two years ago in this Louisville Metro-contained district, a new Democratic poll suggests that she’s vulnerable this year to a challenge from Democratic newspaper publisher John Yarmuth; the July Cooper & Secrest survey shows Yarmuth within the margin of error. We have a hard time buying it at all, but it won’t hurt Yarmuth’s efforts to catch up to Northup in the money chase.

We’ve had a hard time deciding between this urban race and the rural race in the 2nd District as to which seat Bluegrass State Democrats have a more legitimate shot at capturing, but lately, the Crystal Ball has been slightly more inclined to pick this Kerry-carried district. Still, Northup has maintained good relations with several Democratic officials in the district, and retains a clear edge despite the fact that scandal-tarred GOP Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s approval ratings here are nothing short of disastrous.

Candidates

Anne Northup (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $2,883.846.50 | Total Spent: $2,162,390.92
Website

John Yarmuth – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,158,903.12 | Total Spent: $1,512,599.74

Kentucky (04)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Geoff Davs won reelection over Ken Lucas (D) with 51% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Ken Lucas (D) will unseat Rep. Geoff Davis (R). Of all the Kentucky districts, the Crystal Ball still foresees that Democrats’ best pickup opportunity lies in deeply red northern Kentucky. Lucas hasn’t shown the fire in the belly many in his party would have liked, and his fundraising has been dismal. But the former Blue Dog representative remains well-liked among older voters, and both state and national Republicans are in a slump. We’ll say Lucas wins a nail-biter, but we would not be shocked to see Davis win a second term.

September 26, 2006 Update:

A recent SurveyUSA poll places incumbent Republican U.S. Rep Geoff Davis ahead of Democratic challenger Ken Lucas by 4 percent. However, 8 percent of the 427 likely voters polled were undecided, and the lead was within the polls 4.8 percent margin of error. However, Lucas’ camp disputes the poll, claiming that according to their polling they have a double-digit lead. By all measures, this race is far from over.

Lucas continues to portray himself as a moderate who voted for the War in Iraq, opposes any exit timetable, and is anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment. Davis has emphasized his ability to bring federal revenue into Kentucky’s 4th, and has out-raised Davis significantly. However, the DCCC will augment Lucas’ financial standing by spending $2.7 million in television advertising. Both sides have received prominent figures to help them in their fundraising efforts. Senator Barack Obama visited Kentucky on September 14 while President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visited earlier in the year.

The main issues of the race have been reflected in recent television and radio advertisements. Both parties have attacked each other as soft on immigration, military readiness, and predatory payday lending to soldiers; debates are scheduled for Oct. 19, Oct. 23 and Nov. 4.

Alexander Covington, Crystal Ball Mid-Atlantic Regional Correspondent

June 29, 2006 Update:

Scandal-plagued GOP Kentucky Gov. Ern
ie Fletcher’s
popularity is in the gutter, and former Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas’s fundraising has been decent for a challenger. It would be hard to believe this race is anything other than a toss-up these days, and our rating has shifted to reflect that.

February 8, 2006 Update:

Of all truly competitive House races, we’ll probably know the results of this Bluegrass rematch first. But bellwether-watchers beware, this contest is unique. Northern Kentucky is some of the nation’s most deeply red suburban an exurban territory, and former Blue Dog Rep. Ken Lucas will need to capitalize on his personal popularity in addition to lingering voter bitterness towards state-level GOP scandal to oust the incumbent Geoff Davis, who was Lucas’s challenger just four years ago.


February 2006 Outlook:

The northern Kentucky bluegrass has been looking politically redder with each passing year, a trend that was on display when freshman GOP Rep. Geoff Davis bested his Democratic rival, anchorman and movie star dad Nick Clooney, by a wider-than-expected 54 to 44 percent margin in the 2004 open seat race here. Nonetheless, Democrats are understandably excited about the last month’s entrance of the only person who could possibly put this district in play in 2006, popular former Rep. Ken Lucas. They claim the 72 year-old Lucas’s decision to give it another go this year represents a unique recruiting coup and that Lucas will be able to raise all the money he needs to communicate his message critical of Washington scandal.

Interestingly, 2006 will not mark the first time these two candidates have met in this district. Lucas, who built a reputation as a very conservative Democrat over his three terms in Congress, fended off a 2002 challenge from Davis by just over 6,000 votes, or around 3 percent. But several factors make this rematch a vastly different ballgame, and we’ll attempt to frame it in terms of some Crystal Ball calculus. Both Davis’s two-year incumbency and the changing demographics within this district (it voted for Bush by 24 points in 2000 and by 27 points in 2004 largely thanks to growth in overwhelmingly GOP Boone County in the outer Cincinnati exurban ring) would by themselves be sufficient to erase Lucas’s 6,000 vote lead from 2002. The question then becomes, will the electoral atmosphere in northern Kentucky be sufficiently hospitable to Democrats in November to give Lucas a shot?

To have a chance, Lucas must both demonstrate he still has the fire in the belly to serve in Congress and succeed in making this race as much of a personal popularity contest as it can be. Still, you can bet Davis will seek to tie his opponent to his party label at every turn, and we give the freshman Republican an early leg up.

Candidates

Ken Lucas (I) – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,280,425.94 | Total Spent: $1,052,538.19
Website

Geoff Davis (I) – Republican – Third Quarter Raised: $853,134.06 | Cash on Hand: $1,645,314.06
Website