Sabato's Crystal Ball

House Ratings Changes

Isaac Wood, House Race Editor September 9th, 2010

GA-2 (Sanford Bishop-D): After nearly two decades in Congress in a Southwest Georgia district that is nearly 50% African-American, Democrat Sanford Bishop was not exactly at the top of many Republican target lists. Given the Republican wave that seems to be brewing, however, and the potential for a greatly diminished minority turnout in 2010, he suddenly is in a fight for his political life. State legislator Mike Keown will be the GOP standard-bearer and he should be able to keep up financially with Bishop, who had just $400,000 in the bank at the end of June. In a midterm year, and especially this one, Bishop could be vulnerable, so we are moving this from Safe Democratic to LIKELY DEMOCRATIC.

KY-3 (John Yarmuth-D): This race has been something of a sleeper, as Democrats felt incumbent John Yarmuth could hold his own in a district that usually goes slightly Democratic in presidential years. In a midterm year, however, the two-term congressman could be endangered as a new SurveyUSA poll indicated, showing Yarmuth with just a two-point advantage, 47%-45%. Yarmuth’s GOP opponent is Todd Lally, a veteran of the war in Iraq, who Republicans think can capitalize on the frustration with DC and his own outsider profile, coupled with Tea Party support. Although this race may not be as close as the recent poll suggested, we are moving this race from Safe Democratic to LIKELY DEMOCRATIC.

OR-5 (Kurt Schrader-D): Add Kurt Schrader to the growing list of seriously endangered Democratic freshmen. Oregon’s most even battleground district could witness a party change in November as recent polling from both parties shows Schrader with under 50% of the vote in head-to-head matchups against state legislator Scott Bruun, the GOP nominee. As both sides agree that this is set to be a barnburner, we are changing our rating from Likely Democratic to the more competitive LEANS DEMOCRATIC.

WA-2 (Rick Larsen-D): Close watchers of this race will have read this story before. In August, Republican John Koster pulled more votes in the all-party primary than Democrat Rick Larsen, just as he did in his 2000 bid for the seat. The bad news for Koster? In the 2000 general election, Larsen rebounded, defeating Koster 50%-46%. The good news for Koster? A poll last week from SureveyUSA showed him leading Larsen by that exact margin, 50%-46%. The district is slightly Democratic at the presidential level and Larsen has a moderate voting record, but if the electorate is decidedly more conservative than in 2000, as now seems likely, a reversal of that year’s outcome is possible. For the moment, we will take this race from Safe Democratic to LIKELY DEMOCRATIC.

NY-19 (John Hall-D): Former rock band singer John Hall may need to expand his repertoire to include the blues. Elected in 2006 to a battleground district with a slight Republican tilt, this will be his first election battle with the national winds blowing against him, instead of at his back. Republicans have nominated Nan Hayworth, who captured the Independence Party ballot line for the November general election and actually has more money in her campaign coffers than does Hall, due in no small part to the over half a million dollars she has loaned to her own campaign. As this race heats up, the economy sours, and Hall’s past advantages melt away we move this race from Likely Democratic to the hotly-contested LEANS DEMOCRATIC.