Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
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Final House Predictions: The 20 Late Breakers

  • AZ-01 - Toss-up - Rep. Rick Renzi (R) will win reelection over Ellen Simon (D). The Crystal Ball knows that Renzi had no problem solidifying his base in the 2004 election, but it wasn't all that long ago he scored a narrow open seat victory in this marginal district. Renzi has received some bad press over the past few weeks concerning personal land dealings; the allegations won't be sorted out until after the election, but we still predict Renzi will escape with a narrow win. >>> Read more
  • CA-11 - Toss-up - Jerry McNerney (D) will unseat Rep. Richard Pombo (R). Our sources on the ground tell us that momentum is firmly in McNerney's court and that late campaign help from Bill Clinton and scores of environmental groups is giving Resources Committee Chair Pombo a run for his money. Schwarzenegger's get-out-the-vote operation may yet save Pombo, but we will go out on a limb and tap McNerney to win in an upset. >>> Read more
  • CO-04 - Toss-up - Angie Paccione (D) will unseat Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R). Musgrave has never performed as well as a Republican should in this district, and her staunch conservatism is probably the reason. Paccione has held her own in debates against Musgrave, berating her opponent's focus on a federal marriage amendment, and if there's any district the news of Pastor Haggard's hypocrisy could affect, it's this one. In this toxic year for Colorado Republicans, we think Paccione may well have the last-minute momentum to carry her across the finish line for the upset. But our sources tell us it's tight as a tick, and we could easily be proven wrong. >>> Read more
  • GA-12 - Toss-up - Rep. John Barrow (D) will win reelection over Max Burns (R). If the Crystal Ball had to pick one race in the country to be a GOP pickup on Election Night, this would be it. Burns has run a highly aggressive and effective campaign against the man who unseated him two years ago in a slightly more Democratic district, Georgia looks to be an exception to the national Democratic wave, and even independent observers acknowledge that a recent Bush rally here turned the tide in his favor. Democrats here express genuine concern about Barrow's ability to draw black voters to the polls in a non-presidential election year and worry that the substitution of rural counties for Barrow's liberal base of Athens in re-redistricting will work to his detriment. We cannot bring ourselves to bet against a Democratic incumbent who has fought back ably as Barrow has, but we would not be at all surprised to see Burns reclaim his seat tomorrow. >>> Read more
  • ID-01 - Toss-up - Larry Grant (D) will defeat Bill Sali (R). We recognize we are going severely against the grain in our prediction here, but we sense that the time is right for Idaho to finally elect a Democrat to, well, something. The mild-mannered Grant has used words from Sali's enemies within the GOP to great effect in television advertisements, and the polls continue to show many voters undecided. To win, Grant would have to run up the score in northern Idaho and Boise to offset 80 percent-performing GOP areas around Boise, but if there's any year this would happen, it would be 2006. Sali's Club for Growth conservatism has turned off many in his party, and we could easily be proven wrong if the GOP base comes home on Election Day, but what the heck, we'll pick the major upset anyway. What's life without a few major risks? >>> Read more
  • KS-02 - Toss-up - Rep. Jim Ryun (R) will win reelection over Nancy Boyda (D). Boyda was smart to seek a rematch against Ryun in a more favorable year, and several internal polls taken by both parties show her in poll position to erase her 12-point deficit from 2004. It is true that Democrat Kathleen Sebelius will likely win this district handily in her gubernatorial reelection bid. Still, we are doubtful that Ryun will go down; this is a reliably GOP district at the congressional level and Ryun does not appear to have made any glaring errors. >>> Read more
  • MN-01 - Toss-up - Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) will win reelection over Tim Walz (D). A favorite of DFL party activists, the veteran Walz has stirred up the liberal base in southern Minnesota enough to put this race on everyone’s map. Republicans are headed for a potentially very bad year in Minnesota, and though we believe Gutknecht has compiled a record sufficiently moderate for political survival, Gutknecht could find himself swept away if the national Democratic wave hits high enough to put Democratic gains above 30 seats. >>> Read more
  • MN-06 - Toss-up - Patty Wetterling (D) will defeat Michele Bachmann (R). >>> Read more
  • NH-02 - Toss-up - Rep. Charlie Bass (R) will win reelection over Paul Hodes (D). >>> Read more
  • NY-20 - Toss-up - Rep. John Sweeney (R) will win reelection over Kirsten Gillibrand (D). >>> Read more
  • NY-26 - Toss-up - Jack Davis (D) will unseat Rep. Tom Reynolds (R). >>> Read more
  • WI-08 - Toss-up - Steve Kagen (D) will defeat John Gard (R). >>> Read more
  • Final House Predictions: The Rest

  • AZ-05 - Toss-up - Harry Mitchell (D) will unseat Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R). Democrats are betting heavily that a late push in Arizona can put many of their candidates over the top. Mitchell has received some high-profile Republican endorsements, and seems to have the momentum in what has become a very ugly race. We'll pick Mitchell to pull the upset by a hair. >>> Read more
  • AZ-08 - Likely Dem - Gabrielle Giffords (D) will defeat Randy Graf (R). Despite late talk of a Graf comeback, it's obvious that both national parties gave up on this race long ago, thanks to Graf's very hard-right views and Giffords's personal appeal. Democrats can count on this seat as one of their three likeliest pickups in the country. >>> Read more
  • CA-04 - Leans GOP - Rep. John Doolittle (R) will win reelection over Charlie Brown (D). Doolittle's ethical troubles have been the linchpin of Brown's campaign in this very reliably Republican northern California district, but we don't think the damage to Doolittle have been severe enough to cost him his seat this year. >>> Read more
  • CA-50 - Leans GOP - Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) will win reelection over Francine Busby (D). Is it possible that Busby could win this match-up against Bilbray the one time out of three she wasn't really even trying? We doubt it, but the year is bad enough for the GOP to continue to keep an eye on the results here. >>> Read more
  • CO-05 - Leans GOP - Doug Lamborn (R) will defeat Jay Fawcett (D). Could the Haggard scandal depress fundamentalist evangelical turnout in its home base? It's possible, but we believe Fawcett's insurgency scared the GOP here into action in time for Election Day, and we would be very surprised to see this 66 percent GOP seat fall the way of the Democrats, though we know retiring Rep. Joel Hefley would not be all too disappointed to see it happen. >>> Read more
  • CO-06 - Likely GOP - Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) will win reelection over Bill Winter (D). The rest of the nation has trouble understanding why this exurban Colorado district sends hardcore anti-immigration leader Tancredo to Washington every two years, but he remains popular at home. It's a rough year for Colorado Republicans, and the Haggard scandal may depress GOP turnout slightly, so we wouldn't be surprised to see Tancredo's percentage fall to the mid-50's. >>> Read more
  • CO-07 - Likely Dem - Ed Perlmutter (D) will defeat Rick O'Donnell (R). Democrats did a very good job at putting this district away early by painting O'Donnell as a far-out ideologue who once proposed doing away with Social Security. It's likely that Perlmutter will prevail by more than a few points in what was originally supposed to be a tooth and nail fight to the finish. >>> Read more
  • CT-02 - Toss-up - Joe Courtney (D) will unseat Rep. Rob Simmons (R). Remember where the closest House race was located in the 1994 GOP wave election? If you guessed eastern Connecticut, you're a winner: Sam Gejdenson (D) "secured" a 21-vote victory over Ed Muenster that year. It's entirely possible that a similar scenario will unfold yet again this year, and if we had to pick one Republican to survive in Connecticut, it would be Simmons. We're going to go with Courtney, but it's a pure guess. >>> Read more
  • CT-04 - Toss-up - Diane Farrell (D) will unseat Rep. Christopher Shays (R). This race may win the award for becoming the nation's media darling for purposes of gauging voter attitudes about Iraq, but we believe Shays' change of stance on the issue probably came too late to save his career as the top maverick of the GOP House conference. >>> Read more
  • CT-05 - Toss-up - Chris Murphy (D) will unseat Rep. Nancy Johnson (R). Johnson recognized this challenge soon, and reacted toughly from the start. She has spent more money to defend this seat than nearly all incumbents, but her problem might be that she attacked Murphy too harshly in a recent ad; her caricature of Murphy going door-to-door sympathizing with drug dealers may have backfired, and we would be surprised to see her prevail against the former campaign manager of the woman who nearly beat her ten years ago. >>> Read more
  • FL-08 - Likely GOP - Rep. Ric Keller (R) will win reelection over Charlie Stuart (D). Sure, Stuart received endorsements from several GOP officials and the Orlando-based district's demographics are shifting in the Democrats' favor, but Keller has won convincingly since his open seat victory six years ago, and does not look particularly vulnerable to a wave this year. >>> Read more
  • FL-09 - Likely GOP - Gus Bilirakis (R) will defeat Phyllis Busansky (D). Busansky turned out to be one of the Democrats' better open seat fundraisers of 2006, but this race never really materialized as a takeover opportunity akin to the one we now see in the 13th District to the South. Thanks to solid name recognition and a solid GOP bent, this seat looks likely to stay in the Bilirakis family. >>> Read more
  • FL-13 - Likely Dem - Christine Jennings (D) will defeat Vern Buchanan (R). Attacks on Buchanan's business dealings have likely taken too great a toll on the self-funding Republican, as most surveys show Jennings with a clear lead heading into the homestretch. Jennings has run a solid campaign, while Buchanan never seemed to recover from the tough GOP primary. >>> Read more
  • FL-16 - Toss-up - Tim Mahoney (D) will defeat Joe Negron (R). A recent trip to Florida convinced us: if either one of the "post-scandal special ballot circumstances" districts (this one and Tom DeLay's TX-22) sees a surprise GOP upset, the Crystal Ball bets Negron will prevail. Still, even though we give Negron's campaign the award for best slogan of the 2006 campaign-"Punch Foley for Joe"-we'll bet the stigma of Foley's name on the ballot will leave Negron just short of an upset victory in 2006. If that happens, we'll be looking forward to the Mahoney-Negron rematch in 2008. >>> Read more
  • FL-22 - Toss-up - Ron Klein (D) will unseat Rep. Clay Shaw (R). This race will go down as one of the most expensive of 2006, and both men have run impressive and vigorous campaigns. We'll bet Klein prevails in this Democratic year and sends Shaw into retirement two years early. >>> Read more
  • GA-08 - Leans Dem - Rep. Jim Marshall (D) will win reelection over Mac Collins (R). Despite the new district's shape, Collins has not succeeded in moving the race in his favor. Both candidates are established figures in the region, but Marshall's moderate reputation and incumbency favor his reelection. The real comeback race seems to be to the East, in the 12th District. >>> Read more
  • IA-01 - Leans Dem - Bruce Braley (D) will defeat Mike Whalen (R). Both men have impressed us in debates and frankly, for unelected officials, both strike us as some of the better candidates running for Congress this year. That said, this district is fundamentally Democratic, and we would be surprised to see Whalen hold it for his party tomorrow. >>> Read more
  • IA-02 - Leans GOP - Rep. Jim Leach (R) will win reelection over Dave Loebsack (D). Leach's problem isn't a strong challenger; it's the fact that he is a perennially uninterested fundraiser in one of the most Democratic districts in the country still held by a Republican. College professor Loebsack has received some considerable grassroots support, but we pick the moderate Leach to win yet another term by at least several points. >>> Read more
  • IA-03 - Leans Dem - Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) will win reelection over Jeff Lamberti (R). The greatest obstacle to reelection for Boswell over the course of this cycle has been his health, but he has run an energetic campaign this fall and we simply doubt Lamberti will be able to topple him in a Democratic year. >>> Read more
  • IL-06 - Toss-up - Tammy Duckworth (D) will defeat Peter Roskam (R). The late trend-line in this long-deadlocked race is slightly in Duckworth's favor, and it's clear her personal story and credibility on Iraq has offset the district's fundamental Republican lean. Roskam could still pull it out, but we'll say it's Duckworth by a smidgen. >>> Read more
  • IL-08 - Leans Dem - Rep. Melissa Bean (D) will win reelection over David McSweeney (R). Republicans complain that the survey data in this race has left out anti-war Independent Bill Scheurer, but Bean's lead on the average has been large enough that we don't think Scheurer's impact will be enough to matter. She has made all the right moves in this moderate-to-conservative district, and we believe she will win a second term by several points. >>> Read more
  • IL-10 - Leans GOP - Rep. Mark Kirk (R) will win reelection over Dan Seals (D). If there's a moderate GOP incumbent in the Land of Lincoln that knows how to win in a tough year, it is Kirk, but even Republicans admit Seals' challenge has been stronger than expected. We still pick Kirk to win, but he will likely see his margin cut to the smallest it has been since his first victory in 2000 over Lauren Beth Gash. >>> Read more
  • IN-02 - Leans Dem - Joe Donnelly (D) will unseat Rep. Chris Chocola (R). If there's one candidate in the country who could still win after never having led in a single poll all election cycle, it's Chris Chocola. We hear his get-out-the-vote operation is strong, but in the end, we believe that the double whammy of severe state AND federal GOP unpopularity-not to mention local controversies over time zones and toll roads-will be too much for Chocola to overcome. We believe Donnelly will prevail in a closer-than-expected race. >>> Read more
  • IN-03 - Likely GOP - Rep. Mark Souder (R) will win reelection over Tom Hayhurst (D). This Fort Wayne-based district emerged on Democrats' radar screen very late in the cycle, but the toxic political environment for Indiana Republicans led more than a few strategists to wonder if more GOP targets in the Hoosier State couldn't be identified. Souder has won with solid margins in this solidly GOP district, but his win percentage could be cut substantially in this year's race against the veteran and local official Hayhurst. >>> Read more
  • IN-07 - Likely Dem - Rep. Julia Carson (D) will win reelection over Eric Dickerson (R). We didn't add this district to our list in response to any polls that emerged recently showing the race to be close; we added it because national Democrats' anxieties in response led them to mount an attack mail piece against Dickerson that some speculators in the district found to contain over-the-top allegations against his personal history. Carson has consistently underperformed in this reliably Democratic district, and if Indiana voters are in a "throw the bums out" mood tomorrow, her margin of victory could drop to the high single digits. >>> Read more
  • IN-08 - Likely Dem - Brad Ellsworth (D) will unseat Rep. John Hostettler (R). A non-traditional campaigner who has always squeaked by through word of mouth and on a shoestring budget, Hostettler has finally met his match in Ellsworth. The national GOP's abandonment of Hostettler may be intended to make a national example out of Ellsworth; the message is: if you do not fundraise for yourself, do not expect us to come in and save you. >>> Read more
  • IN-09 - Toss-up - Baron Hill (D) will unseat Rep. Mike Sodrel (R). Who will win this best of three series? We'll put a thumb on the scale for Hill, who has worked hard and run a determined campaign to reclaim his seat after taking his 2004 loss to Sodrel personally. Of the three Indiana Republicans, Sodrel is most likely to narrowly escape defeat, but that's about the most we can say in his favor. >>> Read more
  • KY-02 - Leans GOP - 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. >>> Read more
  • KY-03 - Toss-up - 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% 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. >>> Read more
  • KY-04 - Toss-up - 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. >>> Read more
  • LA-03 - Likely Dem - Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) will win reelection over Craig Romero (R). The race in the Bayou of southeastern Louisiana has been remarkably quiet, which is excellent news for the incumbent, Melancon. Sources tell us he continues to benefit from a post-Katrina "halo effect," and we expect him to prevail on Election Day without the need for a December runoff. >>> Read more
  • MI-07 - Likely GOP - Tim Walberg (R) will defeat Sharon Renier (D). Is it possible Walberg alienated enough Republicans in his successful primary defeat of incumbent GOP moderate Joe Schwarz that he could face trouble in a general election? We doubt it, but allegations of sexual misconduct against a Walberg staffer certainly don't' help his chances against an unknown and under-funded Democrat whose only hope of winning lies in claiming a substantial share of disgruntled GOP votes. >>> Read more
  • MN-02 - Likely GOP - Rep. John Kline (R) will win reelection over Coleen Rowley (D). This race dropped off nearly everyone's radar screen early on in the cycle, but Rowley's name recognition as a 9/11 FBI whistleblower might yet hold Kline to a single-digit win. >>> Read more
  • NM-01 - Toss-up - Patricia Madrid (D) will unseat Heather Wilson (R). >>> Read more
  • OH-01 - Toss-up - Rep. Steve Chabot (R) will win reelection over John Cranley (D). >>> Read more
  • OH-02 - Toss-up - Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) will win reelection over Victoria Wulsin (D). >>> Read more
  • OH-15 - Toss-up - Mary Jo Kilroy (D) will unseat Rep. Deborah Pryce (R). >>> Read more
  • TX-22 - Toss-up - Nick Lampson (D) will defeat Shelly Sekula-Gibbs (R). >>> Read more
  • PA-08 - Toss-up - Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) will win reelection over Patrick Murphy (D). >>> Read more
  • VA-02 - Toss-up - Rep. Thelma Drake (R) will win reelection over Phil Kellam (D). >>> Read more
  • WA-08 - Toss-up - Rep. Dave Reichert (R) will win reelection over Darcy Burner (D). >>> Read more
  • Post date: 2006-11-06 00:00:00
    Post date GMT: 1970-01-01 04:59:59

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