Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 U.S House Special Elections

Please tune in to this blog later on this summer, in about a month, for a look at the Race of the Day, featuring every contest on the ballot this year for Governor or U.S. Senate.

In the meantime, it is necessary to take a quick look back at the recent U.S. House Special Elections and my somewhat subpar 2-2 predictions for this final batch. While two out of the 435 House seats will remain vacant until after the November election, there will not be any other special Election contests this year.

First the easy races:

I correctly predicted a Democrat win in FL 19 and a Republican win in GA 9. Both of those districts have a pretty big advantage for the victorious party. The contest in GA saw two Republicans advance to the runoff, as the sole Democrat was mired in the single digits. That first round of the race ended a bit of a frustrating losing streak for Republican candidates in House Special elections. Of course, we also have to remember the stunning Senate Special election for Republicans in Massachusetts.

The other two races I had predicted on April 11 would be tossups, and I picked the wrong party in each. However, I was very glad to be wrong about one of them, and in a way, it all evens out anyway.

In PA 12, a district that was narrowly won by John McCain, Democrats managed to salvage a victory in an election that was run concurrent with the statewide midterm primaries. The hottest contest in the state was the Democrat contest for U.S. Senate and that likely drove up turnout for that party. In addition, the Republican nominee for the special election was also facing a spirited primary challenge at the same time as he was facing his Democrat opponent. That made it more difficult in regards to the special election. Both candidates did capture their parties' nomination for November and it should be another close contest. If Republicans are to take over actual control of the House in November, this is probably a seat they will need to win. Incumbency typically helps special election winners, but with such an angry electorate, who really knows this year?

In HI 1, the district where President Obama was (allegedly?) born, and in which he received 70% of the vote in 2008, the seat embarassingly went to the Republicans in what has to be considered quite the development. I was glad to be wrong about having called it as a Tossup for the Democrats back in April, because due to Hawai'i's election laws, all the candidates were on the ballot, with only a plurality needed for victory. The Democrat vote split between two bitter party foes, and the highly touted Republican nominee earned a trip to Washington. The Democrats have now appeared to at last unify behind a candidate in November, and they feel that they can easily take this heavily Democrat district back in the general election. However, incumbents tend to dominate in Hawai'i politics and the new GOP Congressman should not be ruled out.