Friday, August 11, 2006

Walsh Checking His Pants?

From Charlie Cook's Column (subscription required):

I received an e-mail from a friend who is a senior national political correspondent for a major national newspaper: "If I were an incumbent with the least bit of worries, I'd be pooping my pants.

"That earthy observation was the most thoughtful take I heard, even though incumbents' losing primaries is nothing new. Indeed, in nonredistricting years over the past two decades, an average of two House members have failed to win renomination -- exactly where we are today with the McKinney and Schwarz losses. Among senators, primary defeats are rarer; the losers tend to be appointees.

But even though it's not unheard-of for primary voters to hand members of Congress their walking papers, this year's primary results -- combined with Congress's abysmal job-approval ratings and extremely high "wrong track" numbers -- indicate a very volatile, turbulent election year, the kind that incumbents hate for good reason. The advantages of incumbency count for less in such years.

The tide in favor of Democrats this year means that very few Democratic incumbents are facing strong challengers. The Cook Political Report no longer rates the contest of any House Democrat as a toss-up. Ten Republican House members are in that category.

In the current political environment, I would much rather be one of the eight House Democrats in the "lean Democratic" category than one of the 17 House Republicans whose races "lean Republican."

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