In a previous posting, we used the following criteria to determine whether we think a Democratic held House seat is vulnerable or not:
(1) An Obama vote of 65% or less;
(2) (For incumbent Democrats), a 2008 re-election percentage of 65% or less;
(3) (For incumbent Democrats), his/her voting record on major legislation (the stimulus, “cap and trade”, raising the national debt ceiling, and the five healthcare votes taken). We believe that in general, voting against the Democratic agenda a majority of the time insulates an incumbent from defeat, unless the incumbent Democrat voted “Yes” at least once on healthcare reform;
(4) Whether the district has a significant Democratic base vote (minorities, academic liberals, Jewish voters, or government workers), as the “Obama plunge” so far has been with Republicans and Independents, and NOT with “base voters.”
In light of recent conduct by 4 year incumbent Congressmen Phil Hare (D-Illinois) and 14 year incumbent Bob Etheridge (D-North Carolina), we have decided to add a fifth category – “Congressmen/women behaving badly.” In other words, getting involved in altercations and/or threatening people does NOT play well with voters if it’s brought to their attention. With Rep Hare, a constituent enraged the Congressman when it was pointed out that he was falsely claiming to be a veteran. Not only did Rep. Hare demand to know the questioner’s name, but he directed an aide to follow the constituent out to his car to get his license plate number (apparently Rep. Hare’s daughter works for the DMV). Similarly, Rep. Etheridge was leaving a Pelosi findraiser, when two college students met up with him and asked him if he “fully supported the Obama agenda.” At that point, he assaulted one of the students, all the while demanding “who are you ?”
Given this additional criteria, we now believe that 79 Democrats and one Republican (Joseph Cao in New Orleans) are vulnerable. This means we are upping our projection of GOP House gains to 78 seats (Incidentally, both Reps. Etheridge and Hare voted 100% for the Democratic agenda, and their districts voted 53 and 57% for Obama, respectively).