Sunday, March 9, 2008

All but Ignored: The 2008 Congressional Races

With all the attention given to the presidential race, the race for Congress has been all but ignored by the mainstream media.

To get a feel for how the fall congressional elections are going to play out, political scientists and pundits look to special elections as indicators of future election trends. We had one such special election yesterday in Illinois, where Republican Jim Oberweis lost the race for Illinois' 14th Congressional district to Democrat Bill Foster, 52% to 48%.

What makes this race an interesting bellwether for fall congressional elections is the fact this seat is a heavily Republican district that had been represented by none other than former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Given the resources that the Republican Party poured into keeping this seat in Republican hands AND the fact that the demographics greatly favored Republican candidates, this does not bode well at all for Republican chances to recapture the House. In fact, I would put their chances of so doing at less than 5 percent at this point. Given that Democrats captured all the competitive seats and some generally Republican seats in 2006, one might have expected that the pendulum would swing back to the GOP in 2008 when a presidential race would invigorate the base and move some of those seats back into the Republican column.

Given the heavy turnout in Democratic primaries around the country and the fact that Republicans can't keep a seat that they had held for 20 plus years, I would anticipate at this point that the Democrats will continue to build their House majority, capturing anywhere from 5 to 10 seats.

No comments: