Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Control of the House after next Tuesday

Brett over at Majority in Mississippi is as about as knowledgeable a Republican you'll find in Mississippi political circles. He's got a post up today discussing the possibility of a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and it's fairly well on point, although I think he's giving Republicans a better chance of taking the House than is realistic. (He says 50/50, essentially.)

The way I see it, Republicans have a very steep hill to climb, and I think the reality of the situation is that they can't pull it off. Republicans would need to sweep virtually all of their targets, and I don't see that happening. They're coming strong after Rep. Brandon Jones (D-Pascagoula), and I've heard him called their "number 1 target." The problem there is that Jones is exceptionally well-liked in his district. He has been a rock for Pascagoula, and I don't see them voting him out in favor of Alabama businessman Charles Busby. Busby whiffed when he tried to go negative, and Jones' fundraisers have had some very impressive hosts from a cross-section of the Pascagoula political spectrum. In addition, Jones' strong spiritual background (Masters in Divinity from Wake Forest) and involvement in his church make him a popular guy amongst traditional Republican voters.

Another target the Republicans are aiming for is Sen. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), who is switching over to the House. Baria is running against Dorothy Wilcox for retiring House Speaker Pro Tempore J.P. Compretta's seat. Compretta, a Democrat, has served District 122 for 32 years, and is a beloved figure in his hometown. Compretta has endorsed Baria, which is huge. Additionally, Baria has served the voters of District 122 well for the last 4 years, and is a popular figure there. Baria is also a lion on insurance issues, and as a result was chosen to be on the Board of United Policyholders, an organization focused on insurance fairness and availability. In an area that is more focused on insurance policyholder issues than anywhere else, having a Representative on the right side of those issues is a big deal to voters.

On the Republican side, there are around 10 incumbent Republicans who face the very real possibility of defeat, meaning that any seats Republicans gain from Democrats will likely be offset by the loss of Republican incumbents.

The way I see it, Republicans may wind up with a net gain of 1-2 seats, which will leave them 7-8 votes shy of the majority in the House. If you'll recall, in 2007, Republicans were just as hungry to win control of the House and were unable to do so, even with the enormously popular Haley Barbour heading their ticket. Phil Bryant is nowhere near as popular as Barbour was, and the initiatives on this year's ballot will bring out voters from both camps equally.

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