National Journal published a list Wednesday of 75 U.S. House races expected to be most competitive in the coming election, and three PA districts made the ranks. District 12, 8, and 6 are ranked at No. 30, 39 and 68 respectively, and are among the districts deemed most likely to change partisan control.
However, analysts at National Journal said they are not expecting a political shift of the same magnitude that brought a GOP majority to the House in 2010; and despite newly drawn maps that marginally favor the right, two of the three PA incumbents who could lose their seats this season are Republicans.
In 2010, there were twice as many contentious U.S. House races in the state. As the political pendulum made a heavy swing rightward, the GOP flipped five (almost seven) House seats. All five of those seats were listed by the National Journal as likely to switch partisan control.
This year, the No. 1 PA race belongs to 12th district Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) and his GOP hopeful Keith Rothfus – they earned the highest ranking of any PA race due to what the National Journal has cited as growing hostility towards Dems in Western PA.
PoliticsPA recently reported on Critz’s shrinking six-point lead over his opponent, noting that the congressman has had to “fight hard to keep his seat.” Before Critz, the seat was in the hands of the late Rep. John Murtha, and therefore a Democratic stronghold for 36 years.
Following Murtha’s death, the GOP jumped at the possibility of flipping the seat, which would have been a boon to the party that few other victories could have matched. Instead, the district was redrawn to lean R, and many eyes are on PA-12, seeing whether it will swing red.
PA-08 is also on the Journal’s radar, due to the fact that Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick’s (R-Bucks) district is “one of several that will test whether Democrats can successfully exploit Ryan budget votes.” Q2 fundraising totals for PA-08 were indeed close, with Dem challenger Kathy Boockvar generating just $65k less than Fitzpatrick’s camp.
“Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) is another longtime Democratic target seemingly racing against time and the expansion of the Philadelphia suburbs,” the National Journal reported in conjunction with their ranking of PA-06. PoliticsPA is also expecting a close race in the SEPA district, in which congressional hopeful Manan Trivedi has more cash on hand ($527K) than any other Democratic challenger in PA.
The exactitude of the list will remain to be seen until post-Election Day, but if the accuracy of the 2010 list can be used as an indicator, incumbents on this season’s list ought to be wary.