Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not Every Vulnerable Candidate Folds And Joins The Enemy-- But A Lot Of Democrats Are Doing That


Sunday, Bill Jarman at Daily Kos created two charts of the most vulnerable Members of the House, a chart of Democrats (above) and a chart of Republicans (below). He combined data on the nature of their districts with data on how close their last race was to come up with his conclusions. I cut each chart off at the #25 most vulnerable. He explained his methodology by way of example:
Here's an example of how it works: Take, for instance, the Democratic House member that the Index deems most vulnerable, Jim Matheson of Utah's 4th congressional district. If you refer back to the earlier diaries, you'll see that he had the second-closest race of any House Democrat in 2012, winning against Mia Love by only 0.3 percent. And he has the reddest district of any House Democrat in 2012, as measured by the Cook Partisan Voting Index, clocking in at R+16 (thanks to Barack Obama getting only 30.2 percent of the vote there in 2012). Add together 2 (for the 2nd closest race) and 1 (for the 1st most red district), and you've got a total score of only 3 (a lower number means greater vulnerability). No other Democrat tops that, although Mike McIntyre, who had the closest race and is in the 3rd reddest district, NC-07, comes very close.
His fascinating post is mostly about methodology. I want to go someplace entirely different-- a place about... well, maybe character. Let me explain it and while I'm writing maybe I'll figure out what it's actually about. What I've done is made a list of the vulnerable candidates in accord with Jarman's calculations and then I compared them with each candidate's Progressive Punch crucial vote score. So what I want to see is if being vulnerable makes Democrats more or less progressive and if being vulnerable makes Republicans more or less reactionary. Let's look at the Republicans first, from most vulnerable to less vulnerable. The number next to their name is their 2013-only score. The names bolded and candidates the DCCC did not challenge in 2012 by spending serious money against them.

• Gary Miller- 4.55
Rodney Davis- 8.70
Mike Coffman- 0.00
Chris Gibson- 34.78
Jeff Denham- 0.00
Joe Heck- 8.70
Tom Lanham- 8.70
• Jon Runyan- 26.09
• Tom Reed- 18.18
• Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm- 42.11
Scott Rigell- 8.70
• John Kline- 0.00
• Lee Terry- 4.35
Dan Benishek- 0.00
• Fred Upton- 0.00
• Kerry Bentivolio- 4.35
• Mike Fitzpatrick- 13.04
Sean Duffy- 0.00
• Tim Walberg- 0.00
• Buck McKeon- 4.35
• David Valadao 0.00
• Justin Amash- 34.78
• Paul Ryan- 0.00
Jackie Walorski- 0.00
• Jim Gerlach- 8/70
So what do we see-- aside from the fact that DCCC Chairman Steve Israel threw the election by not going after over half the most vulnerable seats? Almost none of the Republicans are trying to come across as moderates or even mainstream with their votes. Ten of them have 0.00 scores and another 8 have less than 10. The only Republicans among Jarman's most vulnerable who have moved towards the mainstream at all are Chris Gibson (NY), Jon Runyan (NJ), Tom Reed (NY), and Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (NY). A note about Amash. His raw score looks like he could be moving but he's on Planet Justin and isn't trying to be moderate ever; he just marches to a different beat than anyone else. Now the Democratic list looks VERY different.
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog)- 21.74
Mike McInyre (Blue Dog/New Dem)- 40.91
Ron Barber (New Dem)- 39.13
Patrick Murphy (New Dem)- 47.83
Ann Kirkpatrick- 31.82
Pete Gallego (Blue Dog)- 52.17
Ami Bera (New Dem)- 47.83
John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem)- 47.83
Carol Shea-Porter- 77.27
Bill Owens (New Dem)- 39.13
Tim Bishop- 73.91
Nick Rahall- 65.22
Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem)- 43.48
Sean Maloney (New Dem)- 43.48
Raul Ruiz- 43.48
Scott Peters (New Dem)- 43.48
Elizabeth Esty (New Dem)- 68.18
John Tierney- 81.82
Ann Kuster- 43.48
Joe Garcia (New Dem)- 52.17
Bill Enyart- 47.83
Rick Nolan- 91.30
Julia Brownley- 52.17
Tim Walz- 52.17
Here we see a lot more craven cowardice. Five of them-- Matheson, McIntyre, Barber, Kirkpatrick and Owens-- might as well be taking orders directly from Eric Cantor. It's absurd to consider them Democrats at all. A whole gaggle of freshmen New Dems are virtually just casting votes exactly the way Steve Israel of the DCCC tells them to based on how he thinks-- a guy who's has been proven to be politically incompetent-- and have voting scores that have move very much to the right. The only Democratic incumbents voting with the courage of their convictions are Rick Nolan, John Tierney, Carol Shea-Porter, Tim Bishop and Nick Rahall.

I noticed Monday morning that far right-wing extremist Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is calling for the impeachment of President Obama. It doesn't matter how nihilistic and radical the congressmen get in deep red districts like UT-03. Romney won there with a startling 79-20% and Chaffetz was reelected 76-24%. The Hate Talk Radio-infused voters in this backward district expect this kind of behavior from Chaffetz. They're probably crazier than he is. Democrats in districts as deeply blue as that one is deeply red, don't elect left-wing extremists... or even, necessarily mainstream progressives. NC-12 went for Obama 79-21% in November. The folks there are represented by Mel Watt, a vaguely progressive middle-of-the-road Democrat. Any radical bone he ever had in his body has softened considerably with age. The DCCC has managed to control who gets nominated and that's why the freshman caucus is filled with conservative New Dems who vote with Republicans far more than Republicans cross the aisle in the other direction.

There are a lot of reasons these charts aren't predictive. The methodology is imperfect in regard to everything and some of these incumbents will have good opponents and some won't have any serious opponents at all. Steve Israel will continue protecting friends of his from the Center Aisle Caucus (like Upton). Some of these folks will raise immense sums of money and some won't raise enough to fend off determined challengers. Just another couple of factors to ponder.
Matheson & Nolan, respectively the most cowardly and the most courageous

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