GOP House majority looks safe in Fix ratings

September 24, 2012

Democrats appear set to win a handful of House seats from Republicans this November, but at this point there is little reason to believe they are on track to winning back the majority.

According to The Fix's new House race ratings, Democrats currently have more opportunities for seat pick-ups than do Republicans.

As of right now, though, that advantage is pretty small, and it's offset by the fact that Republicans are favored to win seven Democratic-held districts -- a fact that will complicate the minority party's path to a majority.

Here's a look at the current state of play (a list of the most competitive races is at the bottom of this post).

On the continuum below, dark blue is "solidly Democratic," the next shade is "likely Democratic," light blue is "lean Democratic," yellow is tossup, the the red categories are similar to the blue categories, but for Republicans. The middle of the continuum shows you where each side needs to get in order to control the majority.

The ratings show Republicans currently favored to win 226 House seats, while Democrats are favored to win 182. The remaining 27 seats are considered pure toss-ups.

Even if Democrats won all 27 of those seats, they would still fall nine seats short of the majority. Which means, at this point, they need to pursue Republican-leaning seats if they want a shot at control.

The good news for Democrats is there are lots of seats in play --  20 GOP-held seats are listed as "lean Republican," while 20 more are listed as "likely Republican" but still are potentially competitive. Democrats will need to pick off about 10 of those seats to win a majority.

Conversely, if Republicans won all 27 toss-up districts, they would actually walk away from the 2012 election with an 11-seat gain and an even bigger majority. Clearly, there's also room for GOP gains if they play their cards right.

At this point, it's clear that Republicans will have to play more defense than offense; that's to be expected when you have your biggest majority in six decades.

But Republicans are mixing in plenty of offense, and right now, the race ratings suggest the GOP House majority is pretty safe, if not iron-clad.

Here's a smaller version of our competitive race chart. The full chart, which includes seats that are rated as "likely" going for either side can be found here.

(And a big thanks to Wilson Andrews and Serdar Tumgoren of the Post's always-great graphics team.)

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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