The State of the Election: Southwest

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Arizona (10 electoral votes)

John McCain remains the favorite in his home state, but the contest has tightened. Several polls in the past week have pegged his lead at five points or less, and Barack Obama's campaign has begun to advertise in the state.

In the sprawling 1st District, Rep. Rick Renzi (R) is retiring as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges. Former state representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D) is considered the favorite to replace him over conservative activist Sydney Hay (R).

In the Phoenix-based 3rd District, Rep. John Shadegg (R) is facing a tougher-than-expected challenge from lawyer Bob Lord (D), though polls have shown Shadegg retaining a solid lead. Two Democratic freshmen, Harry E. Mitchell in the 5th District and Gabrielle Giffords in the 8th District, are now favored to retain their seats.

Oklahoma (7)

Polls show McCain leading by an average of roughly 30 points in the state, which President Bush won by more than 31 points in both 2004 and 2000.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R) is a strong favorite to win reelection against state Sen. Andrew Rice (D), boasting a double-digit lead in every publicly released survey. None of the state's five House incumbents faces a serious challenge.

Texas (34)

McCain will win Texas; the question is whether Republican Sen. John Cornyn's race against state Rep. Rick Noriega (D) will even be close. Cornyn is favored, but his victory does not appear assured.

Two House races bear watching. The suburban-Houston-based 22nd District looks to be one of the GOP's few genuine pickup opportunities in the nation. Rep. Nick Lampson (D) is trying to hold onto the Republican-leaning district formerly held by onetime House majority leader Tom DeLay (R), and the Democrat faces a well-funded challenge from ex-Senate aide Pete Olson (R).

Also in Houston, Rep. John Culberson (R) is favored to win reelection in the 7th District against energy executive Michael Skelly (D), though the last public survey pegged the incumbent's lead at seven points.

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