September 7, 2016 11:06 AM
Over at Politics4Tomorrow, Austin Wagner takes a look at which State House and State Senate districts might be most vulnerable to flip from Republican to Democrat and vice-versa. To determine the districts most likely to flip, he starts with a vulnerability index developed by the DailyKos to determine winnable U.S. house and senate races, and modifies it a bit to reflect state instead of federal races.
The index uses two factors: the margin between the candidates in the 2012 presidential race, which gives an ideal of the overall partisanship of the district, and the average margin between incumbent and challenger in the specific legislative district. These two factors are combined and ranked to come up with a final index, with the district with the lowest value being most vulnerable to a challenge by a Democrat, and the highest value being vulnerable to a challenge by a Republican.
Which are the most vulnerable Republican Senate districts for 2016? First would be Senate District 43 in Rockdale County, which Republican JaNice Van Ness won in a special election last year in a normally Democratic district. The rest of the top five include District 6, the Smyrna district represented by Hunter Hill; District 23, represented by Jesse Stone of Waynesboro; Valdosta’s District 8, represented by Ellis Black; and District 40 in Dunwoody, represented by Fran Millar.
Vulnerable Democratic seats, framed in this analysis as seats that need to be protected for future elections, are District 26, represented by David Lucas of Macon; District 42, the Atlanta district represented by Elena Parent; District 15, represented by Ed Harbison of Columbus; District 33 in Marietta, represented by “Doc” Rhett; and District 35, represented by Donzella James of Atlanta.
The Democrats’ target list in the House has seven districts. Most vulnerable for a takeover is House District 105 in Grayson, represented by Joyce Chandler. The other districts include District 138, the Americus district represented by Mike Cheokas; District 145, the currently open seat represented by Rusty Kidd of Milledgeville; District 111, the McDonough district represented by Brian Strickland; District 95 in Peachtree Corners, which is held by the retiring Tom Rice; District 151; the Cuthbert seat held by Gerald Greene; and District 101, the Lawrenceville seat represented by Valerie Clark.
The list of vulnerable Democratic House seats is headed by District 80, the Brookhaven district represented by Taylor Bennett; District 66, represented by Kimberly Alexander of Hiram; District 81 in Doraville, represented by Scott Holcomb; District 132, represented by Robert Trammell of Luthersville; and District 96, represented by Pedro Marin of Duluth.
Wagner’s analysis does not make any effort to analyze the strengths or weaknesses of individual candidates–it is strictly a mechanical exercise based on election results. Yet, it seems to do a decent job of determining the closest races, especially on the Republican side, which, because it is in the majority, will naturally have more opportunities for targeting. If you see any other races that are important, or any that are actually non-competitive, let us know in the comments.