When it comes to talking about the race in Pennsylvania-12 the media has discussed that it’s the only district McCain won and Bush did not in 2004. McCain had 5% less of the vote. So that’s not unexpected. In fact, the median change was McCain -5%, with 168 districts less than that, 56 at -5%, and 211 with McCain getting a lower share. There were only 26 districts where McCain actually got a higher share of the vote than Bush did.
1. McCain won 22 of the 26 districts, but there are 14 districts with a Democratic Congressman and 12 with a Republican. Democrats actually won 15, as Griffith (AL-5) switched parties.
2. The districts are heavily concentrated in certain states. He did better in all 5 Tennessee districts, all 4 Arkansas districts, 4 Louisiana districts, 3 Pennsylvania districts, 3 Massachusetts districts, 2 Alabama districts, 2 Oklahoma district, and 1 each in West Virginia and Kentucky.
3. McCain didn’t do better in any Arizona district
4. Some of the districts are very white. Before anyone cries racism consider that with Obama getting 96% of the Black vote it’s a lot less likely that he’d mitigate that.
5.In 8 of the 15 districts Democrats won there was no Republican on the ballet. That blows me away. Republicans are doing better and don’t field candidates. Republicans were 4 times more likely to not field a candidate in districts they’re getting more popular. It’s worth noting that only 1 of these races was competitive in 2004.
6. Of the 14 districts still represented by Democrats none were competitive, as the closest margin was 12 points.
7. Half of the 14 districts are open this election. In 5 of the 17 districts the Democrat retired. One is running for another office and John Murtha died. Only 4 other Democrats chose to retire. This is a bit too remarkable to be coincidence. McCain won 46 districts that Democrats won the House seat, but the far bigger factor in retirement is that he did better than Bush.
8. While none of the 14 districts were competitive in 2008 I rate 8 of them as flipping possibilities, with Tennessee-6 as a definite flip. I think the 3 with asterisks are safe, but others have them as possible flips. It makes you wonder about going unopposed even in a Democratic year.