Special Election Results Suggest Local Races Are Very Competitive

Democrats won big in a special election in Illinois on Saturday, winning the congressional seat formerly held by GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert. This suggests a large national swing to Democrats at the congressional level. Especially around here. The Fix agrees,

Putting The Hastert Seat Loss in Context – The Fix: Those statistics got us to thinking about just how wide the Democratic target list could grow if the special election in Illinois was taken as a test case for the fall.

Looking for a way to compare apples to apples when it comes to congressional districts, we turned to our old friends at the Cook Political Report and their Partisan Voting Index (PVI). The PVI was developed by the folks at Cook in the summer of 1997 as a way of looking at measuring every district in the country against the nation as a whole. Each district was given a score — R+6, D+19 — that indicated how it performed on the presidential level when compared to the country. A score of R+6 means that the district performed six points more Republican than the country as a whole; conversely, a score of D+19 means the seat performed 19 points more Democratic than the nation. (A further explanation of PVI is behind the Cook Report's subscription wall so get one today!)

Illinois' 14th district has a PVI score of R+5. …

Florida boasts nine districts currently held by GOPers with PVI ratings between R 1 and R 5. Those nine districts are a mix of the once competitive (Florida's 8th and 12th), the occasionally competitive (Florida's 13th and 24th) and the never competitive (Florida's 5th, 7th, 15th, 18th and 25th.) Democrats have spent considerable time recruiting in Florida and are expected to put a number of these seats — including the 24th and 25th — in play this November.

But there's a fly in the ointment: Important local Democrats are too invested in being clubby with the GOP power structure — or with local sugar interests? — to give their all. Even local stars Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meeks are taking a pass on fighting for their party — and for Florida.

Not surprisingly, local activists and party workers are very unhappy.

I'm particularly disappointed in Wasserman Schultz on this one.

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