Ranking Potential Flips for 2014 House Rematches

by Stuart Rothenberg May 8, 2013 · 12:06 PM EDT

It’s looking as if we may see more than a dozen House race rematches in 2014. While some of them are likely to have the same outcomes as in 2012, others could easily flip party control. Here is my initial list of potential rematch flips, with the first contests listed more likely to flip and the last ones less likely.

1. California’s 31st: Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller vs. Democrat Pete Aguilar
Aguilar didn’t make it to the November ballot last year because he placed third, against Miller and Republican Bob Dutton in the open primary. The mayor of Redlands is running again, and he has company, as former Rep. Joe Baca and attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes have also said that they are Democratic candidates. Given the seat’s Democratic bent, Miller will have a tough time one on one against a Democrat in the runoff in a district that went for President Barack Obama with 57 percent. So Aguilar’s challenge is to get into the November election against Miller.

2. Arizona’s 2nd: Democratic Rep. Ron Barber vs. Republican Martha McSally
Barber eked out a narrow victory (by 2,454 votes) last year, but the combination of an earlier start by McSally and a midterm electorate could well give Barber an even bigger headache in 2014. McSally looks to be no worse than even money to win the rematch next year.

3. North Carolina’s 7th: Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre vs. Republican David Rouzer
McIntyre held on in a very Republican district in 2012, but Rouzer is likely to run a better race this time, taking advantage of the midterm dynamic. And that’s a major problem for McIntyre, who proved his mettle in last year’s difficult environment for a moderate Democrat in the South.

4. Utah’s 4th: Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson vs. Republican Mia Love
While Love got plenty of publicity last cycle, GOP strategists were quite critical of her campaign and TV ads. For this run, she has hired veteran operative Dave Hansen, who guided Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s re-election race last time, to manage her campaign, which is likely to be much improved.

5. Minnesota’s 6th: Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann vs. Democrat Jim Graves
Bachmann won a squeaker in November (50.5 percent to 49.3 percent), and Democrat Graves has announced that he wants a rematch. There are rumors that the controversial congresswoman may retire rather than seek another term, but that probably would make Graves’ job harder in this reliably Republican district.

6. Massachusetts’ 6: Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney vs. Republican Richard Tisei
House veteran Tierney was regarded as a dead duck by many (including me) last time, but he squeezed out a narrow victory over Tisei, who is expected to make another run in 2014. The midterm dynamic could help the moderate, pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Republican, though you can bet the Democrats will once again try to lump him in with the tea party, as they did in 2012.

7. Illinois’ 10th: Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider vs. Republican Bob Dold
Dold has not yet announced that he will run again, but GOP insiders agree that he is looking closely at a possible rematch. Schneider drew 50.6 percent to Dold’s 49.4 percent (a margin of 3,326 votes), so it isn’t hard to see why the Republican would think his prospects would improve in a nonpresidential year.

8. New York’s 18th: Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney vs. Republican Nan Hayworth
Maloney used a late surge to defeat Hayworth after a single term, and the Republican recently filed for a rematch. Hayworth lost by just under 11,000 votes out of almost 277,000 cast for the two major party candidates, and she hopes the midterm electorate — and the absence of President Barack Obama on the ballot pulling Democratic voters to the polls — will help her win back her old seat.

9. Minnesota’s 2nd: Republican Rep. John Kline vs. Democrat Mike Obermueller
Democrats have a clear primary for Obermueller, a former state representative, and they are touting this as a race to watch. But Kline won by more than 29,000 votes (and 8 points), and while Obama won the district narrowly, there isn’t a lot of reason to assume that Obermueller will do dramatically better in 2014 than he did last year.

10. Illinois’ 17th: Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos vs. Republican Bobby Schilling
Schilling lost by about 19,000 votes (6.5 points) in this redrawn, reliably Democratic district. But the former congressman is apparently giving serious consideration to a rematch. Bustos ought not to underestimate the likable Schilling if he runs again, but the fundamentals of the district definitely favor the Democrat. The climb looks terribly steep for any Republican here, even Schilling.