I saw this article in the JI this afternoon about another state representative running unchallenged, and it made me think about those sorts of seats. Not just seats where there aren’t two major party candidates, but “safe” districts all across the state.
The natural question popped into my head–just how many “swing” districts are really out there? And how would this look on a map?
First, I plotted the seats where only one major party candidate is running (sorry, Greens, Concerned Citizens and the Independent party, but I’ll eat my laptop if one of you actually wins). Here’s the map (blue = Democrat running unopposed by a major party candidate, red = Republican running unopposed by a major party candidate):
CT House of Representatives 2008 – Uncontested districts
That’s a surprising amount of the map covered. 54 districts, according to the latest count (and the count on this page from the SOTS). Yes, it’s a little less than in previous years… but that’s still more than a third of all districts!
Now for the tricky part. Which districts have candidates from both major parties, but are considered to be “safe”? This is harder. The metric I used is districts which were won by more than 20% in 2006, which is a pretty wide split. Here’s what that looks like:
CT House of Representatives 2008 – “Safe” Districts
This isn’t always the most reliable way of figuring out which districts are “safe.” A strong challenger can emerge (think of Derek Donnelly last year, who came within two points of unseating Ruth Fahrbach, whose district was thought to be “safe”), or for whatever reason a party won’t nominate someone in a swing district. And some districts swing more than others. Some will reliably elect a Republican or a Democrat by, say, 10% every election. Others will vary widely.
There will be a few surprises in the “safe” districts, there’s no doubt about it. But by and large, barring some sort of major political reversal, the vast majority of the districts on the map will stay the same. The districts remaining, the swing districts, number about 24.
Meaning that even if Republicans run the table in the swing districts, they won’t come anywhere near a majority. They would have to make major inroads into traditionally “safe” Democratic areas in the eastern and central parts of the state, as well as along the southwestern shore, if they ever hoped to regain the majority they lost for the last time in 1986.
Here’s a handy chart of the swing districts on the map, for your reference (click to make larger):