The GOP’s Magic Number

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It’s not 39. That’s the net gain required for Republicans to reclaim the House, but even on what should be a difficult night, the Democrats have several pickup prospects. Perhaps the best is in Delaware’s at-large Congressional district, where Democrat John Carney, the state’s former lieutenant governor, should breeze past Republican Glen Urquhart, a real-estate developer who has roamed too far to the right for the state’s electorate. (This fall, he bore out Godwin’s Law by arguing the “liberal” belief in a separation between church and state was originally a Nazi idea.) Carney would replace Mike Castle, who fell to Christine O’Donnell in another stark example of how Tea Party purity tests can be perilous for the party.

In Illinois, Dems have a good shot at winning the seat being vacated by Senate nominee Mark Kirk, in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs. Nate Silver gives Democrat Dan Seals a 68% chance of beating Republican Robert Dold. The party could also pick up the open seat created by the retirement of Republican Mario Diaz-Balart; polls show a tight race between Democrat Joe Garcia, a former county chairman, and Republican David Rivera. Two seats worth keeping an eye on out west are Dan Lundgren’s, in California’s 3rd District, and Charles Djou’s in Hawaii. The Democrats have an outside shot at capturing retiring Republican Rep. John Shadegg’s old seat, Arizona-3, with legatee Ben Quayle dogged by an uneven campaign and his contributions to a soft-porn webisite. And the DCCC has its eye on another dark horse that I’ll let Jay discuss in more detail later. Picking up a handful of these would raise the Republicans’ magic number for flipping the House into the low-to-mid 40s. That’s not to say they can’t do it; only that bar’s a bit higher than it seems.

We will have coverage throughout the night on key House, Senate and governor’s races, so please stay tuned.