The New PVI Ratings Are Out! The New PVI Ratings Are Out!
Charlie Cook's PVI (Partisan Voting Index) ratings have become an indispensable tool for quickly identifying the partisan lean of any particular Congressional district in the country. Cook basically takes the Presidential results of the past two election cycles in a particular district and matches them against the results of the entire country to come up with the PVI number. If a district is R+3, for example, that basically means it is 3 points more Republican than the country as a whole. I like the Cook PVI because it isn't based on raw registration numbers, but actual electoral performance that is somewhat uniform across the country.
Thanks to the release of full election data by Congressional district throughout the country, Cook can now calculate the new PVI ratings for every seat. The California numbers are worth considering (You can find them all at this link). As Cook notes, there are 8 districts in the state with "Obama Republicans"; that is, Republican Congressmen in districts that Obama carried (There are no "McCain Democrats"). Those districts are:
CA-03 (Lungren), CA-24 (Gallegly), CA-25 (McKeon), CA-26 (Dreier), CA-44 (Calvert), CA-45 (Bono Mack), CA-48 (Campbell), CA-50 (Bilbray)
Of those seats, the three with the closest PVI ratings are CA-26, CA-45 and CA-50, all which have R+3. CA-24 is an R+4. And the rest in this group are R+6. Keep in mind that 2004 Bush-Kerry stats are factored into this, so there may be a bit of lag from the actual nature of the district.
Of these seats, the only Republican-held seat to get noticeably more Democratic from the 2004 set of ratings was CA-48, which went from an R+8 to an R+6. Several Democratic-held seats shifted in that fashion as well, as the largest partisan shifts in the country were "disproportionately western and suburban," says Cook.
The most Republican district in the state is CA-22 (McCarthy), which is the 44th most Republican in the country at R+16. The most Democratic is CA-09 (Lee), the 5th most Democratic in the country at D+37. A couple other notes:
• Jerry McNerney still holds an R+1 seat. However, this is not surprising, since Democrats hold 34 of the 50 seats between R+2 and D+2.
• CA-10 grew slightly more Democratic this time, at D+11, further destroying the myth that it's a moderate seat. Actual somewhat close (though not in danger) Democratic seats include CA-18 (Cardoza, D+4), CA-20 (Costa, D+5) and CA-47 (Loretta Sanchez, D+4).
• Turning to races from last year, CA-46 remains moderately competitive at R+6, while CA-04 (McClintock) is R+10, a testament to how strong Charlie Brown was to even compete.
Now, this just measures the partisan lean of a district, not the partisanship of a particular member of Congress. A better judge for that would be the Progressive Punch score weighted for district tilt, an excellent measure of whether or not a member is out of step with their district. In California, the strongest Dems are Barbara Lee, Linda Sanchez and Lynn Woolsey, while the weakest Dems are Jim Costa, Jerry McNerney and Jane Harman (and remember, that's district-weighted).
A lot to digest here, but much of it is familiar - we have multiple potential Congressional targets, and have for a number of cycles, but just need to use resources and ground talent better.