In California, GOP recruitment successes and Democratic missteps have lowered expectations for gains, once considered as high as a half-dozen seats. Democrats lost a potential pickup opportunity in the 31st district when two Republicans advanced in the June “jungle” primary, and there is little hope the party can hold the open 21st district after a series of recruitment missteps. In Florida, a court challenge to the GOP-led redistricting fell flat, leaving Democrats with a likely gain of only one to three seats, less than the six they had hoped for. And in New York, a federal judge drew a map that makes for a lot of competitive races that a Democratic gerrymander would have left comfortably in the party’s column.
Democrats also suffered some bad breaks in the South. A new seat in South Carolina fell out of play when the only Democrat with a real shot was arrested. Three seats in Arkansas — those of retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D) and freshman GOP Reps. Rick Crawford and Tim Griffin — all appeared to be potentially competitive earlier in the cycle. Now, it looks as if a Republican will represent all of them come January.
Referring to Griffin’s 2nd district, which is anchored by Little Rock, influential Democratic pollster John Anzalone said it represented “huge missed opportunities” for his party. “The South is just not the place where you’re going to make a lot of gains this cycle,” he said.
“The South, when you lose seats like you did in 2010, it takes many, many more cycles for that to regenerate back to Democratic opportunity,” Anzalone continued. “The pendulum just swings a hell of a lot slower down there, like it’s going through the humidity.”