Sabato calls Cicilline’s seat ‘a toss-up,’ joins Cook, RothenbergJuly 9th, 2012 at 3:49 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
The race between Democratic Congressman David Cicilline and Republican challenger Brendan Doherty is one of the 15 closest U.S. House races in the country, according to the Sabato Crystal Ball published by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, whose director is the prominent political prognosticator Larry Sabato.
“Losing this seat would be an utter calamity for Democrats – if it flipped, RI-1 would be, by several points, the most Democratic seat held by any Republican,” writes Kyle Kondik, the center’s U.S. House editor. The redrawn 1st District gave Barack Obama 67% of the vote in 2008 against 32% for John McCain, according to Daily Kos Elections.
The new rating is a change for Kondik and the center, which as recently as January classified the 1st District as “likely Democratic” and therefore only potentially competitive for Republicans. The Cook Political Report also rates the seat a toss-up and Stuart Rothenberg rated it “Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat” in May.
Kondik offered Democrats some consolation, writing that “while Cicilline appears to be in trouble, it’s also hard to imagine Democrats ultimately losing such a seat – and, even if they do, it’s one the Republicans probably wouldn’t be able to hold for long.” He predicts a net gain of fewer than 10 U.S. House seats for Democrats this year.
Separately, Politico reported Sunday the Republican-affiliated group American Action Network will spend at least $10 million on “a legislation-focused ground game in a number of states where there are competitive House races but state parties with little ability to provide a lift” – a description that could easily fit Rhode Island’s 1st.
American Action Network, “one of the key outside forces on the right, is one of the organizations helping out in the so-called ‘orphan’ states, with weak state parties but races that are key to holding and expanding the Republican majority in the House,” according to Politico’s Maggie Haberman.
• Related: Cicilline raised more than $300K in 2Q; war chest tops $825K (July 9)