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Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

Arkansas’ 1st. Bush carried this conservative northeast Arkansas district with 52 percent, but McCain drew a solid 59 percent four years later. Plenty of Democratic officeholders are looking to succeed retiring Rep. Marion Berry (D), while Republican options appear fewer. The key question mark is the size of the GOP wave and how disastrous the cycle is for Democrats in Arkansas.

Illinois’ 10th. If the seat held by Rep. Mark Kirk (R) had come open in 2006 or 2008, it would have been a slam-dunk for Democrats. But the environment is very different. The outlook for November depends somewhat on Tuesday’s primaries, but there is no doubt that Democrats see this as a rare takeover opportunity this cycle.

Arkansas’ 2nd. Retiring Rep. Vic Snyder’s (D) central Arkansas district went narrowly for Bush in 2004 and voted 54 percent for McCain in 2008. Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin gives the GOP a solid nominee, but a number of serious Democrats are looking at the race.

New Hampshire’s 2nd. Oh how different things looked in New Hampshire a year ago. Democrats finished up their near sweep of the Granite State, and the GOP’s fortunes there suddenly looked like any other New England state. But the national mood has changed, and GOP optimism has soared. Former Rep. Charles Bass leads a large GOP field, while Democrats have a primary of their own to succeed Rep. Paul Hodes (D).

Pennsylvania’s 7th. The ranking of the last two races depends on whether you are making a selection based on where the race is now or where it may be in the fall. Former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan gives the GOP a serious likely nominee. The district no longer leans Republican — Bush won 47 percent in 2004 and McCain only 43 percent in 2008 — and Democrats have a top-tier candidate of their own in state Rep. Bryan Lentz. Still, in a strong Republican year, Democrats have to be nervous about losing Rep. Joe Sestak’s district.

Washington’s 3rd. Retiring Rep. Brian Baird’s (D) open seat performed slightly better for McCain than for Bush in 2004 (and better than Pennsylvania’s 7th did for the same Republicans). But the nomination won’t be decided until the fall, and Democrats have a slew of bigger names looking at the contest. Still, if the GOP gets the right candidate and a partisan wave builds, this district could move up the list as a takeover opportunity.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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