Political waves create a great deal of uncertainty. If there is a wave, exactly how big will it be? Who could possibly be swept away in the tsunami?
In a cycle when Republican House strategists are talking about taking out Democratic veterans such as Budget Chairman John Spratt (S.C.), Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (Minn.) and Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, strange things can happen.
Members assumed to be safe suddenly find themselves in tough races. We know Republicans are making a run at Democratic Reps. Ben Chandler (Ky.) and Tim Walz (Minn.), but could Democratic Reps. John Yarmuth (Ky.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) or Russ Carnahan (Mo.) lose?
Here are a few incumbents who werent targeted at the beginning of this cycle (or even six weeks ago) but could find themselves in uncomfortable positions.
Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowas 2nd district). Republicans have released a Tarrance Group poll showing the Democrat and GOP challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks in a statistical dead heat. Democrats laugh at that assessment, citing their evidence that Loebsack is comfortably ahead and noting that he beat Miller-Meeks by 18 points two years ago.
Republicans argue that the Congressman is a bad candidate who has been very passive in his re-election campaign. Loebsack was a political science professor at Cornell College when lightning struck and he defeated veteran Rep. Jim Leach, a liberal Republican, in the wave year of 2006.
Loebsack represents the most liberal district in Iowa (which includes Johnson County, home of the University of Iowa). But unlike 2006 and 2008, he wont be able to ride a Democratic wave this year.
In fact, two statewide Republican candidates this year, Sen. Chuck Grassley and gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad, are running well in the district and statewide, and Republican enthusiasm in the state could help Miller-Meeks bid.
Neither candidate is awash in cash. Loebsack had raised $645,000 through June 30, while Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist who spent more than two decades in the Army (retiring as a lieutenant colonel), had raised $318,000.
Rep. Charlie Wilson (Ohios 6th district). The moderate Democrat represents a conservative district that starts just south of Youngstown and stretches south along the eastern part of the state. Republican challenger Bill Johnson is a businessman and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with no political experience.
Johnson raised about $306,000 through June 30, just more than half of what Wilson took in. Republicans think this race is already close, and it is the kind of rural conservative district that might be so eager to send President Barack Obama a message that the Democratic Congressman might turn into collateral damage.
Rep. Mark Critz (Pennsylvanias 12th district). This district is being completely ignored, and it is understandable why. After all, Critz beat Republican Tim Burns by a surprisingly comfortable margin in a May special election, and the Democrat now faces Burns in a November rematch.