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Dangerous Dozen: Unsafe House Incumbents

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
With his redrawn North Carolina district encompassing more GOP territory, Rep. Larry Kissell is in danger of losing his seat in 2012.

For years now, Iíve been running lists of vulnerable open seats and incumbents, so there is no reason to wait until all states have completed redistricting. Here are the most vulnerable incumbents who are currently planning on seeking re-election. One caveat: I have excluded incumbents running against incumbents, whether in primaries or general elections. The most vulnerable Members are at the top of the list.

Larry Kissell (D-N.C.). Kissell finds himself in a redrawn district that moves north into Republican-rich Davidson and Rowan counties and out of Mecklenburg County. The political ramifications of the change are nothing short of dramatic, with what once was a 55 percent President Barack Obama district now becoming a 57 percent Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) district. Kissell, not known for his strong fundraising, would need a miracle to hold the seat.

John Barrow (D-Ga.). Barrowís district goes from a 55 percent Obama district to a 59 percent McCain district. While the Congressman has tried to distance himself from the national Democratic Party, his prospects in a presidential year are somewhere between horrible and abysmal. Retirement would appear to be an option.

Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.). Schilling, an upset winner in 2010, won this district even though McCain drew just 42 percent in 2008. So what did Democratic mapmakers do? They made the district even more Democratic. Under the new lines, McCain drew just 38 percent of the vote. In a presidential year, Schilling faces an almost impossible task.

Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). Bartlettís new district reaches down into more Democratic Montgomery County, fundamentally changing the nature of the district. His 59 percent McCain district is now a 42 percent McCain district, and his new Montgomery County voters arenít likely to find the 85-year-old legislatorís politics to their liking. If he runs for re-election, he will face a very formidable Democratic foe from the new part of his district.

Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.). Missouri lost a district and the GOP Legislature squeezed out Carnahan. Some of his district was given to Rep. William Lacy Clay (D) and the rest to Rep. Todd Akin (R). Carnahan hasnít announced his plans, but since Akin is running for the Senate, a run in his district would seem more likely than against Clay in a district where African-Americans constitute a large majority in a Democratic primary. The open seat certainly leans Republican, especially with Obama at the top of the ticket (McCain won it with 53 percent in 2008), so if Carnahan does run for re-election, heíll start off in a very difficult position.

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