The issue of the Rothenberg Political Report that will be mailed to premium subscribers today (Tuesday) will nudge the Bachmann-Wetterling race slightly closer to a toss-up, and it will for the first time project enough Dem pick-ups to give them control of the House next year.
Stu Rothenberg is a veteran Washington insider, political handicapper, frequent TV pundit. Like several other such services, he rates the competitiveness of every House and Senate race in the nation.
Through May, he had listed the race for the open (Mark Kennedy) seat in the Minnesota Sixth District as “Leans Republican.” Unlike most of the others who attempt this exercise, Rothenberg has a category between “leans” toward one part or the other and “pure toss-up.”
This in-between category is called “Toss-up/Tilt.” And that is where the new issue rates the Bachmann-Wetterling race, specifically “Toss-up/Tilt Republican.”
That means Rothenberg and his helpful and able Political Editor Nathan Gonzales perceive a slight advantage for Bachmann, but obviously, slighter than they perceived before, and no longer enough to characterize as a “lean.”
Here’s Rothenberg’s comment on the WetterBach race:
“Wetterling, who drew 46% against incumbent Kennedy (in ’04) initially announced that she couldn’t win this district and therefore would run statewide. But she changed her mind, and Democrats are very optimistic about her chances. The Republican nominee is Bachmann, a personable, high profile conservative who has proven her campaign skills by defeating two incumbents.
“The district is quite Republican (Pres. Bush won it with 57% in 2004), but Wetterling appears to lead in early polling, in part because of her better name recognition. Bachmann has a chance of overtaking her by painting her as too left for district voters, but even GOP operatives are worried about Bachmann’s strongly indeological reputation and her combative quality.
“The question here is which candidate becomes the main issue in the race, Wetterling or Bachmann. A very competitive race that Republicans can’t afford to lose if they have any chance of holding the House.
The much more consequential thing about the new Rothenberg ratings, if they turn out to be correct, is that he now projects an overall Democratic pickup of 15-20 seats in the House. Fifteen is the minimum the Dems need to take control.
In May, the last time Rothenberg rated all the House races, he projected a Dem. pickup of 8-12, which would mean that Repubs keep control.