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Historically, the president's party has usually lost seats in the House in the midterms. In addition, the Republicans have gerrymandered a lot of seats. That would seem to make the goal of taking back the House almost impossible. But it may not be as bad as it seems.

Below the fold, I take a geeky look at things (I am, after all, a statistician)

The first point is relatively simple: If we look only at districts where Obama got between 40 and 60 percent of the vote, there are a lot more Republicans than Democrats. In fact, there are 121 Republicans and 73 Democrats. It is very unlikely that any of the other 241 districts will switch parties.

There are several ways of rating congressmembers from liberal to conservative. In this diary, I used Progressive Punch's lifetime crucial vote measure. I did this because it is more up-to-date than one that I usually use (VoteView). In any case, the ratings from the various places correlate very well.  First, let's look at the distribution of scores, just among the districts that are changeable. They are percentages and can range from 0 to 100.

The scores on the left are conservative, those on the right are liberal. Notice the distinct valley in the middle. The higher peak on the left is indicative of the greater party cohesion on the Republican side (even in swing districts), and is the first hint of our ability to take back the House.

For those who don't like graphs, another way to show the same thing is to divide the congress members into 5 groups from "Very conservative" to "Very liberal". If we do this, we find that, in the swing districts, there are 114 representatives who are very conservative but only 11 who are very liberal.  Further: if we make a table of that "group" by party we find that, of the 121 Republicans in swing districts, 114 are very conservative and none are moderate.  

Next, I sorted the group of very conservative representatives by Obama percentage and here are the top 50:

CD              Incumbent                Obama.2012
CA-31         Miller, Gary                       57.2
CA-21         Valadao, David                  54.6
FL-27          Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana          53.1
NJ-03          Runyan, Jon                     51.8
CO-06         Coffman, Mike                   51.6

NY-11         Grimm, Michael                  51.6
NY-02         King, Peter                       51.6
IA-03          Latham, Tom                    51.4
CA-10         Denham, Jeff                    50.6
VA-02         Rigell, Scott                     50.1

FL-13          Young, Bill                       50.1
MN-03         Paulsen, Erik                    49.6
NV-03         Heck, Joe                        49.5
MN-02         Kline, John                       49.1
VA-04         Forbes, Randy                  48.8

NY-22         Hanna, Richard                 48.8
MI-06         Upton, Fred                      48.8
VA-10         Wolf, Frank                      48.8
FL-25          Diaz-Balart, Mario             48.7
IL-13           Davis, Rodney                 48.6

PA-07          Meehan, Pat                   48.5
NY-23          Reed, Tom                      48.4
OH-10         Turner, Michael                48.2
PA-06         Gerlach, Jim                     48.1
MI-08         Rogers, Mike J.                 48.0

PA-15         Dent, Charlie                    47.9
NJ-05         Garrett, Scott                   47.9
WA-03        Herrera Beutler, Jaime        47.9
MI-07         Walberg, Tim                    47.9
WI-07         Duffy, Sean                     47.8

CA-25         McKeon, Buck                  47.8
OH-14         Joyce, David                    47.6
WI-08         Ribble, Reid                      47.6
WI-01         Ryan, Paul                       47.4
FL-07          Mica, John                       47.1

CA-39         Royce, Ed                        47.1
MI-11          Bentivolio, Kerry               46.9
NJ-11          Frelinghuysen, Rodney       46.6
FL-02          Southerland, Steve           46.5
OH-01         Chabot, Steve                 46.3

NJ-07          Lance, Leonard                46.3
PA-16          Pitts, Joe                       46.3
OH-15         Stivers, Steve                 46.3
VA-05         Hurt, Robert                    45.9
WI-06         Petri, Tom                      45.8

CO-03         Tipton, Scott                  45.8
CA-49         Issa, Darrell                    45.7
NE-02         Terry, Lee                      45.7
FL-10         Webster, Dan                  45.7
FL-15         Ross, Dennis                   45.6

So, in my view, this is where we should concentrate our efforts. These are 50 representatives who not only have views we detest, but who represent districts where a considerable number of people disagree with those views.

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