Republicans are widely expected to make significant gains this November, possibly, perhaps even probably, taking back control of the House of Representatives. This is to be expected to some extent, as the Democrats enjoyed two big wave elections in 2006 and 2008, and many of those House members won't be coming back. But there are some other Dems, who in many other cycles would be safe bets to be reelected, that have unexpectedly ended up in tough races after longer tenures in Congress.
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[TPM'S TOP 10 HOUSE RACES TO WATCH]
The House members we're talking about are folks who have been easily re-elected in past cycles, often without significant opposition, in districts that were leaning Republican in other ways, such as in the presidential vote. But in a year where the GOP has the wind at their backs, these Dems are now being aggressively targeted, and facing tough races.
"You always have some Congressmen who have been shaky," said Professor Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia, in an interview with TPM. "You think of John Spratt. Look at his district, where it is in South Carolina, he's never really that safe. Ike Skelton [of Missouri] -- they're just never that safe. They get a lot of passes, and their incumbency and their chairmanships help them. But every now and then the sun and the moon and the stars align just right and they're in trouble. It doesn't mean they'll lose, but they'll have close and competitive races, anyway."
So let's take a look at some of the Dems who have been in Congress for awhile -- and somewhat surprisingly, will have to work hard this year to stay there. This list is not exhaustive of all suddenly-vulnerable Dems, nor is it meant to imply that all or even any of them are guaranteed to lose. But it does give a sense of the current hostile environment and lack of Democratic enthusiasm -- especially as it spreads to districts that have been becoming more Republican underneath their occupants' feet.