WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri illustrates the Democrats’ predicament as they try to maintain control of the House of Representatives.
After winning 66 percent of the vote two years ago, he is facing a tough re-election battle against Vicki Hartzler, a former Missouri House member from Harrisonville.
Skelton’s moderate voting record gives him a stronger shot at re-election than many House Democrats. Nonetheless, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending more than $300,000 on ad buys hoping to save Skelton’s seat, according to disclosure reports last week.
House Democrats, after gaining 52 seats since 2006, could be facing losses approaching that level and perhaps beyond, polls and political handicappers suggest. Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to run the House next year.
In a battery of recent polls, Republicans on Friday were holding an advantage averaging 7.2 percent when voters were asked which party they supported in congressional elections. Several independent analysts increased predictions last week on GOP success: The Cook Political Report said Republicans could gain 52 seats and also moved Skelton’s race to the “tossup” category. Larry Sabato, who heads the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, predicted a 47-seat gain for Republicans.
Democrats are pinning hopes for a late revival on President Barack Obama’s 11th-hour appeals, efforts to reinvigorate women voters and what they see as their superior get-out-the-vote machinery. But Republicans and Rep. John Boehner, who would elevate to House Speaker, have seen enough polls to begin planning in earnest to take charge.