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DCCC pulls out of six vulnerable districts

Updated at 6:09 p.m.

By Aaron Blake

Democrats have canceled all of their ad reservations in at least six districts where their odds of holding the seats appear to be shrinking with three weeks to go until Election Day.

According to sources, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled all of its remaining reservations for districts held by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.) and Steve Driehaus (Ohio), as well as open seats in Indiana's 8th district, Tennessee's 8th district and Kansas's 3rd district.

It has also canceled reservations in two districts where it is now confident of victory: Rep. Joseph Cao's (R-La.) seat and the open at-large seat in Delaware.

Cao's seat and the Delaware seat were widely expected to flip to Democrats, so the real news is the other districts where the DCCC is pulling out.

The first six will be tough for Democrats to hold; they have ranked among the party's most vulnerable districts throughout the year, and the DCCC's decision to pull out completely suggests doom for the Democrats running.

The Democrats are also likely to lose four open seats that the committee has yet to invest in: Tennessee's 6th district, Arkansas's 2nd district, Louisiana's 3rd district and New York's 29th district.

Adding those four districts to the six vulnerable ones where the committee has canceled its time suggests the DCCC could be conceding 10 seats at this point. But it is likely to gain two back in Cao's seat and Delaware.

The DCCC canceled ad reservations all over the country early this week, but the scope and the intention of many of the cancellations remains to be seen in many cases.

The DCCC has canceled some time in districts held by Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), John Spratt (D-S.C.), Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas), Steve Kagen (D-Wis.) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), as well as the open seat held by retiring Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.).

Many of the reductions appear to be minor, though, and may just be a part of the committee's usual process of moving money between districts.

Some of the DCCC's cancellations come in markets that span multiple districts. Here's a recap of where they could be aimed at:

Boston - These are likely for one of two Democratic seats in New Hampshire that Republicans are targeting. But the open seat left by retiring Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) is also in play.

Cleveland - There are slight cuts for both Reps. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) and Zack Space (D-Ohio), but the big cuts come for Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), who the committee is now confident will win thanks to GOP nominee Tom Ganley's sexual harassment scandal.

Philadelphia - Besides the Delaware seat, there appear to be cuts in districts held by Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R).

Phoenix - The cuts could affect Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) and/or Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.).

Chicago - The cuts could affect Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D), Rep. Bill Foster (D), and/or the open seat held by Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk (R). Halvorson's seat appears to be the toughest of the three for Democrats.

Seattle - The cuts could affect any of three Washington seats: Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) or the open seat of retiring Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.).

All of the districts listed above are places where the DCCC had reserved ad time.

Keep in mind: everything is fluid when it comes to ad buys, and these things can change at a moment's notice.

It's notable that the DCCC appears to be cutting bait completely in several seats, but not all cuts should be seen as evidence of weakness or strength. Numerous factors play into every decision made by the committees' independent expenditure units.

What's clear, though, is that the DCCC is prepared to be a little ruthless when it comes to cutting off certain districts in order to save money for more competitive ones. We'll see how that process plays out in other districts.

By Aaron Blake  | October 12, 2010; 4:36 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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