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Posted at 2:21 PM ET, 11/29/2010

GOP swept nearly 70 percent of seats held by vulnerable Democrats in 2010

By Felicia Sonmez

This cycle, a whopping 78 of the Democratic-held House seats up for grabs were in districts that had either been won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 or been picked up by Democrats in 2006 or 2008.

Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney's narrow victory declared last week over Republican David Harmer in California brought the last of those races to its conclusion. And while McNerney's win was a bright spot for Democrats, it pales in comparison with Republicans' massive wins.

Of those 78 Democratic-held seats, Republicans won 53 of them -- a 69 percent success rate.

Fifty-one of the seats had been picked up by Democrats in 2006 and 2008; Republican challengers won 35 of those -- meaning that the GOP recaptured 70 percent of the seats it had lost over the past two cycles.

Forty-eight of the 78 seats were in districts won by McCain in 2008; Republican candidates won 36 of them in 2010, a 75 percent success rate. (Twenty-one of the 78 seats both went to McCain in 2008 and were Democratic pick-ups in 2006 or 2008.)

What does all this mean for 2012? For one thing, it's a near certainty that many of the Democrats who lost in those districts will run again in two years, hoping to win back their seats without having to struggle against a GOP wave. Several ousted Democrats have already made noises about running, including Reps. Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye of Virginia, Reps. Alan Grayson and Allen Boyd of Florida, and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire.

For another thing, it means that even if their former occupants opt against running, many of these seats are likely to continue to be contested, especially if the economy and President Obama's approval rating rebound heading into 2012.

Of course, it's worth noting that some of these districts may change drastically (or cease to exist) after the upcoming redistricting. And it will be worth watching the dozen or so districts where Republicans won in 2010 despite the fact that Obama won them in 2008 and that Democrats had long held many of those seats.

Even so, the scale of Republicans' impressive 2010 win means that many of the districts the GOP swept up this month will continue to be hotly contested.

By Felicia Sonmez  | November 29, 2010; 2:21 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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