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The Fix 50 (plus 15): Democratic House majority in deep peril

The rapid expansion of the House playing field coupled with Republicans' surprising financial competitiveness and an election nationalized around the economy and spending have turned what always looked to be a tough election for Democrats into an extremely perilous one.

With political handicappers rating more than 90 Democratic-held seats as competitive even as the generic congressional ballot continues to favor Republicans, the chances of the GOP gaining the 39 seats it needs to win back the majority are high.

Friday Line

Most political prognosticators are predicting gains well in excess of 39 seats; Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, updated his prediction last night to a 55-65 seat gain for Republicans with 70 or more seats possible. Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, is in similar territory -- predicting a net Democratic loss of between 48-60 "with higher losses possible".

Those predictions come as Democrats seem to be in triage mode -- spending money on people like Rep. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Ron Klein (Fla.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) seemingly in hopes of limiting a blowout loss nationally rather than holding the majority.

In an attempt to best capture the expanding playing field, we have expanded the Fix 50 -- our rankings of the top 50 races likely to switch on Tuesday -- to the Fix 65. The first 15 races on the Line are certain switchers and, as such, need no analysis. The next 50, however, will be where the extent of Republican gains will be made clear on Tuesday night.

As always, the number one ranked race is considered the most likely to flip party control. Kudos? Critiques? The comment section awaits!

To the Line!

65. New Jersey's 3rd district (Democratic controlled): Polling has shown Rep. John Adler (D) neck-and-neck with former NFL lineman Jon Runyan, and Adler got a last-minute infusion of $640,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week. (Previous ranking: N/A)

64. New Hampshire's 2nd district (D): Former Rep. Charlie Bass (R) is the de facto incumbent in the race -- a good dynamic for Ann McLane Kuster (D) in a rare seat where Democrats feel good. (Previous ranking: 20)

63. California's 11th district (D): GOP attorney David Harmer is running for his second congressional seat in the span of a year (he ran in a special election in the 10th last November). A Harmer win would mean a very good night for Republicans. (Previous ranking: N/A)

62. Texas's 23rd district (D): Repeat GOP candidate Quico Canseco will try to reclaim for his party this vast and unwieldy southwest Texas district that Rep. Ciro Rodriguez took from Republicans in a 2006 runoff. (Previous ranking: N/A)

61. New Mexico's 1st district (D): President Obama won this district with 60 percent in 2008 but Democrats have spent nearly $1 million trying to save freshman Rep. Martin Heinrich. (Previous ranking: N/A)

60. Ohio's 16th district (D): Democratic Rep. John Boccieri, after switching his vote in favor of the second version of the healthcare bill, has reaped more than $3 million in support from labor unions and the DCCC but still may come up short. (Previous ranking: 43)

59. New York's 23rd district (D): A new Siena College poll shows Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman pulling 15 percent of the vote despite having ended his campaign weeks ago. GOPer Matt Doheny needs that number to come down to win. (Previous ranking: N/A)

58. New York's 24th district (D): If state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's (D) dominance in the governor's race helps just one House candidate, it might be Rep. Michael Arcuri. (Previous ranking: 44)

57. South Dakota's at-large district (D): State Rep. Kristi Noem has become a GOP celebrity candidate in recent months, hauling in more than $1 million for her challenge to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. (Previous ranking: 41)

56. South Carolina's 5th district (D): A recent poll for The Hill newspaper showed state Sen. Mick Mulvaney (R) leading House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt by 10 points. (Previous ranking: 46)

55. Illinois' 14th district (D): The National Republican Congressional Committee made a decision not to spend much money in expensive media markets like Chicago, but cash-poor state Sen. Randy Hultgren (R) could have used some more help. (Previous ranking: 45)

54. Virginia's 5th district (D): President Obama campaigns with Rep. Tom Perriello today in Charlottesville, a sign that the White House thinks Perriello might be able to pull off a shocker. (Previous ranking: 15)

53. Florida's 25th district (Republican controlled): The DCCC has spent $1.4 million on repeat candidate Joe Garcia, while the NRCC has spent nothing for state Rep. David Rivera (R). This is a real pickup opportunity for Democrats. (Previous ranking: N/A)

52. Arkansas's 1st district (D): The fact that Democrat Chad Causey has a chance as a former congressional aide (read: Washington insider) in this strongly conservative district is a testament to the quality of campaign he has run. (Previous ranking: 36)

51. Oregon's 5th district (D): Public polling here has been favorable for freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader (D), but Republicans still like their chances -- especially with the governor's race looking very competitive. (Previous ranking: N/A)

50. Maryland's 1st district (D): In the category of resilient freshmen in tough districts, Rep. Frank Kratovil is right up there with Perriello. (Previous ranking: 18)

49. Ohio's 18th district (D): Both national party committees have spent more than $1 million on Rep. Zack Space's reelection bid in a district that is very tough for Democrats. (Previous ranking: N/A)

48. West Virginia's 1st district (D): Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) apparent resurgence in the state's Senate race probably helps state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D), who was virtually tied with former state Del. David McKinley (R) in a recent poll from The Hill. (Previous ranking: 38)

47. Pennsylvania's 7th district (D): As Rep. Joe Sestak (D) has improved his lot in the open Senate race, state Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) could reap the benefits in Sestak's House district. (Previous ranking: 26)

46. Pennsylvania's 10th district (D): Polling has been all over the place in this northeastern Pennsylvania seat -- from a six-point lead for Rep. Chris Carney to a six-point lead for former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino (R). (Previous ranking: N/A)

45. Michigan's 7th district (D): The national party committees have spent a combined $2.7 million here to date. It looks like a jump ball between Rep. Mark Schauer and former Rep. Tim Walberg (R). (Previous ranking: 39)

44. Pennsylvania's 8th district (D): Pennsylvania Democrats appear to be getting a late boost ahead of Election Day, which is good news for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), although the race remains tight. (Previous ranking: 42)

43. New York's 19th district (D): This week's Siena Poll showed a one-point race between Rep. John Hall (D) and Republican Nan Hayworth. (Previous ranking: N/A)

42. Arizona's 5th district (D): Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) has some late momentum, but will it be enough to carry him through a rematch against former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert (R)? (Previous ranking: 32)

41. Illinois' 17th district (D): Restaurateur Bobby Schilling (R) has run a surprisingly strong race against Rep. Phil Hare (D) and might be a slight favorite at this point. (Previous ranking: N/A)

40. Mississippi's 4th district (D): In a district where President Obama won only 32 percent in 2008, embattled Rep. Gene Taylor (D) recently said he voted for Obama's opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in 2008 -- a sign of just how worried he is. (Previous ranking: N/A)

39. Hawaii's 1st district (R): Both sides are confident of their chances in the race for the President's home district, although the raw numbers are tough for Rep. Charles Djou (R). (Previous ranking: 47)

38. Indiana's 9th district (D): A poll conducted for The Hill newspaper this week showed Rep. Baron Hill (D) locked in a dead heat with attorney Todd Young (R). (Previous ranking: 33)

37. Tennessee's 4th district (D): Physician Scott DesJarlais (R) appears to have weathered a controversy over his divorce and he's likely to benefit from the strong GOP underpinnings of the seat currently held by Rep. Lincoln Davis. (Previous ranking: N/A)

36. Wisconsin's 7th district (D): Former Ashland County District Attorney (and ex-"Real World" star) Sean Duffy (R) has withstood Democrats' fire and is now a slight favorite in the open-seat race to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D). (Previous ranking: 40)

35. Pennsylvania's 11th district (D): Former President Bill Clinton recently told supporters of 13-term Rep. Paul Kanjorski that momentum is on the Democrat's side, and if recent polling is to be believed, he may be right. (Previous ranking: 29)

34. Michigan's 1st district (D): Physician Dan Benishek (R) has a slight edge over state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D); both party committees are spending big. (Previous ranking: 35)

33. New York's 20th district(D): A Siena Poll this week showed retired Army Col. Chris Gibson (R) surging to a nine-point lead over Rep. Scott Murphy (D); former President Clinton swoops in to campaign for Murphy on Monday. (Previous ranking: N/A)

32. Nevada's 3rd district (D): Nevada Democrats up and down the ballot are struggling to stay afloat as the state's unemployment rate hits record highs, and Rep. Dina Titus (D) is no exception. (Previous ranking: 34)

31. North Dakota's at-large district (D): Embattled Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) faces his toughest race ever. He acknowledges in his latest TV ad that he's "disappointed" voters, but will the mea culpa work? (Previous ranking: 23)

30. Arizona's 1st district (D): Both national parties are spending big bucks on this district, where freshman Rep. Ann Kirpatrick (D) remains locked in a tough re-election bid against dentist Paul Gosar (R). (Previous ranking: 25)

29. Georgia's 8th district(D): An independent poll this week showed state Rep. Austin Scott (R) leading four-term Rep. Jim Marshall (D) by a whopping 13 points; Marshall's own polling shows the race in a dead heat. (Previous ranking: 48)

28. Missouri's 4th district (D): One of several longtime incumbents targeted by the GOP this cycle, 17-term Democratic Rep. and Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton is struggling against strong headwinds in a heavily Republican district. (Previous ranking: N/A)

27. Alabama's 2nd district (D): In a race where each of the national party committees has spent upward of a million dollars, Rep. Bobby Bright (D) appears to be losing ground to Montgomery Councilor Martha Roby (R). (Previous ranking: 37)

26. Colorado's 3rd district (D): A poll conducted for The Hill newspaper this week has Rep. John Salazar (D) trailing his opponent, state Rep. Scott Tipton (R), by four points. (Previous ranking: N/A)

25. Mississippi's 1st district (D): Rep. Travis Childers (D) has hung tougher than almost anyone thought he would in this Republican-minded north Mississippi seat. But, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) is credible and from the right part of the district to win. (Previous ranking: 16)

24. Virginia's 2nd district (D):While Rep. Tom Perriello (D) regularly voted for the President's agenda, Nye almost uniformly opposed it. It doesn't appear to have helped. (Previous ranking: 17)

23. Washington's 3rd district (D): A genuine swing district that in a year like this one tilts slightly to state Rep. Jamie Herrera (R) although Democrats insist former state Rep. Denny Heck is very much still in the game. (Previous ranking: 31)

22. Texas' 17th district (D): Rep. Chet Edwards (D) has scored some good hits on businessman Bill Flores (R) but it doesn't look likely to matter in this overwhelmingly Republican district. (Previous ranking: 24)

21. Wisconsin's 8th district (D) : There's an outside chance Rep. Steve Kagen (D) holds on but he is an underdog in a district where the DCCC has ceased spending. (Previous ranking: 50)

20. New Mexico's 2nd district (D): Republicans always said Rep. Harry Teague's (D) vote for cap and trade doomed his reelection chances. They were right. (Previous ranking: 14)

19. New Hampshire's 1st district (D): While the state's 2nd district has improved for Democrats of late, this seat hasn't. Former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta (R) is a favorite against Rep. Carol Shea Porter (D). (Previous ranking: 19)

18. Florida's 2nd district (D): Rep. Allen Boyd narrowly survived a Democratic primary fight in late August. He looks likely to be on the losing end of the race Tuesday against funeral home director Steve Southerland (R). (Previous ranking: 21)

17. Illinois' 10th district (R): The third time looks like the charm for Democrat Dan Seals in this open seat. But, you have got to love the web video from Republican Bob Dold -- featuring a seal. (Previous ranking: 27)

16. Florida's 8th district (D): Rep. Alan Grayson's unapologetic liberal approach to politics has won him some national admirers but will cost him this Orlando-area seat. (Previous ranking: 22)

15. Ohio's 15th district (D) (Previous ranking: 13)
14. Pennsylvania's 3rd district (D) (Previous ranking: 28)
13. Illinois' 11th district (D) (Previous ranking: 12
12. Florida's 24th district (D) (Previous ranking: 11)
11. Colorado's 4th district (D) (Previous ranking: 8)
10. Tennessee's 8th district (D) (Previous ranking: 30)
9. Ohio's 1st district (D) (Previous ranking: 10)
8. Indiana's 8th district (D) (Previous ranking: 9)
7. Kansas' 3rd district (D) (Previous ranking: 7)
6. Delaware's at-large district (R) (Previous ranking: 6)
5. Louisiana's 2nd district (R) (Previous ranking: 5)
4. New York's 29th district (D) (Previous ranking: 4)
3. Arkansas' 2nd district (D) (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Louisiana's 3rd district (D) (Previous ranking: 2)
1. Tennessee's 6th district (D) (Previous ranking: 1)

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | October 29, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  The Line  
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