Ohio Congressional Races-Patrick Ruffini wanted me to breakdown the Ohio congressional map to see what redistricting would do. The current split has 11-7 Republican and Ohio lost a seat due to the Census numbers. I'm haven't gotten my hands on any demographic data at this point, but there are some key changes that look interesting. As in many states, incumbent protection seemed to be the underlying theme. LaTourette's (R) 14th looks less spidery and a bit more secure, getting more exurban areas of Cleveland and Akron. Strickland's (D) 6th hugs the Ohio River more, grabbing Youngstown away from Trafficant's old district. This larger percentage of old factory towns looks to be incumbent-protection, as Bob Ney's (R) 18th seems to have been shored up with a bigger swath of rural territory away from the river.
Three districts catch my eye even before looking at the details. Dayton's 3rd district got much more rural, about 5% extra Republican. Tony Hall (D) is not running and the open seat looks to be winnable for the Republicans. Former Dayton mayor Mike Turner(R) could grab the seat from Hall's former aid Rich Carne.
Sherrod Brown's (D) 13th is an interesting district, as its one of the snaky districts that try to figure out what to do with the area just outside Cleveland. It holds the rust-belt towns of Lorain and Elyria west of Cleveland but swings down to pick up western Akron. This district is safe for Brown but would look winnable for the right Republican down the line if the politically-attractive Brown decides to run for higher office. Ed Oliveros doesn't look like the guy for the job, but watch this seat in 2004 (if Brown goes after Voivovich's senate seat) or 2006 (open Governor seat assuming Taft gets a second term or DeWine's senate seat) for a possible Republican pickup.
The four-ring circus will be the new 17th, which stretches from parts of Akron through my old home turf of Kent to the rust-belt towns of Warren and Niles north of Youngstown. Democratic nominee Tim Ryan represents the Warren-Niles area on the east side of the district in the state senate while Republican nominee Ann Womer Benjamin is the state rep for Kent's Portage country towards the west of the district. I wasn't all that impressed with Benjamin while she was Kent's state rep, but she's got a way-slicker Web site than Ryan's which is still a work-in-progress.
There are two big wild cards in the race. Union activist Warren Davis has filed as an independent, running largely against Tom Sawyer's pro-NAFTA stand. Huck Finn (D-Mo) voted the party line. With Sawyer out of the race, being knocked off by labor-friendly Ryan in the primary, Davis' raison d'être is gone; he may back off from the race. That still leaves Trafficant himself running as an independent. A straight Ryan-Benjamin race would look to be something like 56-44 Ryan, but if the Sultan of Special Orders can pull double digits, Benjamin could squeak in with a mid-40s plurality.
The best the Democrats can hope for is the status-quo, but they could easily lose the 3rd and the 17th could get squirrely if Trafficant polls well. A 11-6 Republican split looks to be the over-and-under, with 10-7 being possible if the Democrats can hang on to the 3rd.