First of all, District 137 is as very, very strong Republican district. I don’t think you could intentionally draw up a better district for a Republican. Both Kerry and Gore only got 28% in the district in 2000 and 2004. Cleland got 30%, Barnes got 31% – while Taylor did a little better in 2002 with 43%.
This evidence suggests that any Republican (even David Graves) would beat a Democrat in a race for this seat. Even I believe that if Graves decides to run for re-election the best chance of knocking him off would be in the Republican primary.
However, I’ve done some number crunching, and there is some evidence to suggest that the right kind of Democrat could win this seat, particularly if Graves is the Republican candiate in 2006.
The evidence rests with U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall’s performance in District 137 in 2004. Marshall’s Congressional district overlaps with about 2/3rd of the voting population of Graves district. While Kerry only did slightly better in those precincts (29% vs. 28% overall), Marshall won those same precincts with a whopping 55% of the vote – besting Kerry by 26 percentage points!
While I think it is unlikely that Graves will end up being the Republican candidate for this seat in 2006, if he is, I believe, with all of his baggage, a Democrat could win this seat.
Is that enough to get Graves to resign or for the party to field a strong candidate against him?