North Carolina 7: Democratic Seat Moves from Toss-Up to Safe Republican

Nathan L. Gonzales January 8, 2014 · 2:56 PM EDT

The House handicapping whiplash continues. Just days after Pennsylvania Republican Jim Gerlach announced his retirement giving Democrats a good opportunity to win his 6th District seat, North Carolina Democrat Mike McIntyre announced his retirement, moving his 7th District from Pure Toss-Up to Safe Republican. 

McIntyre has been a consistent GOP target, particularly after the last round of redistricting, when Republicans redrew his district to be much more Republican. Mitt Romney won the 7th District, 59 percent to 40 percent in 2012. John McCain carried it 58 percent to 42 percent in 2008 and President George W. Bush won it 62 percent to 38 percent in 2004.

In the face of long odds, McIntyre prevailed last cycle, 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, over Republican David Rouzer.

The bottom line is that if McIntyre could only squeak out a victory in a presidential year against a nominee who was regarded as running an underwhelming campaign, what other Democrat is going to be able to get elected to Congress in this district in the near future?

Right now, the only Democratic congressman running for re-election in a comparable district is West Virginia’s Nick Rahall. President Obama lost his 3rd District, 65 percent to 33 percent, in 2012.

After Rahall, there is a small list of battle-tested Democratic incumbents who represent districts that are more Democratic than North Carolina’s 7th. Georgia’s John Barrow (55 percent Romney), Minnesota’s Collin Peterson (54 percent Romney), Florida’s Patrick Murphy (52 percent Romney), Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber (50 percent Romney) and Texas’s Pete Gallego (51 percent Romney).

It’s difficult to imagine a Democratic candidate being able to win a district such as North Carolina’s 7th without having a well-established, moderate reputation. That’s a big reason why we’re moving McIntyre’s seat from Pure Toss-Up to Currently Safe for Republicans in the Rothenberg Political Report ratings.