The presentation for Texas Weekly's list of the most competitive races in Texas is lifted from the inventors of the federal terror watch, ranking districts by the threat to each incumbent (or incumbent party, in the case of open districts) and giving each group garish colors. Yellow means there's trouble on the sidewalk. Orange is trouble on the front porch. Red is trouble walking in the door.
And for the last week: We end the 2010 cycle with both of the congressional races on the list in the Red zone, along with six state House seats, all held by Democrats. Eleven more House spots — eight held by the Ds and three by the Rs — end the pre-election speculation in Orange, and another dozen — 8 Ds, 4 Rs — are in the Yellow. It feels, subjectively, like a big Republican year, which is why most of the people in trouble are Democrats.
The biggest modern-era advantage that Republicans have attained in the House was in the 2002 election. That margin — 88 Republicans, 62 Democrats — has since shrunk to 76-74 (it widened to 77-73 when Chuck Hopson left the Ds for the Rs last year). The swing seats are mostly held by Democrats, which is one more reason that most of the races below involve the party's incumbents.
Republicans should pick up at least four seats and as many as ten on Tuesday. If our crystal ball is right, their number would be somewhere between 81 and 87 come January, with Democrats at 63 to 69.