Sanford Joins “the Underachievers”

Kyle Kondik, House Editor

In winning his special election victory on Tuesday night, incoming Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) joined a dubious but sizable bipartisan House caucus: The Underachievers.

Many House observers — including the Crystal Ball — have focused, understandably, on the small number of House members elected from districts won by the other party’s presidential nominee. These represent obvious targets for the other party, although there are only a handful of these districts (nine Democrats reside in seats won by Mitt Romney, and 17 Republicans occupy seats won by President Obama).

So in an effort to expand their maps, strategists from both parties will also look at The Underachievers, who ran behind their party’s presidential nominee in their districts. Sanford is in the club because he won about 54% of the vote in the special election, but Mitt Romney won about 58% in the district in last November’s presidential election. Close to three of every 10 House representatives are members of The Underachievers. These 60 Democrats and 63 Republicans could be vulnerable in a primary or general election, but there are plenty of extenuating circumstances that explain their underperformance, too.

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