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Congressional Power Rankings

Pennsylvania is ground zero for House races in the looming midterm elections, with at least 10 of its 19 districts legitimately in play and fiercely competitive. Congressional Power Rankings from are the most dynamic, richly reported and up-to-date political forecasts in the Keystone State, the best way to find out which races should be high on any political insider’s radar.

We combine voter registration data, historical voting trends, fundraising performance, polling, external forecasts, original reporting and more to gauge which races are the most competitive. Our rankings are constantly updated as news and developments on the ground require. Stories are posted on the site’s front page anytime the rankings change.

The congressional districts are ranked based solely on competitiveness, meaning No. 1 is the most closely contested in the state.

Pennsylvania's Congressional Districts [19]

District Ranking Area Incumbent Challengers Analysis
Open (Joe Sestak running for Senate) 01

Suburban Philadelphia, including most of Delaware County

Open (Joe Sestak running for Senate) Bryan Lentz (D), Pat Meehan (R), Jim Schneller (Ind.)

With Sestak leaving to run for Senate, this swing district in a swing county is one of the country’s most competitive House races. It pits Meehan, a former county District Attorney with name recognition in the district, against Lentz, a rising-star state Representative. Schneller could be an X-Factor by pulling votes from Meehan. Barack Obama won the district by double-digits.
Cook Index: D+3
CQ Rating: Toss-up
Rothenberg: Pure Toss-up

Paul Kanjorski (D) 02

Northeast Pennsylvania, including Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties

Paul Kanjorski (D) Lou Barletta (R)

The longtime incumbent was seen as the most vulnerable Democrat in Congress in 2008 before a wave of support for Obama helped beat Barletta. Now he faces Barletta for the third time in 8 years, in what remains a highly-competitive district. Democrats hold a wide registration edge, but the anti-incumbent climate keeps the race tight.
Cook Index: D+4
CQ Rating: Toss-up
Rothenberg: Toss-up/Tilt R

Kathy Dahlkemper (D) 03

Northwest Pennsylvania, including Erie, Meadville, Sharon and Butler

Kathy Dahlkemper (D) Mike Kelly (R)

Even with a large war chest in a cheap media market, the freshman is vulnerable after voting for health care reform and taking a lead on abortion compromises in the bill. Kelly loaned his campaign more than $300,000 to win the primary, and will need to raise more to compete with Dahlkemper’s big war chest. John McCain narrowly beat Obama.
Cook Index: R+3
CQ Rating: Toss-up
Rothenberg: Toss-up/Tilt R

Patrick Murphy (D) 04

Suburban Philadelphia, mostly in Bucks County

Patrick Murphy (D) Mike Fitzpatrick (R)

Republicans hope they have the right candidate to take back the seat—Fitzpatrick, who lost it to Murphy in 2006 after one term. Murphy has a national fundraising base and his relationship with Obama means he can bring in any help he needs. But Fitzpatrick’s strong fundraising and the national climate increasingly make this a battleground.
Cook Index: D+2
CQ Rating: Leans D
Rothenberg: D Favored

Chris Carney (D) 05

Northeast Pennsylvania, including all or parts of Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Pike, Snyder and Susquehanna counties

Chris Carney (D) Tom Marino (R)

Marino, a former U.S. Attorney, won a three-way primary to take on Carney. Marino’s fundraising has disappointed, but Carney’s health care vote in the conservative district makes him vulnerable, even with a big financial edge. McCain won the district by 9 points.
Cook Index: R+8
CQ Rating: Leans D
Rothenberg: Toss-up/Tilt D

Jim Gerlach (R) 06

Suburban Philadelphia, including parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties

Jim Gerlach (R) Manan Trivedi

Democrats have repeatedly targeted the district since it was drawn for Gerlach in 2002, and have repeatedly come close. But Gerlach is a fierce campaigner and potent fundraiser. GOP hopes for holding the seat rose when he abandoned a gubernatorial run to seek reelection, but Democrats picked their stronger general election candidate in Trivedi. National climate makes it a tough pick-up for the Democrats.
Cook Index: D+4
CQ Rating: Likely R
Rothenberg: R Favored

Charlie Dent (R) 07

Lehigh Valley, including all of Northampton County and most of Lehigh County

Charlie Dent (R) John Callahan (D), Jake Towne (Ind.)

Democrats are heavily targeting the district, with Callahan, the mayor of Bethlehem and a White House recruit, matching Dent’s fundraising almost dollar for dollar. It could be a promising pick-up opportunity for Democrats, but the national climate means Callahan has to climb uphill.
Cook Index: D+2
CQ Rating: Leans R
Rothenberg: R Favored

Mark Critz (D) 08

Southwest Pennsylvania, including parts of Armstrong, Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties

Mark Critz (D) Tim Burns (R)

This southwestern district dropped far down the list after Critz won the May 18 special election to finish out John Murtha’s term. Critz faces Burns again in November, and while he has the edge, Burns’ ability to self-finance a campaign keeps the race competitive.
Cook Index: R+1
CQ Rating: Leans D
Rothenberg: D Favored

Jason Altmire (D) 09

The suburbs of Pittsburgh; Beaver, Lawrence and Mercer counties

Jason Altmire (D) Keith Rothfus (R)

Democrats make up just over half the electorate, and Altmire may have protected himself by opposing health care reform. Rothfus upset Mary Beth Buchanan in the primary, but has a much tougher task in challenging Altmire in the expensive media market. McCain won the district by double-digits.
Cook Index: R+6
CQ Rating: Likely D
Rothenberg: D Favored

Tim Holden (D) 10

Central Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and all of Dauphin, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties

Tim Holden (D) Dave Argall (R)

Holden is a political survivor, who beat an incumbent even after Republicans tried to redistrict him out of his old seat. He voted against health care reform, and Argall was expected to mount a stiffer challenge but has struggled to raise money.
Cook Index: R+6
CQ Rating: Likely D
Rothenberg: D Favored

Todd Platts (R) 11

Adams and York counties, and parts of Cumberland County

Todd Platts (R) Ryan Sanders (D)

Platts was floated for a job heading the Government Accountability Office, but now appears to be crusing to reelection in a district John McCain easily won in 2008.
Cook Index: R+12
CQ Rating: Safe R

Allyson Schwartz (D) 12

Parts of Montgomery County and much of northeast Philadelphia

Allyson Schwartz (D) Dee Adcock (R)

Schwartz is a potent fundraiser in this increasingly Democratic district, in which the GOP has not put forward well-funded challengers in recent years. Democrats enjoy a wide registration advantage and Obama won by almost 20 points.
Cook Index: D+7
CQ Rating: Safe D

Joe Pitts (R) 13

Lancaster County and a large part of Chester County

Joe Pitts (R) Lois Herr (D)

Democrats have long been stymied in their attempts to unseat the longtime incumbent Pitts, and John McCain edged Barack Obama in the district thanks to a large Republican voter registration edge.
Cook Index: R+8
CQ Rating: Safe R

Mike Doyle (D) 14

Pittsburgh, as well as parts of the Pittsburgh suburbs

Mike Doyle (D) Melissa Halusczak (R)

This overwhelmingly Democratic district hasn’t been in play for years, and 2010 appears to be no different. The Pittsburgh heart of the district is solid blue, Doyle has in the past won reelection by as much as 90 percent of the vote, and Obama won the district by a whopping 50 points.
Cook Index: D+19
CQ Rating: Safe D

Glenn Thompson (R) 15

A vast amount of central Pennsylvania, made up of all or part of 17 counties

Glenn Thompson (R) Michael Pipe (D)

In its present form, this heavily conservative district has never been represented by a Democrat. Thompson is only a freshman, having succeeded the retired John Peterson. But John McCain won the district easily, and Democrats never play seriously there.
Cook Index: R+9
CQ Rating: Safe R

Tim Murphy (R) 16

Parts of Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties

Tim Murphy (R) Dan Connolly (D)

Murphy won reelection in 2008 by almost 30 points and McCain won by double-digits. Democrats are not expected to seriously compete in November.
Cook Index: R+6
CQ Rating: Safe R

Chaka Fattah (D) 17

West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, Cheltenham Township

Chaka Fattah (D) Rick Hellberg (R)

Outside a failed mayoral run in 2007, electoral setbacks are foreign to this longtime incumbent, and with a Democratic registration of about 83 percent, Fattah has one of the most blue districts there is.
Cook Index: D+38
CQ Rating: Safe D

Bob Brady (D) 18

Center City and south Philadelphia, Chester, small parts of Delaware County

Bob Brady (D) None, only Republican candidate knocked off the ballot

There are few incumbents in the country who are safer than Brady, who is known just as much—if not more so—for his role as chairman of the city Democratic Party. Democrats make up about 80 percent of the electorate.
Cook Index: D+35
CQ Rating: Safe D

Bill Shuster (R) 19

A wide swath of south-central Pennsylvania, including Bedford, Franklin, Fulton, Huntington and Somerset counties

Bill Shuster (R) No opponent

Seen by many as the most Republican district in the state, the seat has never been held by a Democrat in its current form. McCain won the district by almost 30 points.
Cook Index: R+17
CQ Rating: Safe R