In 2006 a great many Republican incumbents who had expected their ability to bring pork barrel spending projects to their districts to save them come election day received a rude awakening. This year some Democrats appear to have suffered the same fate. In Democrats lose centuries of seniority in House, Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times writes:
All told, with about a dozen races still uncalled, Democrats have already shed 376 years of congressional experience, and that could go as high as 430 years if five other Democrats lose races in which returns show they are trailing.
Losing outright were 18-term incumbent Minnesota Rep. James L. Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; 14-term South Carolina Rep. John M. Spratt, chairman of the Budget Committee; and 17-term Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
To this one can add David Obey, chairmen of the Appropriations Committee, who retired rather than face the voters again, along with senior Appropriations subcommittee chair Alan B. Mollohan, who lost in the primary and Solomon Ortiz, a subcommittee chair of Armed Services who is behind in his reelection bid. Appropriations, Transportation and Armed Services are all considered prime assignments for members who want to ship government bacon back to their districts.
Looking at the current membership rolls, a lot more members than just the chairs got axed. These veterans and most of the other Democrats who got axed have in common is they all represented districts in which the voters lived in smaller cities and rural areas. When one looks at the C-Span interactive map of House races one can clearly see how Democrats in the next Congress will overwhelming represent major metropolitan areas.