Is the much-rumored Democratic contraction underway in the House? The retirement of Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) has unleashed a flurry of prognostication. Baird is the third Democrat to retire in a hotly contested district in the last month, with a total of 10 Democratic retirees for the year. Is this a bad omen for Democrats or is it too early to call?

  • Potential Game-Changer, writes Chris Cillizza at The Fix: "Given the demographics, Republicans are likely to target Baird's seat in 2010. More broadly, Baird's retirement will increase chatter within Democratic circles that potentially vulnerable members are jumping ship rather than running the risk of losing their seats in what is shaping up to be a tough 2010 election."
  • Officially Worried Eric Kleefeld at the left-wing Talking Points Memo writes: "Baird's district could have a close race. It voted twice for George W. Bush by narrow margins -- 48%-46% in 2000, and 50%-48% in 2004 -- before switching to Barack Obama in 2008 by a 53%-45% margin."
  • "A Very Good Sign for Us," writes Cassy Fiano at the conservative Stop the ACLU blog: " If Democrats keep going the way they're going, they're bound to see monumental losses in 2010. Their options are basically to either retire, go against Obama & Co., or get voted out of office. The way I see it, these three are just ahead of the curve."
  • Too Soon to Say, Watch Retiree Numbers writes Charlie Cook at National Journal: "This is still very early in the process and only Illinois, which has a Feb. 2 primary, has already seen its Nov. 2 filing deadline pass with no retirements other than that of Kirk." However, if the number of Democratic retirees balloons past 15, Republicans will have "a real opportunity to hit one out of the park."
  • It's Not About Retiree Numbers, It's About Psychology, writes Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic: "It almost doesn't matter whether the Democratic retirement rate appears normal (although most state filing deadlines are way off). It matters how the political class perceives the collection of decisions. The media will certainly try to find a pattern, and the more they talk about the pattern, the more the political ionosphere charges to the benefit of Republicans."