October 23rd, 2020


Dems are still not favored to take back the House

Amber Phillips

By Amber Phillips The Washington Post

Published Sept. 27, 2016

Dems are still not favored to take back the House

Theoretically, Democrats could take back control of the House of Representatives. But right now, it doesn't look likely.

That's had less to do with how the House races are shaping up -- aside from a few shuffles here and there, our top 10 races most likely to flip parties haven't changed much since we visited them in March -- and more to do with the tightening of the presidential race.

Republican-held seats still make up eight of our 10 seats most likely to flip parties. But to win the House, Democrats need Hillary Clinton to win by a fairly big margin if they want to end Republicans' historically large majority. To do that, they need Donald Trump to tank. And as Washington Post columnist Stu Rothenberg accurately points out: "Trump is not at this point the down-ballot disaster that some speculated he would be."

(The current breakdown in the House is 246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, meaning Democrats need to turn 30 GOP seats blue.)

One thing we need to note about the latest rankings: The top three races most likely to flip are actually not on this list. That's because Florida's 2nd (D), Florida's 10th (R) and Virginia 4th (R) are all open seats that almost everyone agrees will flip parties, thanks to redistricting that have made these seats downright hostile for the party of the lawmaker currently representing it. (For more on those races and the impacts of redistricting on the 2016 elections, you can read up here and here.)

That opens us up to talk about a wider array of races, which are ranked in order of least to most likely to flip parties. And before we get to the line, we have a special treat for you: The Fix's inaugural House race ratings, at the top of this post.

To the line!

10. Nebraska 2nd, Rep. Brad Ashford (D): Democrats say this race is pulling away for them, with a recent poll showing Ashford up over his Republican challenger, retired one-star Air Force general Don Bacon, by double digits. But Republicans aren't giving up on this takeover opportunity; they think Ashford's win in 2014 was because of a weak incumbent rather than his strength as a candidate. (Previous ranking: 10)

9. Florida 18th, OPEN (D): This might be the most competitive Democratic-held seat on the map. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) is trying to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, leaving his swingy Palm Beach-area seat for the taking. Businessman Randy Perkins (D) and Afghanistan War veteran Brian Mast (R) are going after each other -- Republicans say they have enough opposition to turn voters off of Perkins. (He ecently told Mast, who is a war double amputee, to "be a man and stand behind your own ads.") Democrats say their guy has enough money to withstand any Republican attacks. (Previous ranking: None)

8. New Hampshire 1st, Rep. Frank Guinta (R): Guinta is badly weakened by admitting last year he took illegal campaign contributions from his parents, but he somehow made it through the primary. Now he's facing his fourth-straight matchup against former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), who isn't necessarily loved by voters either. It's an open question which candidate a majority of voters in this swingy-district choose. Right now, the edge goes to Shea-Porter given Clinton is leading the state by an average of 5 points, according to RealClearPolitics. (The Democratic group House Majority PAC just put out a poll showing her up 10 points.) (Previous ranking: None.)

7. Florida 26th, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R): Now we approach the first of the redistricted seats to come into play. A court-ordered redrawing of eight of Florida's gerrymandered congressional districts has tilted the overall map slightly toward Democrats. That's true for Curbelo's new Miami area district, which is Democratic-leaning and majority-Hispanic. As such, Curbelo is one of the few House Republicans who has said he won't support Trump. But Republicans thanked the campaign gods when former Rep. Joe Garcia (D) won the Democratic primary. In 2014 an investigation accused his office of creating hundreds of fake absentee ballots. More recently, Garcia apologized for making a comment that Clinton "is under no illusions that you want to have sex with her." (Previous ranking: 8)

6. Texas 23rd, Rep. Will Hurd (R): This perpetually competitive district has the longest stretch of U.S.-Mexico border of any district. Its high Latino population makes Hurd one of Republicans' most endangered Republicans, especially in the Year of Trump. Former Rep. Pete Gallego (D) is trying to take advantage of the presidential dynamics to win this vast San Antonio and El Paso-area seat. Both candidates are competent, organized and well-funded, meaning this race will probably be a nail-biter to the very end. Like it often is. (Previous ranking: None)

5. Illinois 10th, Rep. Bob Dold (R): Dold is in the category of Republicans who could do everything right but still lose. His seat in the northern Chicago suburbs is one of the most Democratic districts Republicans hold this cycle. (Thus Dold has also said he'd never support Trump.) Former Rep. Brad Schneider (D), whom Dold knocked off in 2014, wants his seat back. Given the district's dynamics combined with the state's heavy lean for Clinton, he has a decent shot. (Previous ranking: 7)

4. Minnesota 2nd, OPEN (R): Rep. John Kline (R) is retiring after more than a decade representing this Twin Cities suburban seat. And Kline is ostensibly not happy with his potential successor, outspoken talk radio host Jason Lewis, who won his primary after calling young, single women "not-thinking," questioning the need to have fought the Civil War and saying the "white population" has been "committing political suicide" and "cultural suicide." Democrats say hospital executive Angela Craig (D) is raising the money she needs to take this slightly Republican-leaning district. (Previous ranking: None.)

3. Nevada 4th, Rep. Cresent Hardy (R): The moment Hardy, a political novice, won a surprise victory in 2014, Democrats started counting down to November 2016 for the chance to kick him out. But Republicans say not so fast: A RealClearPolitics average of polls show Trump is slightly up in this purple, libertarian-leaning state. Democrats nominated one of the most polished candidates this cycle, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D), to knock him off. But thanks to Trump's surprisingly strong performance in Nevada, if we kept the top three most-likely-to-flip states on this list, this race's ranking wouldn't have budged from March. (Previous ranking: 6)

2. Iowa 1st, Rep. Rod Blum (R): The district most likely to flip without the interference of redrawn borders is still Blum's. Blum was a somewhat surprising surfer on the GOP's 2014 wave (Obama won the district by a 14-point margin in 2012). And Blum has voted as if he were representing a district Mitt Romney won by 14 points. He faces former Cedar Rapids city councilwoman Monica Vernon. (Previous ranking: 5)

1. Florida 13th, Rep. David Jolly (R): First Jolly wasn't running for reelection, betting his political fortunes on the Senate seat instead. Now he's back. But he's facing one of the most recognizable faces in Florida politics: former governor Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat who has run two failed statewide races in the past four years and is now running in his hometown district, newly redrawn to favor Democrats. This race could be a nail biter. Republicans say Crist isn't well liked, but it's notable Jolly can't count on a lot of outside help -- he's burned bridges with the establishment after criticizing the party for its fundraising demands during a "60 Minutes" segment. (Previous ranking: 2)

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