It’s the homestretch before the Nov. 8 midterm election and candidates and analysts have a clearer forecast of the results: It’s not good news for Democrats hoping to retain majority of the House.
“Democrats are gonna lose seats,” said Chris Warshaw, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The question, Warshaw said, is how much Democrats can mitigate their losses.
President Joe Biden’s remaining political agenda is dependent on Democrats controlling the House. But high inflation, a surge in spending from Republican PACS, favorable election maps in a number of GOP-controlled states, and historical trends that work against the party in power has analysts predicting a GOP takeover of the House is likely.
The positive for Democrats is that the Supreme Court Dobbs decision in June – which overturned the national right to abortion access – has energized its base of progressive activists and given moderates a reason to vote against Republicans.
Abortion in the midterms:Channeling abortion outrage, Democratic women push for upsets in Senate elections
The non-partisan, data-crunching FiveThirtyEight web site indicates voters narrowly favor (44.9%-44.6%) a Republican over a Democrat on a generic ballot. Republicans need only a net gain of five seats to win back the chamber.
When it comes to small dollar fundraising, Democrats are winning, according to Warshaw. But outside spending from Republican PACs are also making a difference.
“The Republican super PACs and conservative leaning super PACs just have raised enormous amounts of money over the past two or three months,” Warshaw noted. “That’s extended the playing field for them.”
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On the Senate:These are the midterm election races to watch that will determine who controls the Senate
Republicans are counting on high inflation and the pocketbooks of voters as they try to wrestle control of the House from Democrats.
“When there’s a poor economy, that helps whoever’s not in power,” said Warshaw. “And right now with high inflation, people’s real incomes are stagnant or maybe going down. That certainly is going to help Republicans.”
Here are the House races to watch in November that could help determine control of the chamber (* denotes incumbent):
Texas-34: Mayra Flores* (R) vs. Vicente Gonzalez* (D)
Texas’ 34th Congressional District is the epicenter of where Republicans are working to expand the conservative movement in South Texas. The traditionally blue district surprisingly flipped red when GOP Rep. Mayra Flores won a special election earlier this summer.
Flores is serving the remainder of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s term which is only until January. She’ll have to win the general election in November to serve a complete two year term. She’s up against Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.
A closer look at the Rio Grande Valley:Republicans made inroads with South Texas Latinos last election. Now, they’re hoping for a red wave
Gonzalez currently serves Texas’ 15th Congressional District, but after redistricting made it more red, he opted to run in the 34th. But it’s not an easy race for him.
A strong grassroots campaign effort from local Republicans in the Rio Grande Valley has energized Latino conservatives who are turning their backs from the Democratic party. Combined with a lack of Democratic outreach, Republicans are finding new opportunity in the historically blue region of South Texas.
California-22: David Valadao* (R) vs. Salas (D)
In California, a Republican – and Donald Trump foe – is facing a top Democratic recruit.
Rep. David Valadao is a rare survivor of Trump’s campaign against Republicans who voted to impeach him last year. Of the 10 who did so, only Valadao and Dan Newhouse of Washington made it to Election Day.
10 House Republicans voted to impeach:How are they faring now?
Democratic nominee Rudy Salas has Democrats excited about flipping the 22nd District blue. For years, Democrats have approached Salas to run against Valadao and he finally agreed this year.
Redistricting has put Valadao in a unique spot as one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents this cycle. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 17 percentage points in this district.
But the race is still rated as a toss up because Valadao’s impeachment vote could entice moderate voters and because inflation remains a top-of-mind issue among voters.
Colorado-08: Caraveo (D) vs. Kirkmeyer (R)
Thanks to the 2020 Census count, a brand new congressional seat is up for grabs in Colorado, one of a handful added around the country in redistricting and it’s a toss up.
Drawn by an independent commission, the district, which extends north from the Denver suburbs to Greeley, is more than 30% Latino. The area went for Trump in 2016, then Biden in 2020, so the race is considered one of the nation’s most competitive.
Redistricting:Voters get fewer choices as Democrats and Republicans dig partisan trenches
Democrats have nominated state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Mexican-American pediatrician who grew up in the area.
State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer emerged from a contentious primary to win the Republican nomination. Kirkmeyer previously served as Weld County Commissioner for 20 years.
Both party’s national campaign messages have been key issues in the toss up race. Caraveo has made abortion a top priority in her campaign. She was one of several Democratic state lawmakers who helped codify abortion rights into law in the Centennial State.
Kirkmeyer has been hammering Caraveo on crime and fentanyl at the southern border. She’s blamed Caraveo for rising fentanyl deaths in Colorado – pointing to a law Caraveo supported that decriminalized small possession of the drug.
Related:Sen. Lindsey Graham defends 15-week abortion ban bill, which lacks full GOP support
Maine-02: Jared Golden* (D) vs. Poliquin (R)
Former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin is running to reclaim his seat from Democratic Rep. Jared Golden after becoming one of many GOP lawmakers unseated in the 2018 blue wave.
First elected to Congress in 2014, Poliquin served four years before losing to Golden in a tight election where Golden eked out a 50.5%-49.5% win in 2018.
But this time around, Golden is on the defensive. Trump carried this largely rural district by 6 points in 2020. But the former Marine and one-time staffer to GOP Maine Sen. Susan Collins, has taken steps to distance himself from the national party by voting against Biden’s Build Back Better, the American Rescue Plan and other progressive priorities.
Republicans and Poliquin have attacked Golden for voting for the Inflation Reduction Act which passed the House in August on a party line vote with all Democrats voting in favor and no Republicans joining them.
Michigan-07: Elissa Slotkin* (D) vs. Barrett (R)
In swingy central Michigan, a moderate Democrat who made a name for herself flipping the district in 2018 faces her most difficult challenge yet.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running in Michigan’s newly drawn 7th district. The district is anchored around Lansing. Biden carried the seat by less than one point in 2020, and Trump carried it in 2016.
Slotkin was first elected in 2018, when she captured the traditionally GOP seat. She previously served in the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Slotkin has come under fire over a seven-month lease on a condo within Michigan’s Seventh Congressional District in Lansing. The lease ends in mid-November, which has raised questions about her residency in the district, The Detroit News reported.
She faces a top Republican recruit: state Sen. Tom Barrett. Barrett is an Army veteran who previously served in the state House.
Barrett is another Republican nominee who removed anti-abortion language from his campaign materials this summer following his primary win. He’d previously described himself as “100% pro life” without exception, but that language no longer exists on his campaign website.
New Hampshire-01: Chris Pappas* (D) vs. Leavitt (R)
Former Trump White House assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt won a competitive GOP primary in September to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.
Leavitt defeated her moderate opponent, former Trump official Matt Mowers. Although Mowers lost to Pappas two years ago, he was seen as a tougher candidate than Leavitt in this year’s general election.
Democrats and Pappas are hoping that Leavitt’s ties to Trump make her unpalatable to independents and moderate voters in New Hampshire.
Trump won the district in 2016 but it went to Biden in 2020. Leavitt, a former producer at the Granite State’s only television station in Manchester, WMUR, is running a highly competitive race against Pappas.
New Jersey-07: Tom Malinowski* (D) vs. Kean (R)
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is up for reelection in this New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District where voters are seeing a rematch.
Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. lost to Malinowski in 2020 by a little more than one percentage point. But this year is considered a much more favorable environment for Republicans with high inflation rates. And the Kean name remains popular in the Garden State where Kean’s namesake father was revered as governor during the 1980s.
Adding to Malinowski’s challenge is that he is currently facing an ongoing inquiry from the House Ethics Committee after he failed to properly report more than $3 million in stock trades.
Nevada-01: Dina Titus* (D) vs. Robertson (R)
The longest-serving member of the Nevada congressional delegation has a tough road this cycle.
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus’s once-safe seat was redrawn during redistricting. The new district contains part of Las Vegas, as well as Boulder City and Henderson and is now more than 30% Hispanic or Latino.
The Democratic Nevada Legislature redrew Titus’ district to give Democrats in other districts an edge. But the new map has also made Titus’ reelection far from a sure bet.
Titus was elected in 2012 and is the dean of Nevada’s Congressional delegation. She previously served as Democratic Majority Leader in the state Senate and worked as a college professor.
Republicans have nominated Mark Robertson a businessman and financial planner who previously served in the military, including a stint as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Robertson has blamed inflation on Titus and Democrats, for what he argued was excess federal spending during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Nevada, where abortion could prove to be a pivotal issue, Robertson announced opposition to any federal ban on abortion on his website.
“This issue should be left to the states and to the people,” his campaign website says.
North Carolina-13: Nickel (D) vs. Hines (R)
With incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd aiming for a higher seat in the Senate, North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District is an open seat.
Bo Hines, a 27-year-old political newcomer and former college football player, has Republicans aligned with Trump’s MAGA movement excited.
Hines was endorsed by Trump and has greatly borrowed from the former president’s speech and policy positions. He’s espoused Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and has vowed to stop “radical, Marxist leftists.”
Democrats hope Hines’ closeness to Trump in a red-tilting district will cost him the race in November. Hine’s opponent is state Sen. Wiley Nickel, who’s worked as a staffer with former Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama.
Nickel has made abortion access a centerpiece in his campaign and has promised voters he would vote to codify Roe v. Wade in the House.
Ohio-01: Steve Chabot* (R) vs. Landsman (D)
In a year when Democrats are playing defense in so many areas, they have a rare chance to press the attack and capture a seat in Ohio that Republicans have held for decades.
GOP Rep. Steve Chabot has represented this southwest Ohio district for more than a quarter of a century since his election in 1994, even acting as a House impeachment manager during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
But redistricting has turned the once safe GOP seat much more vulnerable to the incumbent. Chabot’s new district covers an area that Biden won by almost nine points, giving Democrats a chance to unseat the longtime representative.
Redistricting challenge:Ohio Republicans appeal congressional redistricting map to U.S. Supreme Court
The Democratic candidate in the race is Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, a former public school teacher.
Texas-28: Henry Cuellar* (D) vs. Garcia (R)
Texas’ 28th Congressional District is another seat in the Rio Grande Valley where Republicans are looking to make inroads with conservative Latinos.
Cassy Garcia is the Republican challenger in this race, taking on Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has served in the House since 2005. Redistricting made his seat much more competitive, which opened an opportunity for Republicans to unseat the longtime incumbent.
Garcia’s political resume and outreach to Latinos has Republicans confident about flipping the seat. She worked for Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and was appointed by Trump to serve as a commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
But Cuellar has his own conservative credentials. He is one of the last surviving anti-abortion Democrats and also is is rated as one of the most conservative Democrats in the House.
Cuellar was the sole House Democrat earlier in the summer to voted against codifying abortion rights into federal law. He could be Democrats’ best shot at fending off a complete GOP takeover of South Texas.
Virginia-07: Abigail Spanberger* (D) vs. Vega (R)
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is in a fight for her political life against her Republican opponent, Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.
The National Republican Campaign Committee has aggressively targeted Spanberger. The moderate Democrat has twice defeated Republicans. In 2018 she unseated Tea Party Republican incumbent Dave Brat when she was first elected to the House. She then beat state Del. Nick Freitas in 2020 to win reelection.
Democrats have rallied voters following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. The Democratic Party of Virginia slammed Vega’s anti-abortion views as “too extreme” for the district and Spanberger recently launched an ad campaign on the issue.
The ad highlights a comment Vega made about abortion on the campaign trail, where she questioned the likelihood of pregnancy after rape, saying: “It’s not something happening organically,” according to audio obtained by Axios.
Contributing: Mabinty Quarshie
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