In 2018, the Democrats took the house back thanks to a blue wave that ran right through America’s suburbs. Now the question is, can you hold on to that majority?
The answer is likely yes, as Democrats are clear favorites according to the final version of FiveThirtyEight’s House’s prediction, giving them a 97-100 chance of gaining control of the house.
Overall, the house competition appears to be significantly less dramatic than the race for the presidency or the Senate, both of which are far more competitive. Democrats currently control 233 seats out of the GOP’s 201 seats, with retired libertarian MP Justin Amash being the only third party member in the chamber. To win the house back, Republicans would need 17 seats net profit to get a majority of 218. This is one reason why their chances of taking the board back are so slim (3 in 100). That’s many house seats in a presidential cycle since a party has only won that many twice in the last 10 presidential elections.
But perhaps the even bigger reason Democrats are preferred to keep control of the House – and maybe win the White House and even the Senate – is that the electoral environment is looking pretty good for their party. If we look at our general Congressional ballot tracker poll average, which includes all polls asking respondents if they want to vote for Democrat or Republican in their local Congressional race, Democrats lead 7.3 percentage points. That margin speaks for a strong national environment for Democrats and is not far from the 8.7-point lead Democrats had in the 2018 midterm elections. And as the following graphic shows, this lead hasn’t fluctuated much over the past year.
What this meant in practical terms is that the general electoral environment has increased the House Democrats’ chances, but most importantly, it has given a leg to those who captured Republican seats in 2018 and are now seeking re-election. Of the 41 Democrats who changed seats in 2018 – without one who stepped down and another who switched parties – 30 have at least one 3-4 shot to hold onto their seat. This is despite the fact that President Trump carried 20 of those 41 seats when he won in 2016. These conditions, along with strong democratic fundraising and mediocre Republican candidate recruitment have left a fairly short list of Democratic incumbents in many key races at serious risk of defeat, as the table below shows.
|circle||Official||Upside down GOP seat in 2018||Chance of winning||rating|
|MN-07||Collin Peterson||19%||Probably R.|
|NM-02||Xochitl Torres Klein||✓||55||Toss-up|
|SC-01||Joe Cunningham||✓||64||Lean D.|
|CA-48||Harley Rouda||✓||68||Lean D.|
|NV-04||Steven Horsford||72||Lean D.|
|NY-22||Anthony Brindisi||✓||73||Lean D.|
|CA-39||Gil Cisneros||✓||74||Lean D.|
|GA-06||Lucy McBath||✓||74||Lean D.|
|TX-07||Lizzie Pannill Fletcher||✓||75||Lean D.|
|NJ-07||Tom Malinowki||✓||76||Probably D.|
|OR-04||Peter DeFazio||78||Probably D.|
|VA-07||Abigail Spanberger||✓||79||Probably D.|
|FL-27||Donna Shalala||✓||81||Probably D.|
|FL-26||Debbie Mucarsel-Powell||✓||82||Probably D.|
|NV-03||Susie Lee||83||Probably D.|
|NH-01||Chris Pappas||84||Probably D.|
|TX-32||Colin Allred||✓||84||Probably D.|
|WI-03||Ron child||84||Probably D.|
|IA-03||Cindy Axne||✓||84||Probably D.|
|IL-06||Sean Casten||✓||87||Probably D.|
|VA-02||Elaine Luria||✓||87||Probably D.|
|IL-14||Lauren Underwood||✓||87||Probably D.|
|IA-01||Abby Finkenauer||✓||87||Probably D.|
|AZ-01||Tom O’Halleran||88||Probably D.|
|PA-17||Conor lamb||✓||89||Probably D.|
|CA-10||Josh Harder||✓||92||Probably D.|
|PA-08||Matt Cartwright||92||Probably D.|
|WED-11||Haley Stevens||✓||93||Probably D.|
|NJ-03||Andy Kim||✓||93||Probably D.|
|MN-02||Angie Craig||✓||93||Probably D.|
|CA-45||Katie Porter||✓||94||Probably D.|
|NC-01||G.K. Butterfield||94||Probably D.|
|WED-08||Elissa Slotkin||✓||94||Probably D.|
|NY-19||Antonio Delgado||✓||94||Probably D.|
In other words, these seemingly more competitive seats are for the most part not necessarily that tight, which limits the GOP’s path back to a majority. Yet a handful of Democratic incumbents are at risk of loss. In fact, the most vulnerable incumbent of either party is Minnesota Democratic MP Collin Peterson, who has a 5-way chance of re-election in a seat Trump won by 31 points four years ago. according to Daily Kos Elections. In addition to Peterson, five other Democrats fall into the “toss-up” area in our forecast: representatives Kendra Horn from Oklahoma, TJ Cox from California, Max Rose from New York, Xochitl Torres Small from New Mexico and Ben McAdams from Utah. Of this quintet, Cox is the outlier because he’s the only one sitting in a seat that’s pretty democratic at the presidential level – Trump lost him by 16 points in 2016 – while the others hold all the seats that Trump won by at least 7 points Has . But Cox’s seat is probably one of the better recruiting situations for candidates for the GOP than an ex-Representative. David Valadao, who Cox defeated by less than 1 point in 2018, is back for a rematch.
Aside from the strength of their incumbents, the Democrats have benefited from the sheer number of Republican retirements this year. Not to mention a few primary GOP challenges As a result, some established companies lost their renominations. Although the tenure advantage is not nearly as strong as it used to be, it is more difficult for the incumbent party to keep open seats, and the disproportionate number of Republicans leave the house left a vulnerable turf to defend. As the table below shows, this means that Republicans will defend almost all 17 open seats where neither party is a safe bet.
|APPROX. 50||R.||5||Probably R.|
While Democrats are downright favorites in only three GOP-held seats, this trio makes up half of the seats six seats that Hillary Clinton wore in 2016 that Republicans still control (GOP incumbents run in the other three). Two of them are thanks to almost democratic pickups North Carolina’s judicial redistributionwhich made these seats much more democratic and depressed the retirement of two Republican incumbents. And the resignation of Republican MP Will Hurd in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, who Trump lost by 3 points in 2016, has given Democratic candidate Gina Ortiz Jones a clear head start there. In addition, Democrats roughly even bet on winning a number of other open Republican districts, including suburban seats like the 5th Congressional District of Indiana near Indianapolis and the 2nd Congressional District of New York on Long Island, both of which have been left open through retirements . You also have a chance to win GOP-controlled seats where the incumbent has lost the renomination, such as the 5th Congressional District of Virginia and the 3rd Congressional District of Colorado. Additionally, only one open seat held by Democrats – Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District – is even in play, and the Democrats have a nearly 9 in 10 chance of keeping it.
After all, the Democrats are also in an enviable position because they can also defeat some Republican incumbents in competitive competitions. While only 13 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election have less than a 3-4 chance of winning re-election, slightly more Republicans – 14 – are in the same position. The only advantage for Republicans, however, is that none of their incumbents is a clear underdog, as the table below shows. Most of these races could be of some reach for Democrats in hopes of improving their margins.
|circle||Official||Chance of winning||rating|
|NJ-02||Jeff Van Drew||50||Toss-up|
|MN-01||Jim Hawthorn||60||Lean R.|
|NE-02||Don Bacon||60||Lean R.|
|IL-13||Rodney Davis||63||Lean R.|
|NY-24||John Katko||64||Lean R.|
|NC-08||Richard Hudson||66||Lean R.|
|AR-02||French hill||66||Lean R.|
|MO-02||Ann Wagner||69||Lean R.|
|TX-21||Chip Roy||71||Lean R.|
|WED-06||Fred Upton||71||Lean R.|
|AK-AL||Don Young||79||Probably R.|
|WA-03||Jaime Herrera Beutler||82||Probably R.|
|PA-01||Brian Fitzpatrick||84||Probably R.|
|KY-06||Andy Barr||85||Probably R.|
|NY-01||Lee Zeldin||86||Probably R.|
|TX-25||Roger Williams||89||Probably R.|
|NC-09||Dan Bishop||90||Probably R.|
|WED-07||Tim Walberg||90||Probably R.|
|FL-16||Vern Buchanan||90||Probably R.|
|TX-03||Van Tayor||90||Probably R.|
|OH-10||Mike Turner||91||Probably R.|
|TX-10||Michael McCaul||92||Probably R.|
|TX-06||Ron Wright||92||Probably R.|
|FL-18||Brian Mast||93||Probably R.|
|VA-01||Rob Wittman||93||Probably R.|
|CA-42||Ken Calvert||93||Probably R.|
|TX-31||John Carter||94||Probably R.|
|OH-12||Troy Balderson||94||Probably R.|
|MN-08||Pete Stauber||95||Probably R.|
GOP Rep. Mike Garcia, who won a special election earlier this year to fill a position in California’s 25th Congressional District, is running as Republican most vulnerable. But along with Garcia, four others are involved in throwing competitions: the representatives Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey, Scott Perry from Pennsylvania, David Schweikert from Arizona and Don Bacon from Nebraska. Van Drew won as a Democrat in 2018 though switched parties after Vote against the charges against TrumpI probably think he’d have an easier time being a Republican in a district that backed Trump by about 5 points in 2016, but the race is very close and he was taken by surprise by the Democrat Amy Kennedy – Yes, part of The Kennedy family. Bacon, meanwhile, is defending a seat that could also be of great importance in the president’s race, as Nebraska gives each of its congressional districts a single vote and its 2nd district votes for Biden rather than Trump.
Bottom line: Democrats have benefited from an overall democratic national environment, in addition to a number of strong Democratic incumbents, a significant number of competitive open seats held by Republicans, and some vulnerable GOP officials. There is no blurring in our forecast: Democrats are in a very strong position to maintain control of the house. We’ll see what happens when the votes are counted, but a democratic hold would be one of the less surprising results of this election.