By Jim Ellis
Oct. 8, 2018 — The Democrats need to convert a net 24 seats to secure a one-seat majority in the US House on Election Day, Nov. 6. Many reports quote the number 23 as what is necessary to win control, but the new Pennsylvania map will yield one seat coming back to the Republicans — the new open 14th District — thus pushing the total up to 24.
As stated Friday, our forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors, including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote to for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court Justice, which could change the turnout model, etc.
According to our new analysis, the Democrats are on the cusp of converting the requisite number of Republican seats to take a bare majority and seeing their caucus become significantly larger. At this point, the Democratic gain range appears to reach 23 on the low side and 35 at the apex.
Looking at the country by state and region, it appears the Democrats will do well in the Midwest, in particular. The Great Lakes region that delivered President Trump his surprise victory appears to be snapping back to the Democrats in the midterm House races. Michigan looks particularly good for them at both the statewide and district levels.
A net gain of two US House seats coming from the state, likely the open 11th CD that Rep. Dave Trott (R-Birmingham) is vacating, and possibly defeating two-term Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) in the Lansing seat would account for the gains, but there are other possibilities. Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton/Jackson) and Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/Upper Peninsula) all have credible Democratic opponents.
The tri-state area of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey is critical to the Democratic majority hopes. The party needs to net at least five seats cumulatively from the three states but getting eight or more early on election night would signal that a new majority is forming.
The Dems have two solid targets in the Upstate, Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) and John Faso (R-Kinderhook), but neither are a lock, and Faso, in particular, has been running ahead throughout the cycle.
The new Pennsylvania map appears ready to yield a net of three seats to the Democrats, with two already certain. The new 5th District that the state Supreme Court crafted from ex-Rep. Pat Meehan’s (R) district is a sure thing for the Ds, and Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester), who decided to exit the race after candidate filing closed, hands what could well remain a Republican seat to the Democrats. The open 7th District in the Allentown-Bethlehem area and the pairing between incumbents Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) and Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) could well swing to the Democrats.
Four targets appear in New Jersey. The open 2nd District (Rep. Frank LoBiondo retiring) is a cinch to move into the Democratic column in the person of state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May). Retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-Morristown) district and incumbents Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) and Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) are all potential Democratic conversion districts.
The Democrats also have multiple targets in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Washington. Key single district opportunities exist in Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas, and Arizona.
In California, seven seats are on the board; the Dems need to win at least three of them and will likely do so.
The Democrats have the necessary three factors that a minority party needs in order to capture a majority. They have: 1) strong candidates, 2) record-setting resources to support their challenger and open seat contests, and 3) have made enough districts competitive to provide many avenues toward gaining the necessary number of seats to assume control.
With as many as 78 seats in play, meaning the campaigns rate as toss-up, lean Republican, or lean Democrat, the latter party is on offense in the overwhelming majority of those contests. Needing one-third of those to go their way, despite having to win in what are habitually Republican districts, appears a doable proposition with still one month remaining in the election cycle.
At this point, signs are pointing to at least a small Democratic House majority as the campaign cycle enters its final phase and a new Congress begins to take shape.