DCCC’s Red to Blue Targets

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2022 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their first targets in what they call their Red to Blue program or, in other words, the districts they hope to convert from Republican to Democrat. Curiously, two districts on the list are already blue.

Below is a look at the DCCC’s dozen released targets:

CA-22: Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.4% in District 21

• FiveThirtyEight: D+10
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 42.3% R / 55.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)

By the numbers, this is one of the Democrats’ best national targets, but Rep. Valadao has consistently won in Democratic seats. He lost in 2018, but won the seat back two years later. Assemblyman Salas is the Democrats’ top recruitment target. Despite the lopsided Democratic numerical advantage, the finish here will again likely be razor-thin.

CA-45: Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.1% in District 48

• FiveThirtyEight: D+5
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 45.8% R / 52.2% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jay Chen – Community College Trustee

Freshman Rep. Steel is another Republican to whom the California Citizens Redistricting Commission members were not kind. Moving into the more inland Orange County district from her coastal seat, Steel has been a well known figure in Orange County politics for many years, particularly with her service time on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before winning the congressional seat.

A D+5 seat is exactly the type the Republicans must win to achieve their goal of re-taking the majority. With national redistricting cutting against them, the GOP must win a sizable number of the 22 seats so far within the Even to D+5 category.

CO-7: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) – Open Seat
2020 Win Percentage: 59.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 43.8% R / 51.7% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood)

This district does not really belong on the list since it is already a blue seat. Democrats are favored to hold the seat and Sen. Petterson is clearly their candidate to do so.

IA-1: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% (6 votes districtwide) in District 2

• FiveThirtyEight: R+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 49.7% R / 46.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City)

Rep. Miller-Meeks won the closest race in the country in 2020, a literal six-vote affair against former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D). This year, the congresswoman will see a different opponent since Hart chose not to return for a re-match. State Rep. Bohannan has two Democratic opponents, but she should have little trouble in winning the party nomination on June 7.

This will be another close eastern Iowa campaign, and this district is actually one point more Democratic than the previous 2nd according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization. This is a top Democratic target, but Rep. Milller-Meeks will be favored assuming the political climate remains favorable for Republicans.

IA-2: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% in District 1

• FiveThirtyEight: R+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 51.1% R / 45.4% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha)

In the first redistricting map presented last year, Rep. Hinson would likely have been defeated. With the legislature rejecting that draw, a new one emerged. This gives the congresswoman a more favorable seat but one this is still highly competitive. Democrats have recruited a strong candidate in Sen. Mathis. She has no primary opposition at this time. In a favorable GOP political climate, this seat would become difficult for the Democrats to convert despite its statistical closeness.

IL-13: Created Seat – Open
2020 Win Percentage: N/A

• FiveThirtyEight: D+7
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 41.8% R / 53.3% D
Endorsed Candidate: Nikki Budzinski (D) – former OMB official

This new district stretches along a swath from Champaign in the eastern part of the state through Decatur and Springfield, and then onto the East St. Louis area. The extreme Illinois gerrymander was designed to defeat GOP Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), but he decided to jump into the 15th District and run against GOP freshman Republican Mary Miller (R-Oakland). This seat will go to the Democrats and will be one of the net three seats that the party likely gains within the delegation.

MI-3: Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 53.0%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+3
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 46.5% R / 50.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: Hillary Scholten – Attorney; 2020 congressional nominee

This is another district that a redistricting commission drew for the Democrats. Placing Rep. Meijer in a much more difficult district with the addition of the city of Muskegon, the playing field tilts toward the Democrats. A strong Republican year could allow Rep. Meijer to win, and that may happen this year, but the seat will not likely stand the test of time throughout the rest of the decade. Meijer defeated Scholten in 2020 by six percentage points in a district that was then rated R+9.

NM-2: Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamorgordo)
2020 Win Percentage: 53.7%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 44.1% R / 52.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: Gabe Vasquez – Las Cruces City Councilman

Freshman Rep. Herrell converted this seat from then-Rep. Xochitil Torres Small (D) in 2020, and returns to face a much more difficult gerrymandered district. This is another of the Even to D+5 seats that become a must-win for Republicans if they are to capture the House majority. Despite having Democratic opposition, Vasquez is the preferred candidate to return the seat to the Democratic leadership.

New Mexico is one of four states where the Democrats had the redistricting pen and could gain a seat, but in attempting to convert the 2nd CD to their column, they also made the two districts they now hold, CDs 1 and 3, more competitive.

NY-1: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) – Running for Governor – Open
2020 Win Percentage: 55.9%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 41.0% R / 57.0% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jackie Gordon – Ex-Town Official; 2020 2nd District Nominee

This is another gerrymandered seat, one that will go from reliably Republican to leaning Democratic. The DCCC has chosen former Babylon Town Selectman Jackie Gordon. This is a surprising choice because she was the party nominee in District 2 in the previous election, and two Democratic local officials with greater ties to the region are in the race.

There is no guarantee that Gordon will win the party nomination — the local county chairmen are much more influential than the Washington political committees — but the Democratic nominee will clearly have the inside track toward converting this open seat.

NY-11: Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island)
2020 Win Percentage: 53.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+7
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 37.7% R / 60.0% D
Endorsed Candidate: Former Congressman Max Rose

The Democratic legislature gerrymandered this Staten Island anchored seat, the only NYC district that routinely votes Republican. Redistricting may have put the 11th out of reach for freshman Rep. Malliotakis unless a “red wave” truly forms. Drawing this seat further into the more Democratic section of Brooklyn should give ex-Rep. Rose the votes he needs to return to the House.

OH-1: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.8%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+3
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 47.9% R / 49.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman

The second Ohio map sits before the state Supreme Court and could well be tossed again because of political gerrymandering. If the map stands, the Cincinnati anchored 1st District becomes a prime target. Veteran Rep. Steve Chabot has faced similar districts throughout the last decade, and he did lose the seat in 2008 only to return in 2010. Democrats have settled on Cincinnati Councilman Greg Landsman for a campaign where the political climate at the time of the election will have a great deal to do with determining a winner in this congressional seat.

OH-13: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren) – Running for Senate – Open
2020 Win Percentage: 52.5%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+2
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 46.9% R / 50.6% D
Endorsed Candidate: Emilia Sykes – State Representative, former Minority Leader

Despite the state Supreme Court potentially shelving the congressional map for the second time during this redistricting cycle, a lot of attention is being paid to the politically marginal open 13th CD, which is already a blue district. The seat is highly competitive and could have been the site of a pairing between Rep. Ryan and the departing Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) because Ohio lost a seat in national reapportionment.

As an open seat, this race will be a toss-up. The DCCC is backing former House Minority Leader Sykes, who will prove to be a strong contender. Even though four other Democrats are on the ballot, Sykes should easily win the party nomination. A crowded Republican field will determine the GOP winner. This marginal district will prove a political battleground for the rest of the decade should this Ohio congressional map withstand this latest legal review.

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