Welcome to our weekly DDHQ House Elections Updates. I’m your host, G. Elliott Morris. Questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to pass along via email or twitter. There are 347 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 7.4% and we rate 195 seats as Safe, Likely or Lean Democratic, 14 as Tossup, and 226 as Safe, Likely, or Lean Republican. Check our full U.S. House forecast here and read our full list of ratings here. Sign up here to get these updates via email.
First, a programming note: DDHQ updates are now running on a weekly schedule. Check back every Friday for updates! Secondly, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers — we hope you’re enjoying leftover Turkey with family today.
A recap of House election news from November 17 to 24, 2017.
PA-18: Democrats get top candidate in nomination for special election. The race to replace GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned in October following a sex scandal, is heating up. At their nominating convention last weekend, Democrats picked Conor Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor, to face off against Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in the special election on March 13. Conor Lamb was probably the strongest candidate that Democrats could have picked, though the seat will likely remain under Republican control following the contest. Some might tout Democrats’ advantage in voter registration as a reason they’re favored to pick up the seat, but the district voted for John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump by 11, 17, and 20 points. This should make you skeptical of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer’s ability to add another name to his list here. Decision Desk HQ currently rates this southwest PA seat as Safe Republican.
MI-06: Incumbent Republican to run for re-election. GOP Rep. Fred Upton burned down the rumor mill Friday when he announced that he was not going to enter Michigan’s race for U.S. Senate. Instead, he’ll stay in the race where six Democrats have amassed in bids to unseat the 15-term incumbent. That could turn out to be a fairly tough challenge even as Hillary Clinton won 45% of the vote in the district last year. Democratic candidate Paul Clements (who is apparently trying his hand at the district during an anti-Republican environment) won only 38% there last year, running 7% behind the former Secretary of State. That makes Upton’s decision to stay in the race all the more important; according to our 2018 forecast model, if the seat were open Democrats would be slightly favored to win the district. Instead, they have just a 15% chance of doing so. Of course, these numbers will change between now and election day 2018, but Rep. Upton’s incumbency advantage will make this seat a relatively tough pickup for Democrats.
CA-48: Representative draws criticism for ties to Russia. GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher made headlines this week for his close ties to Moscow — so close, in fact, that they apparently gave him a code name. This is not the first time that Rep. Rohrabacher has been criticized for his relationship with Russia, but it is the first time that he has faced legal challenges because of them. Some reports have even alleged that he was a possible link between Russia and the Trump campaign, something that prompted Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly to prevent him from meeting with the President. At home, all of this scandalous news has been reason enough for eleven candidates to jump in a primary challenge against Rohrbacher.
This coastal California seat (as well as surrounding Orange County) isn’t totally alien to Democrats. Though the district has elected a Republican House Representative since its creation in 1993, it voted once for Barack Obama in 2008 and for Hillary Clinton by almost four points in the 2016 presidential election.
CA-25: Another Democrat challenges GOP Representative. Rep Steve Knight faces yet another Democratic opponent in his northern LA County seat. Former Defense Department staffer Diedra Greenaway announced she was in this past week. Greenaway will face Bryan Caforio, who lost to Knight 53-47 in the 2016 House cycle. This seat is slightly bluer than nearby CA-49, flipping from 50-48 Romney to 50-44 Clinton.
TX-06: Republican Congressman apologizes for nude photo. Incumbent Rep. Joe Barton (R) apologized Wednesday when news broke that he had sent “graphic online content” and “had sexual relationships with other mature adult women.” Some politicos and election watchers have become skeptical of his re-election plans. Barton, 68, insists he has no intention of stepping down. If he did resign his post, a Republican candidate would still be favored to win this seat where Donald Trump won 56-44 last November.
President Trump job approval polling
- Trump’s job approval in my average is 39%.
2018 House Midterms
According to the latest House forecast data…
- Democrats are up 7.5% in my average of generic ballot polls, and 9% in our estimates of the election day two-party vote.
- They have about a 52% shot at winning a House majority.
- The 3 Types of Districts that Could Give Democrats the House: A blog post in which I lay out the various measurements for identifying the seats with which Democrats can win the House majority.
- The obvious targets for Democrats in 2018 (Republican districts that Hillary Clinton won) do not provide enough seats for them to take back the house. Where else can they look? I apply a common measurement called a “tipping point” index to the House midterm elections. I also develop an index called the Majority Power Indicator (MPI) that measures the extra boost in the probability that a given party takes back the House if they win a particular seat.
- Nate Cohn (NYT Upshot): If 2018 is Like 2017, the House Will Be a Tossup
- Cohn writes: “If you emphasized the special congressional election results, and believed that Democrats would only do about two points worse in races with incumbents (the difference in Virginia and New Jersey), the Democrats might be poised to pick up more than 40 seats. [….] Next year’s contests will occur in a very different context, even if the national political environment is fundamentally similar. The races will be federal elections, usually with incumbents. The midterm fight will probably receive considerable national and local press coverage in the weeks — if not months — ahead of Election Day. Mr. Trump will loom over it all, and at least one candidate in nearly every contest will have an incentive to nationalize the race.”
- Carl Hulse (NYT): Blast From the Past: The Current Political World Mirrors 2009
- Hulse argues that Republicans are repeating all of the mistakes that Democrats made in 2009–2010 — mistakes that cost them 63 House seats and many state legislatures and governorships. Hulse writes: “History is already repeating itself. And the striking comparisons are not lost on either Democrats or Republicans.”
- Greg Giroux (Bloomberg): Goodbye gang: Exodus of U.S. House Chairman is most since 2006
- Nathan L. Gonzales (Roll Call): The Battle for Orange County in the Fight for the House