DDHQ 2018 House Updates – October 16, 2017

Welcome to our daily 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 386 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 8% and we rate 195 seats as Safe, Likely or Lean Democratic, 13 as Tossup, and 227 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.

Here’s what happened in elections to the U.S. House over the weekend, October 13 – 15, 2017.



At Home


ME-02: A new poll from Global Strategy Group has Bruce Poliquin (R) leading Democrat Lucas St. Clair by just 44-41%. That margin is notably slim as St. Clair, an environmental activist and longtime Maine progressive, should be having a harder time winning over rural and business Republicans in the district. Poliquin is no good for him either, as he beat his Democratic opponent in 2016, Emily Ann Cain, by nearly 10 points. More challenging for the incumbent Republican Congressman —  the only one east of New York — is that St. Clair is not the only Democrat running for the seat. State Rep. Jared Golden, the assistant majority leader in the Maine House, could pose a challenge to Poliquin. The same GSG poll found that St. Clair has strong name recognition and beats Golden 40% to 8% in the Democratic primary. Decision Desk HQ rates ME-02 as Lean Republican.


PA-18 (special): A torrent of news in this special election seat shows no signs of slowing. Over the weekend, Democrat Conor Lamb announced his candidacy, joining five other Democrats in a sprint to capture their party’s nod. Though it will be Lamb’s first run for office, he is the nephew of Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb and a relatively well-known U.S. attorney in the area. His political experience and ties to the Pennsylvania establishment may be enough to place him ahead of other candidates. If this year’s special election is anything like those in Pennsylvania’s past, anyone placed out in front should be checking their rear view mirror. Current Rep. Tim Murphy has run unopposed in the last two cycles, so whoever wins the Republican nomination will likely beat whoever the Democrats pick to run in the special election this winter.


UT-03 (special): There’s still apparently a fight in the special election to fill retired Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s House seat, and Donald Trump has been a central figure. Republican candidate John Curtis has drawn fire from some of the five other general election candidates for sticking too close to the President. Donald Trump was so unpopular in Utah during the 2016 campaign that Independent candidate Evan McMullin won nearly a quarter of the vote, but Trump still prevailed in the state with 45% and won the district easily. Roughly a month ago Curtis was forced to apologize for running a campaign ad that called for building Trump’s wall between Mexico and the United States. But all of this makes for more drama on the local news than translates into a nail-biter: public polling has found the contest to be a real snoozer, with Curtis hovering with a lead around 30% over his closest opponent, Democrat Kathie Allen. That poll was taken early on in a race, but a 50-20 lead is pretty much a safe one.

MI-11: There’s more news out of Michigan’s eleventh: it’s former representative may be eyeing to take it back. Kerry Bentivolio launched an exploratory committee for the seat being vacated by Rep. Dave Trott. If he does decide to run, Bentivolio will be jumping into an increasingly large field that includes some tough competition, though his past experience in the district would likely place him near the top of the crowd. Notably, Bentivolio says he is a Libertarian now, and it is unclear which party’s primary he will enter. Given the tough competition on both sides, he may have a better shot at winning the seat by running as an Independent. We’ll keep our eyes on developments here and write a full update if anything happens. Decision Desk HQ currently rates MI-11 as a Tossup.



In the Beltway


There’s a lot going on in Washington right now that could have consequences for Republicans in some safer seats. Though a lot of congressional action will fade from voters’ minds come November 2018, legislation on aid to Puerto Rico and tax reform will likely serve as a signal through the noise, even if just a little. We might consider the bill to amend the nation’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program in that list, but only if it gains prominence beyond its current ideological fight. We don’t see developments in the role social media played in potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election as mattering that much to voters; their opinions on this are likely already set in stone. All of these of course take a backseat to general feelings of the economy, direction of the country, and the President’s job approval.


Data Roundup


President Trump job approval polling

  • Trump’s job approval in my average is still holding around 39%.


2018 House Midterms

According to the latest House forecast data

  • Democrats are up 6% in generic ballot polls, and 8% in our estimate of the election day two-party vote.
  • They have about a 43% shot at winning a House majority
  • Democrats have a 15% chance of winning more than 250 seats.
  • We recently made a change in the math that boosted Democrat’s chance of winning a majority from 32% to roughly 43%. Read more here.



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