DDHQ 2018 House Updates – October 17 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 385 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 on Monday, October 16, 2017.


At Home


PA-11: Two more candidates announced Monday that they’d be running to succeed Rep. Lou Barletta (R) as he retires from the House to run for the Senate. The two announcements come from Democratic hopeful and former state Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff and Republican hopeful and Army veteran Andrew Lewis. The announcements bring the total number of candidates running to replace Barletta to six, a hearty haul, though not the biggest we’re seeing around the nation. It seems likely that Wolff will shake up the Democratic primary as his only opponent does not have much political or campaigning experience — something of valuable currency in Pennsylvania politics. The widening Republican field makes it hard to benchmark just how good Lewis’ chances could be, though being a veteran is certainly valuable right now (Democrats have been reportedly trying to recruit former U.S servicemen and servicewomen for challenging 2018 runs). That could be an effective strategy in this district with a 10% veteran population (slightly more than the 7% nationwide number). Trump won 62% of the vote here in 2016. Decision Desk currently rates this Harrisburg and east-central PA open seat as Likely Republican.

Bonus: For what it’s worth in handicapping Rep. Barletta’s chances at kicking U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. out of his seat: Barletta has been hugging Trump fairly tightly, which could be a worthwhile strategy in a state the President won in an upset last November. 


FL-27: Miami Commissioner Ken Russel has become the eighth Democrat to announce his candidacy in this probable pickup seat, left open by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Russell is joining a Democratic race with a lot of heavyweight political players including a formal federal judge, state representatives, and the current Miami Beach Commissioner. Though he lacks the political resume of some of his primary opponents, the proximity of his current office to the district he’s running in could provide some much-needed name recognition and leverage over politicians who could give him a big endorsement boost. The Miami Herald reports that “Congress could get its first professional yo-yo player if Ken Russell makes it to Washington”, so if  his stump speeches aren’t working out, at least he can wow a crowd. Crowd-charming is one of the most valuable abilities a Congressional candidate could have in a crowded field.

At any rate, whoever is victorious in the Democratic primary will be the favorite entering the midterm general election in November of 2018. FL-27 is strongly susceptible to a Democratic pickup: it’s a majority Hispanic district (one of three in Florida) with 43% Cubans and 3% Puerto Ricans that also encompasses some wealthy real estate of suburban Miami. Hillary Clinton won the district by twenty points in the 2016 presidential election. Decision Desk HQ currently rates FL-27 as Likely Democratic.


In the Beltway


  • At a dinner on Monday, House Republican leadership tooted their own horn in passing Obamacare repeal legislation, while non-leadership members in the caucus called on conservatives to rebel against establishment incumbents. The healthcare non-repeal/repeal/squirrel! and party infighting could impact GOP prospects in 2018.
  • There are also some splashy headlines being generated that some Trump allies are worrying that the Democrats could flip back the House in 2018 and impeach the president. Of course, that’s a long way off, but the fact that some in Washington are thinking about it prompts discussion on just how possible a House majority + impeachment are. Impeachment could become a rallying cry for some Republican and Democratic candidates next year (and for opposite reasons).


Data Roundup

President Trump job approval polling

  • Trump’s job approval in my average is still holding around 38-39%. This has changed little over the past month.


2018 House Midterms

According to the latest House forecast data

  • Democrats are up 6% in generic ballot polls, and 8.6% in our estimates of the election day two-party vote.
  • They have about a 47% shot at winning a House majority
  • Democrats have a 15% chance of winning more than 250 seats.


Want More to Read?

  • Yesterday was an FEC deadline for 2018 candidates and there’s a lot of data to dig in to.

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