DDHQ 2018 House Updates – October 19 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 383 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 Wednesday, October 18, 2017.


At Home

OH-12: News broke abruptly Wednesday evening that incumbent Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi will be stepping down from office early, triggering a special election in the district. What exactly is the effect of Tiberi’s exit? On the Republican side, it’s likely that the man currently leveling a primary challenge against the Rep., Brandon Grisez, will simply transition his campaign into the special election. Grisez has not announced anything yet via social media. If his own polling is correct, he has a good shot at the Republican nod. But, Grisez only had $200 in the bank as of his last FEC filing in July, so this could be a reach. It is still possible that the donors responsible for Rep. Tiberi’s $6M cash-on-hand start moving their way to Grisez’s camp. If that pans out, he would have a war chest big enough for some sustained fighting in this battleground state ( notably, OH-12 is not a battleground district — for more on that, skip the next paragraph).

On the Democratic side, it’s presumed that the 2016 candidate for the district, Ed Albertson, will become the left’s leading candidate in the special election. Albertson is well known in the district by now, though that name recognition has only gotten him so far in the past. When he was the Democrat’s general election candidate last cycle he only earned 30% of the two-party vote, putting him 15% behind Hillary Clinton’s share in the district. With Tiberi out of the running, we could expect the district to more closely resemble the 2016 presidential election — a 10-point Democratic loss instead of a 40-point one — and boost the chances that Democrats pick up a seat. Albertson also has the lead in fundraising. As of the September 30 FEC filing deadline, his campaign held roughly $9,000 in their lock-box. If it’s Albertson versus Grisez, and funding doesn’t drastically pick up, we know who’s got the lead in the purse.

But leads in name recognition and fundraising may not be enough for Democrat Albertson, even with an open contest. OH-12 is a reliably red district, one that elected Rep. Tiberi with more than 53% of the vote since the 2000 election. Donald Trump won the district by an 11% margin in 2016, an increase over Mitt Romney’s 10% margin in 2012. The district is even more Republican down-ballot, where it voted 62% for Rob Portman in the 2016 Senate race. You would have a hard time selling me on the prospects of a generic Democratic candidate in this district. As my colleague J Miles Coleman noted, the dynamics of an OH-12 special closely mirror the special in Georgia’s sixth. In other words, don’t be deceived by the competitive results from the previous Presidential election; this Columbus area seat is a healthy shade of red. Decision Desk HQ currently rates the district as Likely Republican.


UT-04: Democrats just caught a big fish in this central Utah congressional district. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams announced on Wednesday that he’s jumping into try to unseat Rep. Mia Love (R). McAdams is a big catch because of his name recognition among Utahns and connections to the state’s political establishment. As Mayor of Salt Lake County, McAdams represents nearly 85% of the voters in this congressional district. Extrapolating from his 10-point win margin in the 2012 mayoral election, McAdams could enjoy the support of roughly 46% of the voters (that is, if the nonvoters feel similarly to those active enough to vote in a Mayoral election). That’s about where we would peg him based on Hillary Clinton’s 46% two-party vote share in the district for 2016 presidential race and by Democrat Doug Owens’s 43% share last House cycle.

Importantly, Sal Lake County (McAdam’s domain) delivered a slim (compared to rural Utah County) 10k vote margin to Congresswoman Love. Therein lies the promise behind McAdams’ Democratic bid: he has a big advantage where it matters most. Love reported more than $300,000 cash on hand in the most recent FEC filing, enough to place an exciting fight in central Utah on the national radar. Decision Desk HQ currently rates UT-04 as Lean Republican.


MI-11: Democrats are noticing the solid pickup opportunity in this Tossup district. State Rep. Tim Greimel announced Monday that he’s joining the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 11th, currently held by retiring Rep. Dave Trott (R). Greimel has the type of political experience we would expect to see in the average House candidate: he  has held office in a state legislature and has ties to the movers and shakers (and fundraisers) of Michigan politics. However, Greimel’s path to the Democratic nod is not easy. He will have to get past fundraising machine and Obama administration official Haley Stevens — who has more than $415,000 cash on hand — to claim the top spot, a challenge to say the least. If he does make it to the general election, Greimel would an experienced pick to carry the Democratic banner in this district that Donald Trump won by just 5% in the 2016 presidential race.


OH-01: Democrat and Rabbi Robert Barr just launched an unusual bid for this southwestern Ohio congressional district, making him just the third Rabbi ever to run for Congress. Barr is hoping to unseat the incumbent Republican Steve Chabot, who first won election to his seat in 2010. Barr is likely to face a tough battle for the Democratic nomination, particularly against the previous Democratic candidate in this district, Samuel Ronan. If Ronan makes it to the general election in November, he may have a hard time convincing voters that 2018 is the time to elect him when 2016 evidently was not. There is an upside for Democrats here: Currently rated as Lean Republican, OH-01 was one of two congressional districts in Ohio where Trump did worse than Mitt Romney. Under a wave environment, Democrats would have a real opportunity here.

Data Roundup

President Trump job approval polling

  • Trump’s job approval in my average is still hovering around 38-39%. However, we’re seeing some early signs of a sustained decrease now, even if it is just a slight one

2018 House Midterms

According to the latest House forecast data

  • Democrats are up 6.3% in generic ballot polls, and 8.2% in our estimates of the election day two-party vote.
  • They have about a 46% shot at winning a House majority and a 15% chance of winning more than 250 seats.

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