DDHQ 2018 House Updates – October 31, 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 371 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 7.5% 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 30, 2017.

At Home


WI-01: Placed deep within Republican territory, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home district hasn’t elected a Democrat since the 1994 Republican wave. It has voted for Republican Presidents — with the notable exception of Barack Obama in 2008 — for almost equally as long. Change could be on the horizon for the very unpopular Speaker Ryan, if the latest fundraising numbers mean anything. Democratic candidate and ironworker Randy Bryce reportedly raised a whopping 1.2 million dollars in campaign contributions for the third quarter, the largest haul in the nation. That’s 700,000 more than Speaker Ryan pulled in for the third quarter. Of course, Ryan has a nine million dollar edge in his cash-on-hand (the biggest war chest of any incumbent Republican or challenger by far).

This would all be very surprising if Randy Bryce was a new face in Wisconsin politics, but he has twice before run unsuccessfully for the Wisconsin state legislature, making him familiar with some of the movers and shakers of Democratic politics in the state. Bryce also comes off as a “man of the people” type, often leading the Wisconsin Ironworkers union and local veterans activists in fights against Republicans. It’s probable these elements have come together to paint Bryce as the ultimate anti-Paul Ryan — something he tried to play up in a campaign ad that went viral in June of 2017. But things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows at the Bryce campaign office: he has proven (so far) to be a naive campaigner, likely because of his lack of experience as an elected official. The kerfuffle over a Jared Kushner-Ivanka Trump-Justin Trudeau tweet is a recent example. Decision Desk HQ currently rates Wisconsin’s first congressional district as Likely Republican.

AR-04: There’s a teacher running for Congress in this southern Arkansas congressional district — a long shot bid, to be sure. Hayden Shamel is the second candidate to announce a campaign against Rep. Bruce Westerman (R), who won the district after Tom Cotton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014. Most House handicappers don’t see a clear opening for Shamel — the Cook Political Report (alongside Decision Desk HQ) rates it as Safe Republican, for example — but AR-04 did recently elect a Democrat to the House. Former Representative Mike Ross (D) served as the district’s congressperson from 2001 to 2013, a testament to the possibility that the district could turn blue in a wave election. In the most recent election with a Democratic candidate (2016 was uncontested) Westerman won just 53%. That’s not a razor-thin margin, but certainly not a blowout. Despite the purple-ish red history of the congressional politics in this district, it voted 64-31 for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Unless we see a strong showing from Shamel, or hints that Westerman may not have as strong a hold on the district as he needs, our rating will likely remain Safe Republican.

MT-AL: Former state legislator and Bozeman native Kathleen Williams announced her candidacy for this district’s Democratic ticket last Friday. Williams is the fifth candidate to join the Democratic primary here, making her the latest in a group of lawyers and past state legislators who want to unseat Incumbent GOP Representative Greg Gianforte. Although it’s unclear what cards Williams will bring to the table — she just sat down, after all — she is facing several opponents with piles of chips at their fingertips. Democrats John Heenan and Grant Kier raised 225 and 193 thousand dollars each last quarter, placing them near the middle of the national pack fundraising hauls. Notably, both outraised (and have more cash on hand than) Rep. Gianforte. However, that fundraising lead will likely narrow, as Gianforte’s status as the wealthiest member of Congress could allow him to self-fund the campaign next year even if things tighten up. You may remember MT-AL from the special election in early 2017 in which Gianforte triumphed over singer-songwriter and cowboy-aesthetic Democrat Rob Quist. Gianforte won by a slim 6 point margin, however, which was a ten point shift to the left since 2016. The perceived competitiveness of MT-AL may explain why so many well-funded Democrats have flocked to the campaign trail. Decision Desk HQ currently rates MT-AL as Likely Republican.

TN-03: Danielle Mitchell has added her name to a list of Democrats waging long-shot bids to unseat incumbent Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R) in next year’s House midterms. Mitchell is a primary care doctor and promises to combine that experience with a focus on healthcare if the district elects her to the House. Although many similar Democrats running around the country may pick up votes for this tactic, it is unclear if that strategy could put Mitchell within reach of Fleischmann: TN-03 has been a Republican-held seat since the 1990s and in 2016 it voted for the incumbent by 30 points over Democratic challenger Melodi Shekary. Decision Desk HQ currently rates TN-03 as Safe Republican.


Data Roundup


President Trump job approval polling

  • Trump’s job approval in my average is showing clear signs of a sustained decrease since the beginning of October. His current approval is 37%.

2018 House Midterms

According to the latest House forecast data

  • Democrats are up 7.5% in my average of generic ballot polls, and 8.4% 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.
  • This is a slight increase over last week’s numbers.


Reading List

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