DDHQ 2018 House Updates – September 18, 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 414 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 7.4% and we rate 196 seats as Safe, Likely or Lean Democratic, 12 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


Here’s what happened in elections to the U.S. House over the weekend, September 15 – 17, 2017.


Democrats are seizing their day in a perceived anti-Trump environment

TX-20: Rep. Joaquin Castro says he may vacate his seat to run for Governor. Incumbent Republican Greg Abbott is the safe favorite, handily beating Democrat Wendy Davis in the 2014 election by over twenty points. If TX-20 is indeed left vacant after the governor race’s Democratic primary, it would likely remain in Democratic hands. Castro ran unopposed in his urban San Antonio district in 2016 and Hillary Clinton won the district with 64% of the two-party vote. Texas’ 20th is currently rated Safe Democratic.


VA-10: Democratic party leaders might eliminate next year’s Democratic primary in Virginia’s tenth, instead opting to pick a nominee at a party convention. Party leaders have drawn a lot of criticism for the idea, which came shortly after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided to broaden support for the wide Democratic bench in the district. If the primary does shift to a convention, it is unclear which of the eight current Democratic candidates would prevail.


NV-03: On Thursday, wealthy education activist and philanthropist Susie Lee announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for this open swing seat. You may remember Lee as the primary challenger to now-Rep.Ruben Kihuen from neighboring NV-04 — and that she lost badly there last year. Now, she’s setting her sights on a district closer to home. She’s playing things a bit smarter with this one, choosing an open race in a Lean Democratic district that is sure to attract a lot of attention and money. Nevada’s third congressional district is one of the twelve seats that elected a Democratic House Representative but voted for Donald Trump. Kihuen is the second Democrat to join the primary for this seat. Four Republicans have done the same.


WV-01: Attorney Ralph Baxter announced that he would seek the Democratic nod to face GOP incumbent David McKinley next year. Though Baxter has almost no chance of winning this seat in the general election (voters here picked Trump 73% to 27%), he is targeting McKinley for his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act last summer. It is unclear how well this strategy will work in such a red district. Though his chances are slim, Baxter may have an in with West Virginia voters who see him as a job maker and game-changer. Decision Desk HQ rates the district as Safe Republican.


MI-11: The first Republican has joined the race for Rep. Dave Trott’s (R) open congressional seat. Former House and Senate candidate Rocky Raczkowski has announced he’ll seek election to the Suburban Detroit seat. MI-11 is slated to the one of the hottest elections next cycle, and it has already drawn hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of donations to former Obama Treasury official Haley Stevens. The district voted for Trump by just 6% in the 2016 presidential election. Decision Desk HQ rates the seat as one of twelve Tossup seats — currently, all are held by Republicans..


IL-06: Another one. Thirty-one year old Ryan Huffman announced his intention to run against Rep. Peter Roskam (R). Huffman promises a campaign filled with youthful enthusiasm, noting that turnout in IL-06 increase threefold in the 2016 Democratic primary thanks to Bernie Sanders’ popularity with millennial voters. Huffman may be looking for a win exactly where he could get one: Illinois’ sixth district voted for Hillary Clinton by 6% last November. Huffman joins eight other Democrats vying for the seat. Decision Desk HQ rates the contest as Lean Republican.


TN-01: Phil Roe (R) is about to get a primary challenger, as Army Veteran Todd McKinley announces his bid for the district. McKinley is positioning himself as the Trump-ian candidate in the primary, running to “shake up Washington and drain the swamp of a Congress that is still in place”. TN-01 is one of the most Republican district in the country — Hillary Clinton won just 20% of the vote there in 2016, and the Democratic challenger to Roe, Alan Bohms, won only 17%. Decision Desk rates the seat as Safe Republican, but, that doesn’t mean high-profile Republican Primary couldn’t take place.


Plenty is happening inside the Beltway

  • The House approved a $1.2 trillion spending bill for the 2018 fiscal year, a first step in ensuring the government will keep running. However, there don’t seem to be many victories for Republicans in the legislation — a pattern becoming clear in an Republican controlled government that can’t seem to keep all of its members on one page. Fiscal conservatism is a key component of a claim to conservative values in American politics, and without being able to defend their rightward lean, Republicans may face Trumpian challengers — like TN-01’s Todd McKinley — next cycle. It does including funding for Trump’s wall, however: $1.6 billion in funding, to be precise.
  • The Senate is facing dueling health care proposals this week: the Sanders’ Medicare for All plan and the Graham-Cassidy bill. The plans lay on opposite ends of the health care debate, one providing a national government insurance plan for every American and one providing cash to states to deal with health care. The fight is unlikely to spill over to the House any time soon.


Data roundup

House Election

According to the latest House data

  • Democrats are up 7.4% in the national congressional generic ballot
  • They have about a 1/3rd shot at winning a House majority
  • 50 Republican and 4 Democratic seats are within the margin of error in our forecast.


Trump Approval


Election Polls

  • None over the weekend


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Correction: an earlier edition of this stated that Rep. Joaquin Castro was possibly leaving his seat for a Senatorial run. He is potentially running for Governor.