There are still some bright spots on the map for Democrats, including Alaska, where the state’s only House seat is now ranked “Lean Democratic” after now-Rep. Marie Peltolasurprise victory in the special elections this summer.
But, in typical fashion for a midterm election, the political environment favors Republicans as the campaign winds down. The generic congressional ballot has moved in the direction of the GOP after moving towards the Democrats over the summer. And, overwhelmed by well-funded Republican outside groups, Democrats are conceding nearly a handful of potentially winnable districts, including a Phoenix-area seat that Biden narrowly won two years ago.
Here are five things to know about the latest changes to POLITICO’s election predictions:
Republican incursions into blue America
The two House districts that fall into the “Toss Up” category, California’s 13th district and Oregon’s 6th district, are in places where Biden is carried by wide margins.
In California’s Central Valley, Democrat Adam Gray and Republican John Duarte are locked in a tight race – even though Biden won the newly drawn seat by 11 percentage points.
It’s the same story in Oregon, where the state’s new House district, awarded because of its population growth, is now a “Toss Up.” That race, between Democratic state lawmaker Andrea Salinas and Republican businessman Mike Erickson, is razor-sharp, despite holding a 14-point margin over Biden in 2020.
The tight competition in Oregon is part of a promising trend for Republicans in the western state, where their criticism of Democratic leadership over inflation, crime and homelessness is bearing fruit. With a credible independent candidate on the ballot, GOP candidate Christine Drazan could become the first Republican to win the governorship there in 40 years.
And Republicans could flip three of the state’s six House seats: In addition to the new ‘Toss Up’ rating in the 6th District, the 5th District (Biden +9) is also a ‘Toss Up’ and the 4th open district (Biden +13) is ranked just “Lean Democratic”.
Why Democrats are favored to hold Alaska
Peltola’s victory in the August special election might have looked like a fluke. But smart money is about history repeating itself.
His rematch against Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich goes from ‘Toss Up’ to ‘Lean Democratic’ as the same dynamic present in that upset summer returns. Palin and Begich haven’t been kind — while Peltola has built a formidable war chest ($2.3 million in cash as of Sept. 30) and has the brilliance of a winner, at least for now.
It would be surprising to see either of the GOP nominees win another roster, if Peltola doesn’t achieve a majority on Election Day.
Democrat fortunes decline in Florida
Florida may still be a presidential swing state — but it doesn’t look like it this year.
Four House races are headed for Republicans, driven by two main factors: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ strength leading the ticket and the GOP’s continued improvement among Latino voters.
Two open-seat races, one near Orlando and the other on the fast-growing Gulf Coast, once considered potentially competitive, have disappeared from the battlefield. Republicans’ largest super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, had set aside airtime to win the state’s newest House seat, the 15th District, but canceled it this week because GOP candidate Laurel Lee has a commanding lead.
DeSantis’ redistricting push — putting the screws on the GOP-controlled legislature to pass a brutal gerrymander — looks likely to pay off.
Orphan seats of the Democrats
Democratic representative. Ron Kind may not have prevailed in a rematch with GOP candidate Derrick Van Orden in western Wisconsin. But Democrats are barely contesting the seat now that Kind is retiring.
Van Orden is leading Democrat Brad Pfaff for the seat, which went to former President Donald Trump by 5 percentage points in 2020. The race is changing from “skinny Republican” to “likely Republican.”
Democrats are also making little effort to unseat Rep. David Schweikert (R-Arizona), despite Schweikert’s Phoenix Metro seat narrowly going for Biden two years ago. Democrat Jevin Hodge is largely fending for himself in the air war, where prices have skyrocketed due to competitive statewide racing.
Schweikert is now the favorite: the race goes from “Toss Up” to “Lean Republican”.
The GOP is wasting its blue state governorships
For the past eight years, Republicans have held up Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as proof that the GOP has broad appeal beyond the conservative base.
But both men were effectively driven into irrelevance by Trump, and the party is all but certain to cede those positions in November.
The two gubernatorial races are moving from “probably Democratic” to “solid Democratic” as Trump-endorsed GOP candidates fail to mount credible campaigns. A University of Suffolk/Boston Globe Poll Tuesday gave Democratic State Attorney General Maura Healey a 23-point lead over Republican Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts, while a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll showed Democrat Wes Moore with 32 points in the lead. ahead of Republican Dan Cox last month.
The GOP has other opportunities to win in blue states this year, however. Oregon is a “Toss Up” and races in Maine, Minnesota and New Mexico are in the “Lean Democratic” category.