Inside Elections has also revised up its projections for the number of seats Democrats are expected to occupy in each chamber. In the Senate, it’s now four to six-seat net earnings, which puts the Democrats on the path to majority. They need a net win of four seats to flip the Senate, or three if they win the White House as the vice president breaks ties with the Senate.
The more notable of the two Senate rating changes is in Kansas, which is moving from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican. Senator Pat Roberts is retiring, leaving a vacancy in a Trump state with nearly 21 points. Democrats have not won a Senate seat here since 1932, so this should have been theoretically easy for Republicans to hold.
But GOP MP Roger Marshall, whose first victory over Kris Kobach exonerated the Republicans, doesn’t offer much relief in the last leg of the campaign. Instead, national GOP groups have to spend on him while Democrat Barbara Bollier – a former Republican – raised nearly $ 13 million in the third quarter. It started October at about $ 7.6 million compared to Marshall’s $ 1.7 million.
Colorado’s move from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic is more predictable. GOP Senator Cory Gardner is running for a second term in a state Trump that lost five points in 2016 and could lose by an even bigger margin in November. The battle for the Supreme Court vacancy only further nationalized the race, reminding voters that Gardner is still a Republican Senator, despite his testimony about the love of the environment and non-partisanship.
Inside Elections is now planning that Democrats get a network of 10 to 20 seats. That’s an exceptional position for Democrats as they defend their historic mid-term gains of 2018, many of them in districts that Trump carried four years ago. But the president is proving himself to be a burden on Republicans even in the districts he won, while helping Democrats go on the offensive in red districts that weren’t part of the battlefield at the start of the cycle. Republicans would need a net win of 17 seats for a majority, which seems very, very unlikely.
Suburban seats are moving towards Democrats
In a world where the races of the house have become even more nationalized, Trump’s unpopularity is bad news for Republicans in Congress – even for long-time incumbents in traditionally red counties.
For example, Arizona’s 6th District voted for Trump in 2016, but according to Inside Elections, he has one of the highest higher education rates of any Republican representative. That’s one reason it’s switching from Tilt Republican to Toss-up, even though Rep. David Schweikert has done himself a disservice on his ethical issues. Meanwhile, Biden and Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly are likely to bolster Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, an ambulance doctor who has overtaken the five-year-old incumbent.
Arkansas 2nd District, represented by GOP Rep. French Hill, and Missouri 2nd District, represented by GOP Rep. Ann Wagner, share similar suburban dynamics that make them competitive for Democrats in a way that they weren’t in the past. Inside Elections moves Hill’s District from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican and Wagner from Tilt Republican to Toss-up. Wagner’s defeat would be a loss for Republican women, of whom there are only 13 in the current GOP conference, two of which are not running for re-election.
The Long Island suburbs vote threatens New York MP Lee Zeldin, an ally of Trump’s who faces Democrat Nancy Goroff, former chairman of Stony Brook’s chemistry division. She has put herself into her background as a scientist since the start of the race, but the pandemic – and Trump’s disregard for scientific guidelines – has given her another opportunity to argue that it is time for Trump and Zeldin to leave. Inside Elections is moving the race from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.
Biden’s strength could also threaten Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman who takes on ex-gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. The race changes from Tilt Republican to Toss-up.
The top of the ticket could also improve democratic chances in Florida’s 18th District, where GOP MP Brian Mast is running for a third term. The race changes from the Solid Republican category to Likely Republican.
The Democrats’ chances also look better in some of the suburbs they defend, including six that they flipped in 2018. In the elections, Lucy McBath’s rematch against former GOP MP Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District is postponing from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic. Another pickup truck from 2018, Kansas 3rd District, is switching from Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic and dropping off the list of competitive seats. Likewise, Iowa’s 3rd District is changing from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic. New Jersey’s 3rd Ward is switching from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic, while Ward 32 of Texas is switching from Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic.
Florida’s 26th district was a ray of hope for Republicans this summer. With a strong recruit in Miami-Dade County’s Mayor, Carlos Gimenez and Trump, who do better with Cuban-American voters, it seemed like they had a chance to oust Democratic freshman MP Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. But it’s hard to see Gimenez transcending the national setting in this district that Clinton won and that Biden is likely to wear. It’s moving from toss-up to tilt democratic.
Other seats are moving towards Democrats
It’s not just the suburbs where the Democrats are supposed to do better. Some seats that are either very rural or just places where Trump did well in 2016 are also moving towards Democrats.
For example, District 2 of Maine is dropping completely off the list of competitive seats, switching from Lean Democratic to Solid Democratic. Trump comfortably carried the state’s sprawling northern district in 2016 – and he still managed to win it this year, but likely a lot less if Biden came in contact with white working-class voters. This is a problem for the President as he expected to get a vote here. Aside from Biden making this seat competitive, Democratic MP Jared Golden, who flipped the district for a house race in the country’s first election in 2018, has a strong profile in the district and a significant financial advantage over his GOP challenger.
Another district that Trump did well in in 2016 – South Carolina’s 1st District – should be a top pickup opportunity for Republicans after Democrat Joe Cunningham flipped Charleston in 2018. But the coastal district doesn’t look nearly as strong for Trump this year, while a competitive Senate race can also boost Democratic turnout. It’s moving from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic.
Republicans were hoping to target Pennsylvania MP Matt Cartwright in the 8th district that Trump was wearing. But Biden’s edge in the state won’t help the Republicans knock the four-year-old Democrat off the field, and it’s a solid Democratic race now.
Democrats are increasingly excited about the takeover of multiple Trump districts. Minnesota’s 1st District, a rural borough that Trump carried by a wide margin, is one of three boroughs Republicans flipped in 2018, with GOP MP Jim Hagedorn narrowly winning the then-open seat. But the newly minted Republican has faced ethical questions and struggled to raise funds on his rematch against Democrat Dan Feehan. It moves from Tilt Republican to Toss-up.
The 5th district of Virginia, where an underfunded Republican defeated the congressional GOP, looks better for Democrats with a well-funded candidate who is able to take advantage of the national environment. It’s moving from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican.
Pennsylvania’s 10th district, where the Democrats have long loved their recruit, state accountant Eugene DePasquale, is moving from Tilt Republican to Toss-up. He tries to get GOP rep Scott Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, off the field. In Illinois, GOP MP Rodney Davis appears to be in greater danger in a rematch against District 13 Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who is moving from Tilt Republican to Toss-up.
At the start of the cycle, it would have been hard to imagine that North Carolina’s 11th District could be competitive. But it got a little less red on judicial redistributions, and now that Meadows is in the White House, it’s an open space. It moves from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.
Seats move towards the GOP
There are far fewer pickup options for Republicans than there were at the start of the cycle. But two Democratic-held seats are moving their way. Both are seats Trump won, where he is expected to do well again in 2020, even if he doesn’t match his 2016 performance.
Minnesota’s 7th district is the seat of a Democrat, which Trump held by the greatest margin in 2016. Rep. Collin Peterson, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, is well known in the massive district and is widely regarded as the last Democrat who can hold the seat. But he has competed in tight competition against an underfunded GOP challenger for the past two cycles, and this time his opponent – the former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach – actually money and support from the national party. Inside Elections is moving the 7th district from Tilt Democratic to Toss-up.
Democrats are also defending in Ward 2 of New Mexico, which Rep. Xochitl Torres Small flipped in 2018 when it was an open seat. She is involved in a rematch against Republican Yvette Herrell. The race changes from Tilt Democratic to Toss-up.
Texas 23rd Ward is one of four Clinton counties still held by a Republican. Democrats were believed to have a particularly good chance of picking up the district this year, with GOP MP Will Hurd not running for re-election. The Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who was narrowly lost two years ago, had a lead over the Republican Tony Gonzales, who was stuck in a lengthy runoff election. However, an encouraging national environment has not had an impact on this border district, which encompasses almost half the state as much as other locations. It’s moving from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic.