Shrinking map boosts Democrats in battle for the Senate
The Senate battleground map has shrunk dramatically in recent weeks — a net plus for Democrats but not enough to change their status as heavy underdogs to win the chamber in November.
Democratic incumbents look increasingly safe in four Rust Belt states President Trump carried in 2016 — Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans are locked in a bitter primary until August. Both parties agree a core universe of states are truly in play: Republicans are targeting Democratic incumbents in Missouri, Indiana, Florida and North Dakota, while Democrats are contesting GOP-held seats in Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee. There is disagreement on how competitive West Virginia and Montana are.
Democrats headed into the election cycle facing a nightmarish map, with 10 incumbents trying to hang on in states that Trump won. While the party is still mostly on defense, the narrower field improves an otherwise grim outlook. Winning the Senate remains a long shot, but is possible if everything breaks Democrats’ way: They need to net two seats to take back the majority, which means protecting essentially all of their incumbents.
“If you look at it … from 30,000 feet up, you’d say, ‘Oh they don’t have a chance.’ When we started there were 10 states we looked at to hold,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a recent interview. Now, he said, “there are only four that are really close.”
Opportunities to snag GOP-held seats are so scarce that Democrats could easily see multiple incumbents lose if the Trump backlash turns out to be weak. But for now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agrees the Senate is in play and has not been bullish on knocking off senators like Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who have both opened up double-digit leads, according to polls released this week. So far, there are no suggestions Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) faces any kind of trouble.
19 posts • Page 1 of 1
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama
Midterm Mania: Democrats are counting on rookie candidates to flip the House. How’s that working out for them?
Fact No. 1: There is no state more central to the Democratic Party’s effort to win back the House than California. Of FiveThirtyEight.com’s top 25 “tipping-point districts” of 2018 — that is, the districts most likely to decide which party controls the House next year — a whopping six are in the Golden State. (California has 53 seats, or about 1 of 8 in the House.) The next closest state (New Jersey) has three on the tipping-point list.
Fact No. 2: All six of the Democrats running in California’s tipping-point districts are political rookies — first-time candidates with no prior campaign experience.
Given the stakes, you might assume the party would be relying on proven, professional politicians. But the opposite appears to be true this cycle — both in California and across the country, where thousands of novice Democrats decided after the 2016 presidential election to “resist” the new Political-Rookie-in-Chief Donald Trump by running for office themselves. A record number of them are women. Many are people of color. Many are millennials. And more candidates than ever identify as scientists, teachers and members of the LGBTQ community.
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama
Wall Street Journal
Pennsylvania Vote Could Swing Congress
Democrats could capture the House if the state flips enough seats, as the 2018 battlefield moves to the suburbs ...
Nine of Pennsylvania’s 18 House seats could change parties this year, a concentration of competitive races like nowhere else in the country due to the combination of court-ordered redistricting and a broader realignment of suburban voters away from the Republican Party.
Of the 63 GOP-held House seats that the Cook Political Report rates as lean Republican, a tossup or likely or lean Democratic, 31 come from six states. Democrats could run the table in battlefield districts in just four states—Pennsylvania, California, Florida and New Jersey—and capture the net 23 seats they need to seize the House majority without taking a single district anywhere else.
In 2006, Democrats won a House majority with success in rural seats in places like Indiana and North Carolina. Republicans took control in 2010 by wiping out those gains and winning districts held by rural and moderate Democrats. Four Pennsylvania seats changed parties in both 2006 and 2010, making it one of the most politically volatile states in each of the last two wave elections.
This year the battlefield is in the nation’s suburbs, districts that have sent Republicans to Congress for generations but are filled with educated women—a demographic that polling shows has fled the GOP more than any other in the Trump era.
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama
Numbers reveal wild shifts in 2018 primaries
A look back at the 2018 primaries shows wild swings ahead of the midterms. ...
Start with the most basic measure, the number of House seats that are thought to be competitive. Back in May of 2017, when the Cook Political Report did its first ratings, it looked as if the Democrats and Republicans were starting on relatively even ground, but the numbers look very different today.
Back in May, there were 12 seats held by the Republicans that looked competitive and there were 11 held by Democrats — those were seats that were ranked as “lean” toward their party or were considered even more in danger.
As of mid-September, there are 66 GOP-held seats that look competitive and only four Democratic seats in that category. ...
The size of the shift here is truly remarkable and the changed landscape goes beyond the House.
Consider the upcoming Senate elections. Going into the 2018 cycle, Democrats were concerned not only because they had so many seats to defend — 26 compared to the GOP’s nine — but because they had to defend seats in many “Trump states” that Donald Trump won in 2016. In fact, the Democrats had to defend seats in the “blue” states that the president flipped to win the White House: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
But, as of mid-September, the poll numbers in those places look surprisingly solid for Democrats.
In Michigan Democratic incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow leads by 18 percentage points against her Republican challenger in the latest Real Clear Politics polling average. In Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown leads by 15 points. In Pennsylvania, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey leads by 14 points. And in Wisconsin, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin leads by 8. These races simply don’t look very close.
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama
Dems rebuild blue wall in Midwest
The Midwestern states that handed President Trump the White House two years ago now appear poised to deliver a sharply negative verdict against his party, thanks in no small part to voters’ dissatisfaction with the way Trump has handled his job.
Trump won Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016, two of the “blue wall” states that had voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992. He cruised to victory in Iowa and Ohio, swing states Barack Obama won twice. And he came within 45,000 votes of winning Minnesota, a state that last voted Republican when Richard Nixon was on the ballot.
His wins added to a rightward drift that has happened in the Midwest in recent years. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature in all five of those states, and the party owns most of the U.S. House seats in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio.
“The Midwest used to be what was referred to as the blue wall, with working-class and middle-class communities” voting Democratic, said Jim Ananich, the Democratic minority leader in the Michigan state Senate. “Obviously, that fell apart in 2016.”
Now, five weeks before Election Day, public polls show Democrats surging in races up and down the ballot in those Midwestern states, and even in less competitive states like conservative Kansas and liberal Illinois.
Cook Political Report
House Rating Changes: Eight More GOP Seats Move Towards Democrats
Five weeks out, several personally popular Republicans who appeared to be defying the "blue wave" in Clinton-won districts are beginning to see their leads erode. GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), John Katko (NY-24) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) led most surveys over the summer but are now prime targets as their well-funded Democratic challengers become better-known and the Kavanaugh debate further polarizes voters into red and blue corners.
It's becoming harder and harder to see Republicans' path to holding the majority. In the past few days, multiple Democrats challengers have announced staggering fundraising totals of more than $3 million during the third quarter of the year, exceeding what many predecessors have raised for an entire cycle. One high-ranking Republican worries his party could be "buried under an avalanche" of Democratic money that GOP outside groups can't match.
After today's ratings changes, there are 15 GOP-held seats in Lean or Likely Democratic (including seven incumbents) and Democrats would only need to win 11 of the 31 races in the Toss Up column to flip the majority. There's still time for political conditions to change, but today the likeliest outcome appears to be a Democratic gain of between 25 and 40 seats (they need 23 for House control). View our full ratings here.
FL-26: Carlos Curbelo (R) - Lean R to Toss Up ←
KS-03: Kevin Yoder (R) - Toss Up to Lean D ←
MI-03: Justin Amash (R) - Solid R to Likely R ←
MI-11: OPEN (Trott)(R) - Toss Up to Lean D ←
NY-21: Elise Stefanik (R) - Solid R to Likely R ←
NY-24: John Katko (R) - Likely R to Lean R ←
PA-17: Keith Rothfus (R) - Lean D to Likely D ←
UT-04: Mia Love (R) - Lean R to Toss Up ←
Sabato's Crystal Ball
Democrats inching closer to magic number in House, poised to net several governorships; Senate battle murky as Kavanaugh effect uncertain
KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE
— There are lots of questions, and not many answers, about whether the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation saga might impact November.
— We have 11 House ratings changes, all in favor of Democrats.
— Five gubernatorial ratings changes go in different directions but are generally better for Democrats.
— Only one change in the Senate as the battle for that chamber remains in something of a stasis.
POLITICO race ratings: The GOP House is crumbling
The Republican House majority continues to show signs of collapsing, with Democrats steadily gaining ground toward erasing the 23-seat margin and ending eight years of GOP control.
A total of 68 seats currently held by Republicans are firmly in play — rated as “Lean Republican” or worse for the GOP — presenting a stark contrast to the Democratic side, where only a half-dozen Democratic seats are in similar jeopardy. ...
With a month to go until Election Day, there are now 209 seats either firmly or leaning in the Democratic column — only 9 shy of the 218 the party needs to wrest away control of the chamber — according to the latest update of POLITICO’s race ratings.
The ratings, which reflect extensive reporting on the state of the 23-seat GOP majority, evaluations of both parties’ strategies, historical trends and polling data, reveal Democratic candidates have grabbed the lead in a number of House seats — including some with long-time GOP incumbents. Republican outside groups have already started cutting off funding to some races where prospects had dimmed.
New York Times OpEd - Thomas B. Edsall
Is the Rust Belt Still Trump Country? ...
Democrats lead in the major statewide races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin — the states that provided the Electoral College votes to put Donald Trump in the White House — along with Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois, a total of 13 governorship and Senate contests.
Barring unforeseen events, Democrats in the region will make gains at every level on Election Day, from statewide contests to House elections to state legislative seats. Still, their gains in state legislative races may not prove to be enough to flip those bodies to Democratic control.
It is at this level of legislative races — low visibility elections that carry exceptionally high stakes — that Democrats face intimidating Republican majorities. For Democrats to see across-the-board gains on the scale that Republicans achieved in 2010 would require not just a wave, but a tidal wave.
It is difficult to overestimate the political importance of the Midwest. The region was not only crucial to Trump’s victory, it has been crucial to continuing conservative control of both branches of Congress. ...
According to both Democratic and Republican operatives, Republican difficulties in the region stem in part from the trend among many Obama 2012-to-Trump-2016 voters to switch back to the Democrats.
The New Yorker
Andrew Gillum and the Surprising Strength of Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates in 2018 ...
With Election Day two weeks away, Democrats are expected to take control of the House. But the Party’s chances at taking the Senate look bad. There are simply too many tough races in too many tough states. At the same time, though, the Party’s gubernatorial nominees are looking good in several states—including Wisconsin, Iowa, and Georgia—where the incumbent is a Republican and where Trump won in 2016. On Monday, I talked with The New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells, who has covered the Florida race, about Gillum’s campaign and the other Democrats making strong bids for governorships this year.
“In the primary, Gillum was able to win an upset by basically running to the left of the field in ways that Florida Democrats had just not done in a generation,” Wallace-Wells said. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, embraced policies like Medicare for all and a fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage, in a state where Democrats had traditionally run as centrists. “What DeSantis has been trying to do in the general-election campaign—where Democrats are much more fired up, where Gillum’s crowds are much, much larger—is to pin Gillum to those positions,” Wallace-Wells said. “To attack him as an ideologue, as a socialist, as a clone of Bernie Sanders.” DeSantis’s profile—he is a young, talented politician who has already served six years in Congress; he is a former military prosecutor and a graduate of Harvard Law School—seemingly had him well positioned for this gubernatorial run. But Wallace-Wells argued that the way Republicans, and congressional Republicans in particular, have lined up behind Trump in the past two years has constrained DeSantis. “One of the things we saw last night is that, while he was prepared to make an ideological case against the left, he was not prepared to explain how he differentiates himself from the President,” Wallace-Wells said. “He was not prepared to describe how he’s been a leader.”
There’s another dynamic that Wallace-Wells and I talked about, one that has influenced the type of gubernatorial campaigns with which Democrats have found success this year. In the 2016 election, Trump’s victory in much of the upper Midwest was a surprise—but only in the context of Presidential politics. Six years earlier, in 2010, the Tea Party had swept Republicans into power in state capitols across the region, and kept them there. This year, though, there are signs that the grip of the Tea Party may be loosening. These gubernatorial races may turn less on Trump and his Presidency than on whether an entire political era is ending. “Democratic candidates like Gretchen Whitmer, in Michigan, Tony Evers, in Wisconsin, and even Fred Hubbell, in Iowa, are running very directly against the underfunding of basic services by Republican legislatures and governors,” Wallace-Wells said. In addition to running in defense of the Affordable Care Act, or against the Republicans’ tax cuts for the wealthy, he added, “Democratic candidates are running on campaigns of literally repairing broken highways.”
Vox - Dylan Scott
Democrats suddenly look strong again in the Midwest
The Midwest’s central role in the 2018 midterms, explained.
Donald Trump shocked election watchers on November 8, 2016, by winning states across the Midwest — states that were supposed to be part of Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall.” This year, Democrats have an enormous opportunity to start regaining ground in those same states.
Political pundits have wondered if Trump’s wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio represented a realignment of American politics for good. Republicans in some of those states dreamed of turning them permanently red with big wins in the 2018 midterms.
But in the weeks before Election Day 2018, Democrats are poised for huge wins across the Midwest, a resurgence that seemed unimaginable just two years ago.
Incumbent senators in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania seem assured of reelection. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a coveted target for Republicans, is leading by 10 points in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker could finally lose a reelection campaign. And in Ohio and Iowa, states Trump won handily, Democratic candidates for governor have a narrow advantage in the polls. ...
Still, no one factor explains this apparent Democratic strength. The minority party typically performs well in midterm elections. Democrats have particularly strong incumbents in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Republican brand is tarnished in Michigan and Ohio over some state-specific scandals. But those variables only explain so much. Run-of-the-mill Democrats have big leads in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Rather, these states have the right ingredients for a blue wave in 2018. Suburban, mostly white women seem to be drifting toward Democrats. Working-class whites, historically Democratic voters who broke for Trump, show signs of returning to their economically left-leaning roots. Strong black turnout would deepen the Democratic advantage.
These figures are all based on opinion polls, in which the pollsters came to the individuals to get their opinions. The mechanics are very different from a real election, when the individuals have to bestir themselves to leave their house, drive to the voting station, stand in line, and actually cast a ballot.
In other words, don't rely on the predictions, get out and vote!
In other words, don't rely on the predictions, get out and vote!
Daily Beast - Matt Lewis
The Great Lakes Were Trump Country, but Not Anymore
Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election hinged on votes from the industrial Midwest. Since Ronald Reagan, this region had largely voted blue during presidential elections until Trump cracked the code. There was a sense after Trump won that a “reordering” had taken place. Yet, many denizens of these same states—Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (to name the most important to Trump)—didn’t get the memo ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Facing stiff headwinds that might normally result in a massive blue wave, Republicans are holding up about as well as one could hope at the national level. In states like North Dakota, they are even poised to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator next week. Yet (ironically?) Republicans are facing surprising resistance in (of all places) the Rust Belt.
As Vox’s Dylan Scott observes, “Incumbent [Democratic] senators in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania seem assured of reelection. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a coveted target for Republicans, is leading by 10 points in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker could finally lose a reelection campaign.”
Likewise, Michigan appears poised to elect a Democratic governor, and Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democratic governor looks like he’s headed for reelection. (Meanwhile, Ohio’s gubernatorial race to replace Republican governor John Kasich is looking like a nail-biter.)
“Republican leaders are increasingly worried that their candidates for governor and Senate are in political trouble across Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and other states that the party prizes, and that the difficulties could spill into House races that the G.O.P. needs to win in November to keep control of the chamber,” writes Jonathan Martin in The New York Times.
GOP braces for potential wipeout in governors' races
The ranks of Republican governors are poised to thin after this year’s midterm elections, and some party strategists are bracing for major Democratic gains even in some of the most conservative states in the country.
Voters in 36 states will elect governors on Tuesday, including 26 states where Republicans currently hold the top job. Democrats are defending nine seats, and both sides are fighting over Alaska, where independent Gov. Bill Walker dropped his reelection bid late last month.
Virtually all of the most contested races are being fought on Republican turf. ...
At the same time, Republican governors are cruising to reelection in deep-blue states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont.
But history shows that even governors' races are susceptible to a national electorate’s mood: In a Republican president’s first midterm, the president’s party tends to lose an average of five governorships.
538's final forecast for 2018:
A 2 in 3 chance in controlling one chamber, and an additional 1 in 6 chance of controlling both? That'll do.Republican Senate/House Republican: 14.1%
Democratic Senate/Republican House: 0.2%
Republican Senate/Democratic House: 67.9%
Democratic Senate/Democratic House: 17.9%
Finally, our model foresees that Democratic governors will preside over an average of 24.2 states in 2019, or eight more than the party’s current 16. That would mean that roughly 197 million Americans, or 64.4 percent of the country’s population, would have a Democratic governor. Democratic gubernatorial candidates are favored to pick up governors’ offices in Michigan, New Mexico, Maine, Illinois and Florida (a closely watched race between Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis). They’re also slight favorites in competitive races like Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada. In the final version of our forecast, Kansas is the sole toss-up race. Republicans are leading in the competitive races of New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Alaska, South Dakota and, finally, Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp has a 2 in 3 chance of defeating Democratic former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (though perhaps not until December).
x6 x2 x4 x2
Obama-Trump voters turn back to Democrats
Senate Democrats did especially well where Donald Trump had gained the most ground
AMONG the many ways that Donald Trump has transformed American politics is by rearranging the country’s electoral map. In 2016 he broke through the “blue wall” that the Democrats fancied themselves to enjoy in the upper Midwest, winning three states with large populations of white voters without college degrees—Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—that had not supported a Republican for decades. He also set record lows for a Republican presidential candidate’s performance in areas with higher levels of schooling, such as Orange County, California. This proved to be a prudent trade in the presidential race: the higher-education regions that repudiated him were clustered in uncompetitive states like Texas and California, whereas the lower-education ones that embraced him were concentrated in hotly contested battleground states.
In the 2018 mid-terms, however, Mr Trump’s party appears to have been stuck with all of the electoral costs of this strategy and none of the gains. Whites with college degrees still flocked to the Democrats: Orange County, previously home to four House Republicans, is expected to send none to the next Congress. However, many of the regions that defected from the Democrats to support Mr Trump in 2016 returned to their liberal roots this year.
Recently released vote breakdowns of Senate races by county show a clear “boomerang” pattern. The more ground Hillary Clinton lost in a county in 2016 relative to Barack Obama’s performance in 2012, the more ground Democratic Senate candidates picked up in 2018 compared with her vote shares. In many cases, the reversal was nearly complete: on average, counties that “swung” from the Democrats to the Republicans by around ten percentage points from 2012-16 shifted nine points back towards the Democrats from 2016-18. Most of these counties were in the Midwest, which has emerged as America’s most politically fickle region.
Democrats cannot rest on their laurels for long. Even in a “wave” election in which voters flocked to the polls to reject the unpopular president, incumbent senators in Ohio and Michigan were only re-elected by mid-single-digit margins, while those in Indiana and Missouri were defeated handily. In a less favourable political environment for the party—which, barring an economic slowdown, the 2020 presidential campaign is likely to feature—it might be the Democrats’ turn to suffer whiplash from these “swingiest” of counties.