Sabato’s latest estimate shifted an astonishing 11 races toward the GOP. Five of those races shifted from “Safe Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.” It should be noted that in 2010 a dozen or more Democratic races that started in the “Safe” column ended up with a GOP victory. This is another clear indication of an increased chance for a “wave” election where 50 or more seats switch parties.
The Cook Political Report is behind a paywall, but the Hill has a summary of the eight changes made by that site.
The changes include moving three previously “likely” Democratic districts — Indiana’s 1st, New York’s 19th and North Carolina’s 1st — into “lean” Democratic territory. Meanwhile, three districts that previously leaned toward Democrats — Nevada’s 3rd and 4th, as well as Virginia’s 7th district — are now toss-ups, according to the election handicapper.
The Cook Political Report also shifted New Jersey’s 3rd District and New York’s 4th District into “likely” Democratic territory rather than “solid” Democratic territory.
Each of those districts — except for two — are currently held by Democrats seeking reelection this year. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) is retiring from her seat in New York’s 4th District and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) is not seeking reelection in North Carolina’s 1st District.
Both sides are raising gobs of money, so there won’t be an advantage in fundraising for either side. But Sabato is looking at other ominous signs for Democrats.
More important than money, at least to us, is the political environment, which continues to look promising for Republicans. President Joe Biden’s approval rating remains just a little over 40% in averages, with disapproval a bit over 50%. Polls of congressional voting sentiment, the House generic ballot, continue to be relatively close, with Republicans generally up just a few points in averages. But if Biden’s approval continues to be weak, we would expect the Republican advantage to grow in the coming months.
So our main question about the House continues to be not whether Republicans will flip the House — although we would not completely shut the door on Democrats’ retaining control if the political environment improves markedly — but rather how big the Republicans’ eventual majority will be.
Redistricting hasn’t been the total free-for-all for Democrats that Republicans thought it might be. Democratic governors like J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Kathy Hochul of New York have given Democrats a total of at least 5 seats and perhaps more during their redistricting process. Federal judges are going to give Democrats two or three more.
Republicans have their own gerrymanderers in Govs. Abbott of Texas and DeSantis of Florida. Once the challenges are over, we could expect the GOP to claw back 3-5 of those seats taken by Democrats and the courts.
But new seats won’t save the Democrats in 2022. Voters are angrier than they’ve been in a long time, and it appears they’re going to take out that rage on Joe Biden and the Democrats.