At the same time, President Donald Trump has seen an uptick in his approval rating, giving Republicans hope they’ll be able to defend some seats in parts of the country where the President remains popular. The challenge for the GOP is much of the competitive House landscape crosses suburban terrain where the President’s standing is on shaky ground, creating a drag on incumbents in tough contests.
With those Democratic advantages in mind, CNN is moving nine contests within the competitive range of races in the party’s direction. Two races, meanwhile, are shifting towards Republicans.
In CNN’s updated race ratings, 14 seats held or vacated by Republicans are leaning toward Democrats (or better) for the party. If Democrats are able to sweep those races they would find themselves nine seats short of the 23 the party needs to gain the House majority.
Among the 30 races CNN now rates as Toss-Ups, only one is currently held by Democrats — Minnesota’s 1st District. Democrats would only need to win a third of those most competitive races that belong to Republicans to claim the majority. Republicans are now favored to pick up two Democratic-held seats, which Democrats would need to make up elsewhere.
To the races:
AZ-02: Former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick appears to be on track to return to Congress. Polling shows Kirkpatrick running well ahead of Republican nominee Lea Marquez Peterson. The National Republican Congressional Committee cut off funding from Peterson two weeks ago. Race moves from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
IL-13: Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a fundraiser and former staffer for Sen. Dick Durbin, more than doubled GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in third quarter fundraising and leads in cash on hand by $175,000. Outside groups on both sides are pouring millions into this mostly rural district that stretches from the exurbs of St. Louis to Champaign-Urbana in the east. Trump won the district by five points, but Barack Obama carried it with 55% in 2008. Race moves from Likely Republican to Lean Republican
FL-18: National Republicans are spending more than $600,000 on TV in the closing weeks of the campaign to help first-term Rep. Brian Mast fend off a challenge from Democrat Lauren Baer in this Treasure Coast district. Baer, an attorney and former Obama administration foreign policy adviser, out-raised Mast in the third quarter, but still lags in cash on hand. Race moves from Likely Republican to Lean Republican
OH-12: This rematch of the August special election that Republican Troy Balderson won by less than a point against Democrat Danny O’Connor is again drawing outside attention. The pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is planning to spend some $700,000 on TV in the next two weeks to help Balderson close the financial gap with O’Connor, who has more than double the cash on hand. Race moves from Lean Republican to Toss-Up
HOUSE CLEANING: In addition to the races covered above, we are moving five other contests from Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic. Those are: CA-07, FL-07, MN-07, NH-02 and NJ-05. In a different environment these contests would all be more competitive. This year, all five have incumbent Democrats seeking reelection as overwhelming favorites against weakly-funded challengers.