Final house

Final House Ratings: 75 Competitive Races, Ten Rating Changes

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November 5, 2018

Final House Ratings: 75 Competitive Races, Ten Rating Changes With Election Day finally upon us, the House battlefield is wider and more lopsided than at any time since 2010, when Republicans won their current majority. We rate 75 races as competitive, including 70 GOP-held seats and just five held by Democrats. A "Red Exodus" is contributing to the potential "Blue Wave:" of Republicans' 41 open seats, 15 are rated as Toss Ups or worse, and another five are only in Lean Republican.

Just by winning all of the races at least "leaning" their way, Democrats would net 16 of the 23 seats they need for a majority. In that scenario, Democrats would only need to win eight of the 30 races in Toss Up to win control (they currently hold one Toss Up, Minnesota's 1st CD). Conversely, Republicans would likely need to win 23 of the 30 Toss Up races to keep their majority. That's not impossible, but it's very difficult.

If the 30 races in Toss Up were to break evenly, Democrats would score a net gain of 30 seats. However, history shows that one party typically wins a lion's share of close races. In 2006 and 2010, the party riding the "wave" averaged 100 percent of all the seats at least leaning their way, 57 percent of the Toss Ups, 19 percent of the opposite party's "Lean" seats, and nine percent of the other side's "Likely" seats.

If that historical pattern were applied to our final ratings, Democrats would gain 40 seats. But high enthusiasm on both sides of the partisan divide may limit how deeply Democrats can drive into Trump country. Bottom line: anything from a Democratic gain of 20 to 45 seats remains well within the realm of possibility, but a gain of 30 to 40 seats - and House control - is the most likely outcome.

View our final 2018 House ratings here or download a presentation-ready PDF version here.

Rating Changes

AZ-01: O'Halleran - Likely D to Lean D →
CA-49: OPEN - Lean D to Likely D ←
FL-25: Diaz-Balart - Likely R to Lean R ←
GA-06: Handel - Lean R to Toss Up ←
MI-06: Upton - Likely R to Lean R ←
PA-10: Perry - Lean R to Toss Up ←
TX-06: OPEN - Solid R to Likely R ←
TX-10: McCaul - Solid R to Likely R ←
WA-08: OPEN - Toss Up to Lean D ←
WV-02: Mooney - Solid R to Likely R ←

Updated Bottom Lines:

AZ-01: Tom O'Halleran (D) - Northeast: Flagstaff, Navajo Nation, Casa Grande
Lean Democratic. O'Halleran won 51 percent to 43 percent in 2016, aided by physical abuse allegations engulfing GOP nominee Paul Babeu. But now he must defend a seat President Trump narrowly carried, and several GOP polls have shown a tight race against Air Force veteran Wendy Rogers. House Majority PAC is concerned enough that they're on air with an old clip of Rogers saying that social security should be phased out.

CA-49: OPEN (Issa) (R) - Northern San Diego County: Oceanside
Likely Democratic. Despite their initial high hopes for former Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey, most Republicans now acknowledge Democratic environmental attorney Mike Levin is on track to capture this open northern San Diego County seat. A late October New York Times/Siena College poll found Levin leading 53 percent to 39 percent, up from a ten point lead in September.

FL-25: Mario Diaz-Balart (R) - South: Hialeah, Doral, Naples suburbs
Lean Republican. Diaz-Balart is a member of Cuban GOP political royalty, and this is the most Republican of the three Cuban-dominated seats the Miami area. But it voted for President Trump by just 50 percent to 48 percent in 2016. Hours before the May filing deadline, Democrats convinced former circuit judge Mary Barzee Flores to switch from the crowded open 27th CD to run here. Now, she may have some late momentum.

This has turned into a nasty and expensive race. Barzee Flores has raised $1.9 million to Diaz-Balart's $2.1 million and has accused him of taking NRA contributions in the wake of the Parkland massacre and his wife, a travel agent, of promoting "dream vacations" to Venezuela. For his part, Diaz-Balart went up on air in July attacking Barzee Flores's husband for defending clients accused of illegally shipping arms to Iran.

Democrats are circulating a new private poll showing Diaz-Balart under 50 percent and leading by just five points, with gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum leading comfortably. They also contend the red tide towards the western portion of this district (Collier County) will depress GOP enthusiasm. There's no question the political environment has deteriorated for South Florida Republicans, but this would still be a massive upset.

GA-06: Karen Handel (R) - Atlanta suburbs: Roswell, Alpharetta
Toss Up. Handel overcame over $40 million in Democratic ads to beat Jon Ossoff by four points in last year's notorious special election, but Republicans are increasingly concerned that Democrat Stacey Abrams's strength in the highly professional northern Atlanta suburbs could jeopardize Handel's bid for a full term. A new New York Times/Siena College poll finds Democrat Lucy McBath leading the incumbent 46 percent to 44 percent.

McBath, who is African-American, became a gun control activist after her son, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, was murdered at a gas station six years ago. Michael Bloomberg's group, Everytown for Gun Safety, has flooded the district with late ads, and an Abrams-led surge in black turnout (the 6th CD is 13 percent African-American) could help McBath erode Handel's 9,282 vote margin from the special election. It's a Toss Up.

MI-06: Fred Upton (R)- Southwest: Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor
Lean Republican. Democrats are making Upton, the former Energy and Commerce chair, work for a 17th term. The DCCC is up on air bashing Upton's vote to repeal the ACA, intoning, "After 32 years in Washington, Fred Upton has changed." Republicans claim the race isn't that close, but the Congressional Leadership Fund is on air accusing Democratic former YMCA national medical director Matt Longjohn of embellishing his medical credentials.

This western Michigan seat voted 51 percent to 43 percent for President Trump in 2016, and Democrats are hopeful the governor's race and a big margin out of Kalamazoo (home to Western Michigan University) boost Longjohn. But Upton, who has spent $2.7 million to Longjohn's $1.1 million and also received air cover from Defending Main Street PAC and the American Hospital Association, remains the favorite.

PA-10: Scott Perry (R) - Central: Harrisburg, York
Toss Up. Perry, an Iraq veteran and three-term Freedom Caucus member, never had to run a real general election in his old, safe seat. But in February, court-ordered redistricting thrust him into a much more suburban district centered on Harrisburg that's 42 percent new to him. It's been over a decade since central Pennsylvania has hosted a competitive race, and now some Republicans are worried Perry could get caught napping.

Democratic George Scott has outraised Perry $1.2 million to $535,000 since June, and that edge goes a long way in a cheap market. Scott's background as a Gulf War veteran, pastor and political outsider who doesn't take corporate PAC money seems to be resonating against Perry, a longtime state legislator. A late October New York Times/Siena College poll found the incumbent leading just 45 percent to 43 percent.

Perry has attacked Scott for running a Democratic primary ad that depicted him throwing a rifle into a bonfire. But the DCCC and House Majority PAC are on air attacking Perry's record on pre-existing conditions, and now the Club for Growth has swooped in to try to bail out Perry in a seat President Trump carried by nine points. Republicans also fear their poor standing in statewide races could weigh Perry down.

TX-06: OPEN (Barton) (R) - Dallas suburbs: Arlington, Waxahachie
Likely Republican. Republican Ron Wright hasn't run much of a campaign since winning a sleepy May runoff for his old boss's seat with an endorsement from the Club for Growth. He doesn't appear to have updated his campaign website since the primary, and he's been outraised by EMILY's List-endorsed Democratic communications consultant Jana Lynne Sanchez $645,000 to $574,000 this cycle.

Instead, Wright - a Freedom Caucus aspirant whose slogan is "back the bowtie" - appears to be coasting on his name ID as a former Tarrant County tax assessor and Arlington councilman, as well as the district's GOP lean (it voted for President Trump 54 percent to 42 percent). Neither candidate has the resources to communicate effectively, so the race could be sensitive to any suburban movement in the Senate contest.

TX-10: Michael McCaul (R) - Central: Austin and Houston suburbs
Likely Republican. McCaul, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, faces a lackluster opponent in liberal Austin Assistant City Attorney Mike Siegel. And the incumbent is taking his race seriously, spending $1.7 million. But in this political environment, any district that President Trump carried by single digits (52 percent to 43 percent) and includes part of the city of Austin (a Beto O'Rourke hotbed) merits caution.

WA-08: OPEN (Reichert) (R) - Cascades: Auburn, Ellensburg, Chelan
Lean Democratic. Republican Dino Rossi carried this district three times running statewide and started out with superior money and name recognition, but those advantages have faded. Democratic physician Kim Schrier outraised Rossi $1.6 million to $320,000 in the first half of October and Rossi is getting pummeled in the Seattle market. Back in August, Democrats outpolled Republicans in the top-two primary, 50 percent to 47 percent.

An early November New York Times/Siena College poll shows Schrier opening a 48 percent to 45 percent lead after leading by one point in late September. Even worse for Rossi, more voters viewed him unfavorably (47 percent) than favorably (44 percent), while Schrier was right-side up by ten points in the latest poll. This seat voted for Hillary Clinton 47 percent to 44 percent in 2016 and looks more like a Democratic takeover than ever.

WV-02: Alex Mooney (R) - Central: Charleston, Eastern Panhandle
Likely Republican. in 2016, Mooney ran eight points behind President Trump's 66 percent in the 2nd CD because of lingering voter concerns about carpetbagging (he was the Maryland state GOP chair less than six years ago). Democrats still hold a narrow voter registration advantage here, and a new Emerson poll shows Mooney leading former Sen. Jay Rockefeller aide Talley Sergent by just 47 percent to 39 percent.

Mooney has taken the challenge seriously and has spent $873,000 on ads reminding voters that Sergent served as Hillary Clinton's 2016 West Virginia state director. That's probably enough to win, but Sergent has spent a respectable $470,000 on ads contrasting her roots in the state with Mooney's previous residence. If Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is to win reelection against a former New Jersey resident, he'll need to carry the 2nd CD.

 

Left Image: Lucy McBath with Obama in Georgia Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Right Image: Scott Perry with Mike Pence Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke