Prospects Rise for Democratic Gains in House Races

Democratic prospects for taking House seats in 2018, already promising, took a leap forward after the May 4 House of Representatives vote for a new health care bill.

Even before the vote, projections of Democratic gains, and possibly even taking over the House, looked promising. After all, mid-term elections usually spell trouble for the incumbent President’s party. This trend has been true in 20 out of the last 25 mid-term elections since 1914.

President Donald Trump’s unpopularity beyond his durable base of support and intense Democratic political activism will likely lead to a continuation of the above mentioned trend.

A prime list of Democratic targets for 2018 are the 23 Republicans who hold seats in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The vote is the House was 217-213 in favor of the controversial health care bill with all but 20 Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.

Within 24 hours, the non-partisan Cook Political Report moved its ratings of 20 Republican seats toward the Democrats, mostly supporters of the bill but also two GOP Members who voted no.

After all, the House-passed bill had garnered only 17 percent of public support in a March Quinnpiac poll, and the Congressional Budget Office analysis of an earlier version of the bill suggested that the measure would cause 24 million Americans to lose health care over the next decade.

There is a clear precedent for opposition party gains in 2018. In 2010, the passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act with total opposition from Republicans proved a major liability and Democrats lost the House of Representatives.

And while the 23 GOP Members who sit in Clinton-carried districts split their votes with 14 in favor of American Health Care Act and nine against, the 2010 election proved that opposition to an unpopular piece of legislation is no guarantee of election security. Seventeen of the 30 Democrats who refused to support President Obama’s Affordable Care Act still lost their seats in 2010.

David Wasserman writing for the Cook Political Report argued, “Not only did dozens of Republicans in marginal districts just hitch their names to an unpopular piece of legislation, Democrats just received another valuable candidate recruitment tool.”

That is, it is likely to be easier for the Democratic Party to recruit viable challengers for a number of potentially vulnerable Republicans. Moreover, some incumbent GOP Members may decide to retire at the end of this term rather than face a volatile political environment.

To be clear, this movement is no guarantee of Democratic victories 18 months away but rather a positive omen of things to come. Moreover, capture of the Senate is a much longer shot with only nine of 34 seats up in 2018 held by Republicans.

Cook Political Report’s List of 20 GOP Seats Moving Toward Democrat

AZ-02: Rep. Martha McSally (R) – Southeast: Tucson, Cochise County

CA-25: Rep. Steve Knight (R) – Northern LA County: Santa Clarita, Palmdale

CA-39: Rep. Ed Royce (R) – Northern Orange County: Fullerton, Yorba Linda

CA-45: Rep. Mimi Walters (R) – Inland Orange County: Irvine, Mission Viejo

CA-48: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) – Coastal Orange County: Huntington Beach

CO-06: Rep. Mike Coffman (R) – Denver southeast suburbs: Aurora, Littleton

IL-06: Rep. Peter Roskam (R) – Chicago west suburbs: Wheaton, Palatine

IL-13: Rep. Rodney Davis (R) – South central: Champaign, Decatur, Springfield

IL-14: Rep. Randy Hultgren (R) – Chicago north and west exurbs: Batavia, McHenry

IA-03: Rep. David Young (R) – Southwest: Des Moines, Council Bluffs

KS-02: OPEN (Jenkins) (R) – East: Topeka, Lawrence

KS-03: Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) – East: Greater Kansas City

MI-08: Rep. Mike Bishop (R) – Central: Lansing, Detroit exurbs

MN-02: Rep. Jason Lewis (R) – Twin Cities south suburbs: Eagan, Burnsville

MN-03: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) – Twin Cities west suburbs: Bloomington, Plymouth

NJ-03: Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) – South central: Burlington, Toms River

NJ-07: Rep. Leonard Lance (R) – North central: Flemington, Bridgewater, Summit

OH-01: Rep. Steve Chabot (R) – Southwest corner: Cincinnati, Warren County

TX-07: Rep. John Culberson (R) – Houston northwest suburbs: Jersey Village

TX-32: Rep. Pete Sessions (R) – North Dallas and suburbs: Richardson