October 18, 2016

National Journal: Hotline’s 2016 House Race Rankings

Two Republican incumbents crack the top 15 for the first time.

Don­ald Trump’s flail­ing cam­paign of­fers Demo­crats re­newed hope that they can cut deeply in­to the Re­pub­lic­an House ma­jor­ity. But even after the re­lease of Trump’s 2005 tape, polling does not yet show the bot­tom fall­ing out for con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans.

GOP lead­ers re­cog­nize the polit­ic­al en­vir­on­ment could shift fast. The pro­spect of voters stay­ing home on Elec­tion Day, primar­ily out of dis­gust for Trump, is cent­ral to the party’s fears.

Speak­er Paul Ry­an is sound­ing alarms with donors to shift sub­stan­tial re­sources down-bal­lot and has pledged no longer to de­fend Trump. Mean­while, Re­pub­lic­ans are already in­vok­ing blank-check mes­saging in tele­vi­sion ads, prom­ising to hold Hil­lary Clin­ton ac­count­able in of­fice.

House Demo­crats will un­doubtedly shave the GOP’s 30-seat ma­jor­ity in Novem­ber. It re­mains less clear where the ceil­ing is for their gains.

This is Hot­line’s list of the 15 dis­tricts most likely to flip. The first four seats on the list are ex­pec­ted to switch parties solely as a res­ult of re­dis­trict­ing, and they are un­changed from pre­vi­ous rank­ings. Since the last edi­tion in Septem­ber, one vul­ner­able Re­pub­lic­an, Rep. John Katko, has slid off the list as even Demo­crats con­cede he is a tough­er-than-ex­pec­ted tar­get.

A hand­ful of Re­pub­lic­ans re­ceive hon­or­able men­tions, in­clud­ing Reps. Bar­bara Com­stock of Vir­gin­ia and Mike Coff­man of Col­or­ado, who are run­ning in dis­tricts where Trump is deeply un­pop­u­lar. Oth­er open-seat races on the radar in­clude Michigan’s 1st Dis­trict, Pennsylvania’s 8th Dis­trict, and Nevada’s 3rd Dis­trict.

A few Demo­crats also face com­pet­it­ive chal­lenges, in­clud­ing Rep. Ami Be­ra of Cali­for­nia. But giv­en a far more fa­vor­able na­tion­al en­vir­on­ment for Demo­crats—and the sheer size of the GOP con­fer­ence—this list is dom­in­ated by Re­pub­lic­an-held seats.

Hot­line’s rank­ings are based on polling where avail­able, fun­drais­ing re­ports, and in­ter­views with party strategists.

14. New Jer­sey’s 5th Dis­trict: Rep. Scott Gar­rett (R) (previously un­ranked)

An­oth­er new ad­di­tion to the list comes amid in­creas­ing con­cern by Re­pub­lic­ans about Gar­rett’s reelec­tion pro­spects. Seem­ingly aban­doned by na­tion­al GOP groups and the fin­an­cial in­dustry for his neg­at­ive com­ments about gay Re­pub­lic­ans, Gar­rett has been out­raised by his op­pon­ent, former Bill Clin­ton speech­writer Josh Got­theimer. An Oc­to­ber poll from House Ma­jor­ity PAC showed Got­theimer with a 7-point lead, and the group has routinely slammed Gar­rett, a Free­dom Caucus mem­ber, as a bet­ter fit for “rur­al Alabama.”


Read the whole list at National Journal.