Now that all states have held their primaries and the general-election nominees have all been determined, I am publishing my first list of race ratings for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and governors’ races across the country. Here I will provide some basic explanations of my Election Race Ratings Chart.
First, I have selected only those races that have been deemed competitive, either by myself or another leading, reputable election analyst (such as Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, etc.). Therefore, not every race will appear here. Those offices that are not listed are considered safe for the party currently holding them.
My chart lists, from left to right, the state or district; the Democratic candidate; the Republican candidate; and my current rating of the race. If the state or district is currently held by a Democrat, it is colored blue; if the state or district is currently held by a Republican, it is colored red. Lighter shades of blue or red denote an “open seat” race in which no incumbent is seeking reelection. In the candidate columns, incumbents are listed in bold type. In the rating column, races in which I rate the Democrat a favorite will be colored light blue if it leans Democratic; medium blue if it is likely Democratic; and dark blue if it is safe Democratic. Similarly, I use light red, medium red and dark red, respectively, for leaning, likely or safely Republican.
As to the ratings themselves, I will differ from the more established analysts in one crucial respect: I do not list any races as toss-ups. In races that appear extremely close, I am exercising my best judgment to project them either “Lean D” or “Lean R.” I make these judgments based on the following factors:
1) Current polling numbers (where available). This is the key factor, but these are much more available in Senate and gubernatorial races. Many House races have little, if any, reputable public polling readily available.
2) Current polling trends; even in a case in which a candidate may still be trailing by a small margin, if his/her polling trends are clearly moving upward, I may move a race rating in his/her direction. (Key examples here include the governors’ races in Michigan and Wisconsin, which I currently rate “Lean D” due to the upward trending of the Democratic candidates in that race. If those trends reverse in the coming weeks, I will reassess.)
3) The district’s electoral history—for example, if a state or district has a history of flipping depending on whether it is a presidential year or a midterm; if the race is a rematch of a close race in a previous election; if the trends in a state or district are moving in favor of one party or the other; etc. (A key example is the 10th District of Illinois, which has a Democratic partisan voting index, but where Republican House candidates traditionally overperform and where the Republican candidate, Bob Dold, has previously been elected to the House.)
4) An unusually impressive (or unimpressive) candidate, or a relatively new or unknown candidate who may appear to have great potential (A key example is Republican nominee Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.)
In marginal races that would normally be listed as toss-ups in which I still have a strong degree of uncertainty, I add a black box next to the rating to denote that the race is on my “Watch List.” A race may be watch-listed for any of the factors listed above.
This site will publish an updated list every Saturday between now and the election. At this moment, my ratings indicate the Republican Party will pick up a net of 7 seats in the U.S. House, for a 241-194 majority, and 6 seats in the U.S. Senate, for a 51-49 majority. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, appears headed for a net pickup of 3 governors’ mansions, which, if accurate, would leave the Republicans with a 26-24 advantage.
In future ratings, this site will also make estimates as to the partisan control of state legislatures after the November elections.
For the current race ratings, please click here.