Congressional Race Ratings (October 2, 2016)

This week’s Congressional Race Ratings have five changes, four of which favor the Republican Party. It is becoming clear that no Democratic wave is developing and that the party’s gains are likely to be modest at best.

In the House, I am making three changes, all of which move “Lean Democratic” seats to “Lean Republican.” In two Iowa districts (1 and 3), recent polling, and the surprising strength of Donald Trump in the Hawkeye State, have moved those races in the direction of incumbent GOP Congressmen Rod Blum and David Young, respectively. And in New York 19, centered on suburban Westchester County, Republican John Faso recently took a very slim lead over Democrat Zephyr Teachout in an open-seat race. In this district, currently held by a Republican, Trump is +5, so he is clearly not creating a drag on Faso.

The latest round of projections leaves expected net gains for the Democrats at +9, which would leave the GOP with a comfortable 238-197 advantage. A nine-seat gain would not even erase the Democrats’ net losses from 2014, which totaled 13 seats.

In the Senate, I am making two changes. Most recent polling in New Hampshire now shows incumbent GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte moving narrowly ahead of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, despite Trump’s poor numbers in the Granite State. This race now moves from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican.”

In the one change favoring the Democrats this week, I am taking a bit of a gamble and moving the North Carolina Senate race from “Leans Republican” to “Leans Democratic.” Recent polling gives Democrat Deborah Ross a slight lead over incumbent GOP Senator Richard Burr. North Carolina Democrats are extremely motivated this year after some high-profile controversies by the state’s Republican governor and legislature, especially the “bathroom bill” that has caused numerous bodies (including the NBA and the collegiate Athletic Coast Conference) to pull their events from the state. This one is a gamble, but it does seem that Democrats are highly motivated in the Tar Heel State this year.

These two changes leave my current Senate projection at Democrats +4, gaining seats in Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and losing a seat in Nevada. This would mean an even 50-50 split, with Democrats poised to gain procedural control of the chamber on the tiebreaking vote of the vice president. As I continue to expect that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency, this tiebreaker vote would fall to her running mate Tim Kaine.

For my full, updated listings in competitive House and Senate races, please click here.

Statement on Today’s Observer Headline

My new Observer column which appears today has a headline that I did not write and never would have written. I have asked for the headline to be changed or for the column to be pulled in its entirety. This request has been denied.

To be clear, my editor is completely within his rights to deny my request, just as he was to write the headline or to make any other edits he saw fit to the article. I do not dispute his prerogatives. But it is my name on the article, and the headline is so at odds with anything I would ever say that I thought an explanation was required.

I apologize to my many friends who I know will be offended by the headline, and I want you to know that I had no part in it.

I will not be posting a link to this column on any of my social media vehicles or on my website.

Congressional Race Ratings Mostly Move Toward GOP (Sept. 25, 2016)

I am making changes to five race ratings this week, two in the House and three in the Senate. Four of these changes benefit the Republican Party.

In the House, the race in Maine 2 moves from Lean D, favoring Emily Cain, to Likely R, favoring incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Polling by the Portland Press-Herald not only shows Poliquin with a healthy lead in this rural district, but also shows Donald Trump leading big there. It doesn’t look like this is shaping up as a good year for Democrats in northern Maine.

Also in the House, the race in New Hampshire 1 moves from Lean D to Likely D, as former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has a big polling lead on embattled GOP Rep. Frank Guinta in their fourth race against each other.

The change in Maine 2 now adjusts Democrats’ expected House gains to +12.

On the Senate side, the Nevada Senate race moves from Lean D, favoring Catherine Cortez-Masto, to lean R, favoring Rep. Joe Heck. Heck has opened up a bit of a lead, and with Trump doing well in Nevada, it doesn’t look like the top of the ticket is going to be the kind of liability originally expected here.

Also, the race in Arizona moves from Lean R to Likely R as Sen. John McCain has opened up a sizable lead on Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. The same is true in Florida, as Sen. Marco Rubio now has a clear lead on Rep. Patrick Murphy.

The change in the Nevada Senate race now adjusts the current projection to 50-50 in the U.S. Senate, reflecting a Democratic net gain of four seats.

For the full chart, click here.

The Debates Won’t Make A Nickel’s Worth Of Difference

Don’t be expecting too much from tomorrow’s presidential debate, or any of the debates. We live in a time in which most people already have their minds made up and can’t be swayed by anything. If Donald Trump climbs up on the moderator table, drops his pants and defecates right there, his supporters will cheer.

The country is locked into two ideological camps. People are going to tune in tomorrow night largely to cheer for their side, much like a sports contest. They’ll boo if their candidate gets a tough question, in the same way sports fans boo every call against their own team. Most of the few who don’t tune in to cheer or boo will just be watching to see if a train wreck occurs.

Rah-rahs and gawkers. That’s the American electorate. We have met the enemy, and it is us.