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.
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.
There are no changes this week. I am projecting Democratic gains of +13 in the House and +5 in the Senate.
Click here for the full chart of ratings in competitive seats.
Tonight, I am publishing my initial forecast in what I consider to be the competitive U.S. House of Representatives and Senate races for 2016. Starting September 11, I will publish updated ratings every Sunday between now and the election.
There are few real surprises. At this time, I am forecasting a net Democratic gain of five seats in the Senate, which would flip the chamber to Democratic control, 51-49. I also forecast a Democratic gain of 13 seats in the House, which would recover the ground the party lost in 2014 and narrow the Republican advantage to 234-201.
Two ratings that stand out include the Senate race in Nevada and a House race in the 49th District of California. At this point in time, I am rating Catherine Cortez-Masto a slight favorite to hold outgoing Democratic leader Harry Reid‘s Senate seat in Nevada. Republican Joe Heck appears to have a slight polling lead, on average, but I continue to expect we will see high Latino turnout, and that the vaunted Reid political machine will pull out a close victory for the longtime Senator’s preferred successor.
I also am rating Democrat Douglas Applegate as a slight favorite to upset Congressman Darrell Issa in what has long been a Republican district in Southern California, centered in south Orange County, the epicenter of GOP politics in the state. Applegate has been polling very well in this race against the controversial Issa, and also performed well in the open primary pitting all candidates against each other in June. With higher turnout to be expected in November, the signs at this time point to an upset. Stay tuned.
For the full chart of competitive races and their ratings, click here.
I have been very critical of Bernie Sanders throughout this election season, but I’ll give it to him. He did everything I could have hoped for tonight. His full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton and his point-by-point recitation of how she will come through on issues dear to progressives were pitch perfect. Anybody on Team Sanders who doesn’t come around after this speech is simply unreachable.
Sanders was smart to acknowledge briefly his differences with Clinton; his supporters wouldn’t have bought it if he didn’t, and clearly, some didn’t buy it anyway, judging by some of the reactions from his supporters. But he spent far more time detailing the similarities. He did a very good job tonight. Now it will be up to him to follow through and keep making the case to the supporters he did so much to alienate from the party in the first place.