Democrats’ tiny majorities, five seats in the House, and 50-50 in the Senate (with the VP as tie-breaker), are under severe challenge. Major political forecasting firms like the Cook Political Report or Nate Silver’s 538.com predict the Republicans will win the House, although Silver’s firm says the Democrats have a 55% chance of holding the Senate .
Today I’ll be taking a look at the House situation, especially in New York State, where there are 8 competitive House districts, five Democratic and three Republican. The aggregate polling average for the Generic Congressional Ballot, where dozens of firms ask voters across the nation whether they will vote Democratic or Republican, shows essentially a dead heat, with the Republicans ahead 45.1% to 44.6% .
In fact, there are really only about 40 competitive House districts in the country, not including a margin of just a few seats Republicans gained from redistricting alone.
There are plenty of Democratic incumbents in those competitive House districts, and if the Democrats can hold just enough of them, win just a few of the new seats added to States resulting from reapportionment, and win even just a handful of Republican seats, either by defeating incumbents or winning open seats, they can hold on.
MANY OF THE COMPETITIVE SEATS ARE IN THE EAST
Many of the vulnerable seats, both Democratic and Republican, are in the Eastern United States, even just the Eastern Time Zone, which stretches from the East Coast to Michigan.
In the Eastern Time Zone, there are five vulnerable Democratic seats in New York, three in Pennsylvania, two in Ohio, two in Michigan, two in Virginia, and one each in Maine, Rhode Island (where an incumbent retired), one in New Jersey (Malinowski), and one in Indiana. There are three vulnerable Republican seats in New York, one in Ohio, one in Michigan, one in Florida, and one open seat in North Carolina.
I count redistricting in the East separately – the Republicans wiped out four Democratic seats in Florida and one in Georgia, lost one with West Virginia losing one of its three Republican seats, while the Democrats gained one in New York and one in North Carolina, with a net gain for the Republicans of two seats in the Eastern U.S. excluding the competitive contests. This means the Democrats must hold nearly all their seats here and win several Republican seats.
NEW YORK STATE
After the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest Court, rejected the State Legislature and the Governor’s enacted district lines, they appointed a Special Master, who drew more competitive districts, although a Republican seat upstate was still extinguished related to New York’s loss of a seat in the reapportionment.
The Hudson Valley
There are now three competitive Democratic seats in the Hudson Valley and two on Long Island. The Eighteenth Congressional district, with Orange County, Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster counties, has Pat Ryan, the Democratic Ulster County Executive, running against Republican Colin Schmitt. Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, in an adjoining seat in the 19th District in an August 23rd special election to fill the vacancy created when Anthony Delgado became New York’s Lieutenant Governor. Ryan has now switched to the 18th, which is rated Lean Democratic by Cook. Biden won there in 2020 by 8 points. The 19th Congressional District, including Ulster County, Dutchess County, and west into the Catskills, is rated Lean Democratic (Biden by 4 ½ points) and pits Molinaro against Josh Riley, who won the Democratic primary in August. Sean Patrick Maloney is running in the 17th Congressional District, which is Northern Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. The Cook Political Report just switched its rating from Lean Democrat to Toss-Up following a poll showing Maloney losing by six points and a cascade of Republican money flowing into the district to help Republican Mike Lawler. Cook changed the rating despite Biden winning the district by ten points.
The Long Island Democratic Seats
In the 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, incumbent Democrat Tom Suozzi vacated the district to run in a losing race for Governor in the Democratic Primary. The district remains a Biden +8 Lean Democrat with Democrat Robert Zimmerman running against Republican George Devolder-Santos. Democrat Laura Gillen is running in the 4th District, which continues to be rated only Lean Democrat even though Biden won there by 14 points.
The Republican Seats
The three competitive New York Republican seats include two vacancies. In one, the 22nd, incumbent Republican John Katko retired. Democrat Francis Conole and Republican Brandon Williams are in a tough match despite Biden having won the district by 7 1/2 points. In the 1st Congressional District, vacated by Lee Zeldin to run for Governor, Democrat Bridget Fleming, a county legislator and former prosecutor, is well-funded and running a strong race against Republican Nick LaLota. Biden won the district 49.4-49.2%.The Cook Political Report rates the 1st District as Lean Republican. In the Staten Island/Brooklyn 11th Congressional District, former Congressman Max Rose is challenging incumbent Republican Nicole Malliotakis in a district won by Trump by more than seven points. Nonetheless, Rose is a vigorous, solidly-funded candidate who won this district in 2018, has a loyal base and a chance to win.
New York’s Mail Ballot Count Delays Are Mostly Resolved
New York’s law that prohibited opening the mail ballots in the State for tabulation only after its 9:00pm poll closing time was fortunately changed. Local election boards can begin counting mail ballots four days after they arrive and report results on election night. In the June primaries in New York City, about two-thirds of the mail ballots were included in the election night results.(See article above.) The deadline for posting mail ballots is Election Day, and receipt of those ballots is allowed for a week after Election Day. Unless the elections are extremely close, the State’s citizens have a good chance to know who won in New York by late on election night.
Regardless of when the citizens find out the results, however, the Democrats cannot really afford to lose seats here given how close the situation is in the rest of the country.
THE CENTRAL TIME ZONE- ILLINOIS TO TEXAS
In the central United States the Republicans appear to have gained a net of two seats in redistricting. These include two in Texas, one each in Wisconsin and Tennessee. The Democrats gained two seats in Illinois. The Democrats also lost a seat in South Texas when the incumbent resigned and a Republican, Myra Flores, won a special election there in May in the Texas 34th district. A Democratic incumbent named Vicente Gonzalez shifted to the 34th after redistricting and is running against Flores. Biden won there by 15 points but the district is still considered competitive. If Gonzalez can win it cancels out the May Republican victory to bring the Democratic margin back to six seats. That is because Democrats won a surprise victory in the special election in Alaska, where Democrat Mary Peltola defeated Sarah Palin and others. Peltola looks strong to hold that seat.
Other than the four seats lost in redistricting in the Eastern and Central U.S., the Democrats can’t afford to lose more than a net of two or three other seats in this half of the country before the elections reach the Western United States.
THE MIDTERMS IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES
Reapportionment added three Congressional seats in the Western United States, in Montana, Colorado, and Oregon. The Democrats have a chance to win, or lose, in all three. The Colorado seat is considered a Toss-Up. The new, second, open Montana seat was believed to be an easy win for Republicans but that has changed. The Cook Political Report changed the rating here from Likely Republican to Lean Republican. Democratic candidate Monica Tranel is running a well-funded vigorous campaign against the ethically challenged Ryan Zinke and has proved stronger than anticipated. Trump, however, did win this district by seven points.
The new Oregon seat was considered an easy Democratic win because Biden won that seat by fifteen points, but the Republican candidate is competitive there in a newly thorny political environment for the Democrats in that state. The Republicans are competitive in two existing Democratic seats there as well.
ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO
In Arizona, the Redistricting Commission redrew two Democratic seats to favor Republicans, and Ann Fitzpatrick retired. Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran is running for re-election in a district Trump won by 8 points. Both Democratic seats are rated Lean Republican, but Republican incumbent Dave Schweikert’s district is rated a Toss-Up. Democrats have a good candidate, Jevin Hoge, Biden won the district by one point, and Schweikert has been mired in ethics controversies.
The competitive New Mexico seat is held by Republican Yvette Herrell, who defeated the Democratic incumbent by six points in 2020. The district was redrawn by the Democrats to be a Biden +6 district, and Herrell is being challenged by Democrat Gabriel Vasquez. The district is rated a Toss-Up but, like so many of these districts, a Democratic victory is highly valued there because it forces the Republicans to win another Democratic or open seat someplace else to compensate.
THE FAR WEST
California, Oregon, and Washington are all vote-by-mail states. All active registered voters get mail ballots, and they can be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8th. In Alaska, voters don’t automatically get mail ballots. They must apply for them and the ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, but can be received up to ten days after Election Day. The deadlines, of course, relates to Alaska’s vast territory and remote areas. Alaska also has ranked choice voting, which won’t be tabulated until all the votes are in.
Victories in California and Oregon will be the key to the Democrats holding the House of Representatives. If the Republican net margin going into those states is eight seats, Democrats must win two seats in California, the new Oregon seat, and the two Democratic seats in Oregon where Republicans are competitive, to survive. The Democrats are competitive in a State of Washington Republican seat as well, and could win several additional seats in California. If the elections are close in these contests and winning or losing the House is dependent on these victories for the Democrats in the Far Western states, it could be a week or more before the nation knows the final result.
CLOSING OUT- IF Rs WIN, TRUMP CALLS THE SHOTS TO A FAWNING MCCARTHY
Up until the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs permitting the states to outlaw abortion, it looked like the midterms in the House would be an easy win for the Republicans and they led by up to 2 ½ points in the Generic Congressional Ballot. Over the summer and into September, the Democrats clawed back into contention but have lost momentum in the last few weeks. It was inevitable that the Republicans would close on the crime issue; it’s what they do. The Democrats are now campaigning on the economy, Social Security and Medicare, and abortion.
A Republican victory in the House will result in Trump calling the shots to the pliant leader, Kevin McCarthy, along with extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene. We can foresee a national ban on abortion, the impeachment of Biden, and probably Attorney General Garland too. We will see rollbacks of climate regulation and a shutdown of the Federal government the next time the Federal debt ceiling is raised to force big spending cutbacks. Since the military budget, Veterans, military retirement, national security, and interest on the debt will be off limits to cuts, that really won’t leave much room to cut anything else except Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
If you have time, please help Democratic candidates.