House analysts know that handicapping results in individual seats can be tricky for a lot of reasons, including the lack of independent polling in most districts. Yes, the party committees, campaigns, and other outside groups will survey the districts, but many of these polls will never see the light of day, or will only be leaked to make one side look better than the other
In early February, we sketched out a potential path to a Democratic House majority. We called it the “Drive for 25,” in reference to the Democrats’ branding of their unsuccessful attempt to win the House in 2012. Three and a half months later, we thought we’d revisit this possible Democratic path to the majority and see how much has (or hasn’t) changed.
Republican primary voters avoided a self-inflicted wound in West Virginia when disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship (R) finished third in the GOP Senate primary.
Coming off his second term as state attorney general, Mike DeWine (R) has been a clear frontrunner to be the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee for the past several years. DeWine, a former U.S. senator (1995-2007) who has held posts at all levels of government, started the primary season with three major challengers: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R), and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R, OH-16). The attorney general has faced criticism in the past from conservative activists for various perceived apostasies, such as backing a deal over judicial confirmations during the Bush administration and being insufficiently pro-gun for some during his tenure in the Senate. But DeWine’s time as attorney general has allowed him to repair some of these relationships, particularly with pro-gun forces.
Rep.-elect Debbie Lesko (R, AZ-8)’s victory in a special election Tuesday night fit into the pattern we’ve seen in other special elections this cycle . In a clearly Republican-leaning seat, Lesko won but ran significantly behind Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential performance . Trump won the district by 21 percentage points, whereas Lesko only won by about five points, based on unofficial results. Given the district’s strong Republican lineage, we thought any result in the single digits would be bad for Republicans. Lesko should be fine in the fall as an incumbent — and we’re moving her district to Safe Republican — but we now have had eight federal special elections this cycle in Trump-won, Republican-held seats (including the Alabama Senate election), and while Republicans have retained six of them, only one of those was an easy hold (UT-3).
One might have done better in predicting the 2016 presidential election, or at least in anticipating the very close eventual outcome, by basing a projection of the national popular vote on the findings of several political science models released prior to the election. These models, which were compiled by James Campbell of the University at Buffalo, SUNY and printed in both PS: Political Science and Politics and here at the Crystal Ball , generally pointed to a close election. These models mostly made their predictions several months in advance of the election and were based on the incumbent’s approval rating, the economy, and other “fundamental” factors.
The political world was rocked Wednesday morning by House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R, WI-1) decision to not seek reelection to his southeastern Wisconsin House seat. That said, Ryan’s departure really should not have come as that much of a surprise. Rumors had been swirling for months that Ryan was not long for the House, and we flagged this strong possibility for Crystal Ball readers more than a month ago when we first listed Ryan’s district on our list of competitive House seats , moving it from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
— The partisan structure of the races for governorships and Senate seats are now exact mirror opposites .
— Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) get ratings upgrades .
— Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s (D, CT-5) retirement gives Republicans an upset opportunity and is another example of how #MeToo is contributing to a high number of open House seats this cycle .
In the roughly two and a half months since we last assessed an already-long list of House open seats this cycle -- and even in the week since my colleague Geoffrey Skelley took a deep look at the pace of House retirements historically -- the number of open House seats has continued to increase.