2016 US House of Representatives Elections Preview

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: The US Capitol is shown October 11, 2016 in Washington DC. House and Senate Republicans are in a close race with Democrats to keep control of both houses of Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Democrats look set to gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the GOP still controls the map, and with a relatively large majority, they can shed seats while still maintaining control of the people’s house. Here is a look at the most interesting House races on Tuesday, with predictions. For ease of reading, I’ll be highlighting competitive races in each region of the country, while skipping past a vast majority of House seats that lean heavily towards either party.

Northeast (Predicted Result D+3)

Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem: MD-06, PA-17, NY-03, NY-25
Lean Dem: NH-01*, NJ-05*, NY-19*
Likely GOP: PA-06, NY-01, NY-21, NY-24
Lean GOP: PA-16, PA-08. NY-22, ME-02

In the northeast Dems look set to retake NH-01, as former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is taking on the scandal plagued Frank Guinta. NJ-05 in northern New Jersey is where former Clinton WH official Josh Gottheimer has gotten a national cash infusion and has come from behind to take a lead over incumbent Scott Garrett (R). I also favor well-known progressive Zephyr Teachout to upset John Faso (R), Teachout was accused of carpetbagging and being too liberal, but I feel she’s adjusted well. Dems missed opportunities in NY and PA that will keep them from gaining more seats.

In Maine, Bruce Poliquin (R) is again facing a tough challenge from the Emily’s list backed Emily Cain (D). Cain may be a slight favorite, but I have Poliquin riding the white working class to an extremely narrow win. New York has a pair of House seats (21 and 22) where third party candidates, Matt Funiciello (Green) and Martin Babinec (Reform) look set to post surprisingly strong numbers.

Midwest (D+1)

Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem: IL-17
Lean Dem: IL-10*
Likely GOP: IN-02, MI-06, MI-07, MI-08, IL-12,
Lean GOP: IN-09, WI-08, MI-01

The GOP looks set to retain four Michigan House seats that should be in play, including the open MI-01 seat in the UP. A recent trend towards the GOP in Indiana should prevent two potential Dem gains in that state as well, while the DCCC swung and missed at the open WI-08 in the Green Bay area, Tom Nelson has not caught on in the way that was expected. In Illinois neither IL-17 or IL-12 look to be close enough to be in play, but Dems should gain IL-10 in the Chicago area as former Congressman Brad Schneider should return to Congress with a win over Robert Dold. The fact no other Wisconsin or Ohio seats are in play in the Midwest for Dems is an indictment of their poor recruitment operation at the House level this year, the main thing preventing Democrat gains.

Great Plains (no change)

Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem: MN-01, MN-07, IA-02
Lean Dem: MN-02*, NE-02
Likely GOP: KS-03
Lean GOP: MN-03, MN-08*, IA-01, IA-03

The Dems and GOP should swap seats in Minnesota if Stewart Mills can upset long time Congressman Rick Nolan in northern Minnesota, while at the same time, Angie Craig, a strong candidate out of the gate when she announced, looks set to gain a win for the Democratic side against right wing talk radio host Jason Lewis, who was a poor nominee for this wing district. Nolan and Mills have battled before, but it feels this time Mills is gaining an edge. Down in Iowa, the Dems should hold onto IA-02, but the decline of their prospects in the state have moved IA-01 and IA-03 from into play, to into the GOP column as GOP holds.

There was some talk of Omaha’s NE-02, and the suburban KS-03 seat being in play, but Trump probably kills GOP hopes to retake Omaha from the Dem incumbent Brad Ashford, while Kansas seems to be a bridge too far for Democrats; even if they get close Kevin Yoder should hang on. Once again a lack of seats in play in states like Missouri and Oklahoma with cheaper media markets cripples Democratic chances of retaking the House.

South (D+5)

Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem: VA-04*, FL-10*
Lean Dem: VA-10*, FL-07*, FL-13*, FL-18, TX-23*
Likely GOP: VA-05, VA-07, NC-06, NC-08, NC-09, NC-13, FL-02*, FL-27, TX-10, TX-14
Lean GOP: FL-26

The south looks to be off the board for Democrats, except in Florida and Virginia, where court ordered redrawn maps will help them gain seats. The open VA-04 and FL-10 seats look set to go in favor of the Democrat, while the GOP will gain the open FL-02 Panhandle seat. Favorable districts in NC will help the GOP hold onto four competitive seats in the state, while South Florida’s FL-26 and 27 should be slightly favoring the Cuban-American GOP incumbents. Hispanics are voting against Trump, but still seem comfortable voting for some local Republicans. Dems should retain their senate nominee Patrick Murphy’s FL-18, while former Governor Charlie Crist looks set to win election to Congress as a Dem in a Tampa area seat, and along with David Jolly, fellow Florida GOP moderate John Mica is in big trouble in FL-07, Both Mica and Jolly seem marooned right now, and Jolly was outright abandoned by the national Republican party vs. Crist due to his crusade against corruption in his own party.

In Virginia, the main seat in play is moderate Barbara Comstock trying to hold on against LuAnn Bennett. With educated white voters in places like NoVA turning against Trump, the tide favors Dems by a small margin. I do have the GOP holding the open VA-05 though. In Texas, Dems should regain TX-23 on the Mexican border thanks to strong Hispanic turnout. That would be former Congressman Pete Gallego over Will Hurd (R).

Mountain West (D+3)

Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem:
Lean Dem: CO-06*, AZ-01, NV-03*, NV-04*
Likely GOP: MT-AL, CO-03
Lean GOP: UT-04, AZ-02

The Nevada GOP is in big trouble, as strong Dem early voting looks to have doomed them in the open NV-03, and in Cresent Hardy’s NV-04, the Hispanic vote has not only helped Dems in Nevada, it also aided them in holding AZ-01 (Ann Kirkpatrick’s open seat). The GOP looks set to hold onto Mia Love’s Salt Lake City area seat (UT-04), thanks to Never Trump voters turning out for Evan McMullin and voting for Love in the process. AZ-02, C0-03, and MT-AL also look to be off the board for Dems thanks to local GOP efforts.

Native American Denise Juneau was a good and inspiring recruit in Montana, but the state is too red at the federal level right now. in Colorado, I have moderate Republican Mike Coffman losing in one of the most expensive, and highest profile House races in the country. Coffman has done everything “right” to hold onto a seat like this, but with Trump on the ballot it appears to be too much of a challenge.

West Coast (D+2)
Competitive seats (*denotes seat party change)
Likely Dem: OR-05, CA-03, CA-07, CA-16. CA-24, CA-52
Lean Dem: CA-25*, CA-49*
Likely GOP: WA-03, WA-08, AK-AL. CA-48
Lean GOP: CA-10

Incumbents should rule out west, including Don Young in Alaska, and Dana Rohrabacher in California, with two notable exceptions, as I have Dems picking up CA-25 and CA-49. One of these seats is over low profile Republican Steve Knight, but the other is against the crusading Tea Partier Darrell Issa.

GOP turnout should be depressed in CA because of Trump, and the fact the Senate race features two Democrats. Meanwhile Dems continue to make gains in the nation’s largest state thanks to the increased minority vote share, including Hispanics. Dems will hold open seats like CA-24 (Lois Capps old seat) as well. I do have Jeff Denham barely hanging on in CA-10, a possible Dem gain.

Below you can see my map prediction for today’s House elections. I see it finishing with the GOP at 232 seats, and the Democrats at 203 seats, a net Dem gain of 14 seats, but still far from what is needed to take back the House. A lot of national Democrats have blamed the Comey letter in hindsight for “losing” the House, but the House was honestly never in play barring a complete GOP collapse because Dem candidate recruitment was so poor in many of these House seats, and opportunities were missed.


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