House races look good

One reason to feel good about the Presidential race is that House polls show the Democrats in a slightly better position than Biden, who, of course, is still ahead. According to Nate Silver of 538, this is the opposite of 2016, where House races were relatively weak for Democrats. The Democrats’ pickup of six House seats was not impressive. To quantify this, in 2016, Republican House candidates actually received more votes than Democrats. In 2018, that swung nine percentage points to the Blue.

Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections and Cook Political Report have made some recent prediction changes, most, but not all, in the Democrats’ direction. (Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball is due for update.)

Of Gonzales’ ten Tossups, 7 are Republican-held. The other three are Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Kendra Horn (the big upset winner of OK-5 last cycle), and Max Rose (NY-11: Staten Island and part of Brooklyn). He has no current D seat worse than Tossup.

This actually makes Gonzales more optimistic than I am about TJ Cox (lean D) and Christy Smith (Tossup to defeat Mike Garcia this time). An early September poll had Cox 11 behind, and the bad news is that Valadao had about his same percentage as 2018. Cox has bled support. He needs enormous Biden turnout with no ticket splitting. Smith is also behind in polling. Neither candidate is particularly hurting for money; they just don’t seem to be connecting with voters.

Polling in Iowa is looking good for all three seats we are defending (Finkenauer, Axne, and Hart to replace Loebsack, in descending order of lead). Unfortunately, JD Scholten’s only chance was Republican renomination of bigot Steve King, and the Iowa Republicans retired him in the primary. Scholten is double-digits behind, which is also why Biden is less than 50-50 to take the state. I have no idea if he is related to Hilary Scholten, who is our relatively long-shot (but closer then JD) candidate to replace Republican-turned-Libertarian Justin Amash in MI-03.

The flip side is that both pundits and polls are now giving us real chances in VA-05 (Cameron Webb) and CO-03 (Diane Mitsch Bush), which became competitive only because Republicans nominated extremist nuts. I found no polls of NC-11 in the last month, where callow Republican youth Madison Cawthorn was caught lying about his education, and even whether his ex-girlfriend dumped him before or after he was paralyzed in an automobile accident. (Before.) He was about 5 ahead when these revelations hit.

Darrel Issa is only barely ahead of Ammar Campa-Najjar in CA-50, too.

Bottom line here is: we are probably losing one or two seats, and winning as many as twelve. We start with two locks in NC from redistricting, four in play in Texas (TX-23 with Gina Ortiz Jones is at least Lean D; three tossup seats with D momentum; two more at the edges of possibility), and have more than one viable candidate in PA, OH, and NY. Then there’s a smattering: the only seat in AK, the only one in MT (surprisingly strong poll this week; Republican is a recent arrival to the state), Schupp even in MO-02, etc. We are playing offense all over the map.

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