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Our Final House Ratings

Introduction

Split Ticket is predicting a 234 to 201 Republican House majority. That would put the GOP in similar position to the one Democrats held after the 2018 midterms. Today’s update makes 7 minor adjustments, eliminates all 17 TOSSUPS, and moves one race from LEANS DEMOCRATIC to LEANS REPUBLICAN

Our forecast suggests a good night for the GOP in the lower chamber, an expectation consistent with a Republican-leaning national environment. On election night, the GOP’s final seat count — not the net change — should be the most telling metric in the House. Because Republicans are starting out only a few seats short of a 218-seat majority (they are going into the election with 212), they are forecast to amass a comfortable majority while posting a net gain below the 28 seat average for out-parties in midterm years.

What about alternative outcomes? Split Ticket currently believes that an underestimation of the final Republican House majority is very plausible. Such an error would probably stem from misreading undecided voters or turnout dynamics and undershooting the generic ballot, a key environmental indicator, as a result. An R+5 result, for example, would portend ≅ 250-260 seats, whereas a more modest R+2 would align more closely with our calls. If Republicans win more than 250 seats, a true “red wave” outcome, it would be their largest postwar majority.

Another interesting, albeit less likely, scenario would be the Democrats overperforming despite President Biden’s low approval ratings. If Democrats were to mirror their success in fall special elections (i.e. NY-19) on a national scale, the House would be in play and our ratings very wrong. Split Ticket is hesitant to universally extrapolate from unique special elections coalitions, though, so we would say that limiting the size of a hypothetical Republican House majority without holding the chamber outright would be a good night for Democrats.

Peripheral Shifts

Our first changes affect seven seats that we currently place outside of the TOSSUP category. It’s important to remember that the LIKELY rating is applied liberally to account for any race that could be closer than we expect. These races should be decided by clear margins, but there is upset potential in each district.

There are four SAFE to LIKELY shifts in total. California-21, Colorado-3, Washington-6 are moving onto the board because incumbents Jim Costa, Lauren Boebert, and Derek Kilmer underperformed in 2020 and could win by less than 10 points. Though unopposed last cycle, Raja Krishnamoorthi also falls into this category because Illinois-8 is more Republican down-ballot and other Chicagoland Democrats underran expectations in 2020.

 

Three seats are also moving from LIKELY to LEANS: Georgia-2, New Jersey-3, and Washington-3. The LEANS rating indicates that one party is favored to win in each district, but that the possibility of an upset is higher than in a LIKELY race.

Challengers Bob Healey (NJ-03) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) have both fundraised credibly and chipped away at entrenched partisan leanings enough to run competitive races. Sanford Bishop (GA-02) had a close call in 2010 but should win more easily this cycle if Black turnout remains strong, as current numbers suggest, even if his historic ability to win white crossover support flags. The 2nd district is also bluer than it was in 2010.

Picking Tossups

With those preliminary moves out of the way, it’s time to pick each TOSSUP race. Each of these races could easily break for either party, but we feel a duty to our readers to pick a winner in every seat.

California-13 (Biden +11) (LEANS D) Central Valley

Democratic assemblyman Adam Gray is a slight favorite to defeat Republican businessman John Duarte because of the 13th’s baseline partisanship. Gray also outran Biden in Merced and Stanislaus counties during his 2020 legislative reelection. Nevertheless, Duarte remains formidable. The Republican outspent Gray and enjoys strong agribusiness connections. If Hispanic turnout lags in urban cores (i.e. Merced) or the 13th shifts rightward from its R+3.6 primary composition, Duarte could win.

California-22 (Biden +13) (LEANS R) Lower Central Valley

Republican Rep. David Valadao is favored to beat assemblyman Rudy Salas, even though the incumbent is running in a bluer district than the one that elected him in 2020. Valadao outran fundamentals in his last three elections, including a 2018 loss to TJ Cox. Crossover support, supplemented by a Republican-leaning national environment, should benefit him once again. Valadao was among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after Jan. 6th, so if he comes up short, lack of GOP enthusiasm may be to blame. Had it not been for the jungle primary, Valadao likely would’ve lost the GOP nomination.

Assuming a 2020-level shift, the 22nd’s R+9 primary composition would also be high enough for Valadao to survive a bluer general election electorate. Any Salas victory would rest on countering Valadao’s overperformance in Kern County as much as possible while keeping Kings and Tulare close. The Democrat’s legislative seat is similar to the 22nd and he outran Biden there in 2020. 

Illinois-17 (Biden +8) (LEANS R) 

Republican Esther Joy King, who nearly beat retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos in 2020, is favored to defeat Democratic weatherman Eric Sorensen, even though redistricting made the 17th more Democratic. Partisan lean aside, Democrats could have drawn the seat more favorably than they did. Many of the seat’s remaining rural municipalities, along with Rockford’s Hispanic community, swung Republican between 2016 and 2020. If the trends continue this year, it could work in the GOP’s favor.

We ultimately believe that the national environment will push this seat into the GOP column. Joy King has outpaced Sorensen in terms of fundraising and currently has more cash-on-hand. Split Ticket has also learned that some Democrats on the ground doubt Sorensen’s quality as a candidate. From a fundamentals standpoint, though, the Democratic position is less precarious. The 17th is bluer down-ballot and has a more suburban Democratic coalition than similar Republican targets like OH-09 and IN-01.

Indiana-1 (Biden +8) (LEANS R) 

Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green is expected to narrowly beat Democratic incumbent Frank Mrvan. The GOP didn’t touch the 1st district in redistricting because it is already trending Republican, as defections among white working class voters have eroded the Democratic base. Barack Obama won this district by over 20 points in 2012. Lake County, the district’s population core, never voted for the late Sen. Dick Lugar (R) in a contested election.

Green has outmatched Mrvan financially and aims to attract suburban voters in communities like Crown Point, some of whom are Chicagoland expats who aren’t bound to either party. Continued white working class conversion in Lake and Porter counties would also work to Green’s benefit. If the final result is particularly close, perhaps a marginal improvement with Black voters in places like Gary could make a difference. 

But the incumbent is no pushover. The Mrvan name is well-known in Hammond thanks to the congressman’s service as North Township Trustee and his father’s state senate tenure. Mrvan outran Biden in 2020, though some of that can be traced to his weak challenger Mark Leyva, and could garner substantial white working class crossover support thanks to down-ballot lag. The 1st will be an early election night bellwether for Republican chances in the House. (Read our District Rundown)

Maine-2 (Trump +6) (LEANS D) 

Democrat Jared Golden is the slight frontrunner in a rematch against former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Our rating may seem unusual in a Republican-trending seat that backed Trump twice and is one of the nation’s most rural. But Golden is a moderate who knows when to diverge from national Democrats and how to overperform.

In 2018, Golden beat Poliquin in a ranked choice voting instant-runoff. RCV could make the difference in Golden’s reelection too. Tiffany Bond (nonpartisan) received 5.7% in the initial 2018 vote and is running again this year, with polls suggesting she will post a similar performance. Most of her supporters marked Golden as a second preference then and might do so again. Poliquin can still win if the environment is worse than expected, especially if Paul LePage puts heat on Golden’s crossover appeal by dominating the 2nd district in the gubernatorial race. The latest UNH poll confirms our read of this race.

Michigan-7 (Biden +1) (LEANS R) 

Republican state senator Tom Barrett is our pick against incumbent Democrat Elissa Slotkin. Michigan’s new 7th, which split evenly in the 2020 presidential election, includes territory that is familiar to both major party candidates. Slotkin currently represents Ingham (Lansing) and Livingston counties; Barrett’s senate seat takes in Eaton, Clinton, and Shiawassee . If that geographic divide doesn’t suggest an even race, expenditures should. This seat has been one of the most expensive contests in terms of outside spending. 

It’s hard to see Democrats sweeping Michigan’s key contests, especially if the Republican statewide floor ends up higher than statewide polls suggest. Barrett also overperformed in his 2018 state senate reelection, which could counter some of the benefits Slotkin enjoys as an incumbent. Additionally, the 7th is more Republican down-ballot and narrowly backed John James in the 2020 senate race. The presence of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and an abortion referendum on the ballot both support Slotkin’s case, though it’s reasonable to assume there will some be pro-choice Barrett voters.

Michigan-8 (Biden +2) (LEANS D) 

Democratic incumbent Dan Kildee is favored to win against Republican Paul Junge. Like Mrvan, Kildee has strong familial connections to his region — in 2012, he replaced his uncle, who had held the seat since the Carter era. The incumbent also has a strong record of gathering crossover support and outrunning the top of the ticket. Governor Whitmer and the abortion vote might play better in the suburban 7th, but both could conceivably also raise Kildee’s floor. 

Kildee is not out of the woods, though. The new 8th is much redder than Kildee’s old 5th and is generally trending Republican (apart from Midland). Junge was the GOP’s nominee against Slotkin in 2020, and was considered to be a below average candidate then. If Junge wins, the environment in Michigan would simply be redder than we’d expect. 

Minnesota-2 (Biden +7) (LEANS D) 

Incumbent Democrat Angie Craig is expected to defeat Republican Tyler Kistner in a rematch on Tuesday. The 2nd got a shade more Democratic in redistricting but remains based in the suburbs of Minneapolis in Dakota and Scott counties. Trends have worked against Republicans in the populated parts of this seat. Kistner is not a bad candidate, though Craig has beaten him in the fundraising game.

He received only 45.9% of the vote in 2020 but came within 2 points of beating the incumbent thanks to Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks. Weed has since been legalized in Minnesota and, for the second cycle in a row, the LMN candidate has died. That should give Craig a better shot at victory, though nothing is certain if the national environment is redder than expected.

New York-17 (Biden +10) (LEANS D) 

Though Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney has turned into a GOP target as of late, he is the favorite to beat Republican assemblyman Mike Lawler. The 17th, the bluest competitive seat in Upstate New York, initially moved to TOSSUP because momentum seemed to be working against the incumbent. 

Maloney’s reluctance to release supposedly-favorable internal polls suggested he had some hidden vulnerabilities. Those suspicions were confirmed by a sudden reallocation of financial resources from New Jersey-7 that happened soon after.

At the time, Rockland County’s New Square Jewish community had also endorsed Lawler. Their support has since switched to Maloney, potentially swaying a couple thousand high propensity voters back in the Democratic direction. That small portion of the electorate could decide a very close race, even if most Orthodox Jewish voters back Lawler anyway. Jack Ciattarelli found this out the hard way in the 2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election, which would have been much closer had the Lakewood Vaad not endorsed Governor Phil Murphy.

Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin is expected to boost congressional Republicans more on Long Island, but he could still help Upstate candidates unless Hochul’s regional support is particularly consolidated. Lawler and other upstate Republicans *could* benefit from the Hudson Valley’s proclivity for ticket-splitting. On the flipside, though, polling suggests that House Democrats like Maloney could outrun Hochul in the region by enough to win, assuming Zeldin’s margins are modest. In 2014 and 2018, Maloney won reelections even as then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lost his district. 

Nevada-3 (Biden +7) (LEANS R) 

Republican April Becker is favored to defeat Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in the 3rd district, which is the reddest competitive seat in the Silver State. It also has the lowest Hispanic population of the Clark County districts. The 3rd runs southward from marginal precincts in western Las Vegas (Summerlin) to more Democratic turf in Spring Valley and Enterprise. Trends here are mixed, though precincts with more Latino voters predictably swung rightward between the 2016 and 2020 presidential contests. 

The argument for Becker primarily rests on the Democrats’ showing in the Clark County early vote, which has been weaker than in 2018 and 2022. With in-person early voting finished, Nevada guru Jon Ralston has reported that the Democratic firewall is slight but continues to grow as mail-in ballots are counted. Perhaps a good sign for Becker, political analyst Zach Solomon has noted that suburbs have turned out “at a higher rate” than urban portions of Clark east of the district. Solomon’s data also show that the pre-election Democratic lead is slimmer in the 3rd than in the state’s other competitive districts. Republicans’ success in Nevada now hinges on lopsided election day turnout.

Ohio-1 (Biden +8.5) (LEANS R) 

Republican Steve Chabot is favored to beat Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman even though the 1st district got more Democratic in redistricting. In addition to the Black-majority precincts in Cincinnati proper, the seat now includes Hamilton County’s affluent eastern suburbs. The district no longer contains redder suburbs west of the city. Chabot’s frontrunner status is contingent on winning over moderate suburbanites in and bringing out base partisans in Warren County. 

The 1st is trending Democratic, but Chabot might get an assist from popular Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who is expected to carry the district. Landsman is relying on the district’s partisanship, which might be too Democratic for Chabot to overcome even if the environment is Republican-leaning. 

Ohio-9 (Trump +3) (LEANS R) 

In one of our bolder calls, Republican JR Majewski is favored to unseat long-time Democrat Marcy Kaptur despite being left for dead by the national GOP. The redrawn district, based around Lucas County (Toledo), inherently favors Republicans. Its northwestern corner, epitomized by Defiance County, is composed of turf taken from veteran GOP Rep. Bob Latta’s seat. Kaptur has no historical connections to these counties, which should anchor the Republican floor. 

Sandusky County, currently represented by Jim Jordan, is similar despite a regional difference. The suburbs of Toledo, which are marginal but trending Democratic, have not been represented by Kaptur in over a decade due to the “snake on the lake” configuration of her outgoing district. Cuyahoga and Lorain counties, which make up the Cleveland area, have also been removed from Kaptur’s Democratic phalanx. 

While Kaptur does have a history of outrunning the top of the ticket, trends in most of the 9th are not on her side (similar to Indiana-1). Majewski (like Green) is a pro-union Republican and exemplifies many of the working class whites that supported Kaptur in the past and made this district Obama +17 in 2012 but are now Republicans.

It’s hard to see this district voting for any Democrat in a Republican environment, but Kaptur’s pedigree and strong connections to organized labor could carry her over the line. That said, she has typically not had to run in challenging races. Majewski may have found the perfect place to get stranded, something both parties might end up taking for granted. 

Pennsylvania-8 (Trump +3) (LEANS D) 

While Kaptur could go down, Trump-district Democrat Matt Cartwright seems likely to join Jared Golden in surviving a difficult year. Like his Maine colleague, Cartwright is facing an opponent he beat once before: Jim Bognet. After his modest 2020 victory, Cartwright’s 8th district was made 1.5 points bluer in redistricting. The new version supplements Scranton and Wilkes-Barre with Democratic territory around East Stroudsburg in Monroe County. 

Because Cartwright already outperformed Biden in 2020, making him one of the nation’s few crossover members, it stands to reason that he could weather a Republican national environment in a more favorable seat. Bognet could certainly still win, though, especially if there is more straight-ticket voting or the GOP does better than expected nationally.

The recent New York Times-Siena poll of the 8th sums up the race well, with a few caveats. Cartwright led 50-44% in that survey, which had a Biden +3 sample. Adjusting the margin rightward to match the 8th’s actual partisan lean yields a slim Democratic lead without accounting for undecided voters.

If too many of them break for the Republicans, Cartwright would lose, but we expect down-ballot lag to diminish GOP momentum in the 8th. Josh Shapiro, who outran the top of the ticket in Lackawanna County in 2020, could also help Democratic chances in this seat if he comfortably beats Republican Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial election. 

Pennsylvania-17 (Biden +6) (LEANS R) 

In an open race to succeed retiring Democrat Conor Lamb, Republican businessman Jeremy Shaffer is slightly favored to defeat Democrat Chris Deluzio. This Allegheny-Beaver County district got slightly bluer in redistricting thanks to a mixture of Black and white Democrats added south of Penn Hills east of the Pittsburgh city limits.

The Allegheny portion of the seat is redder down-ballot than Beaver County, though it is Democratic-trending unlike its counterpart. Both Shaffer and Deluzio have kept pace with each other in terms of raising and spending, though Shaffer has a cash-on-hand advantage at present. Outside spending has been equally prolific on behalf of both parties’ national groups, suggesting that this seat could be a bellwether for Pennsylvania’s statewide result despite being to the left of the state.

Republican victory relies on favorable trends in Beaver and reversion in the Allegheny suburbs, home to one of the GOP’s traditional blocks. Deluzio and the Democrats are hoping that John Fetterman will exceed expectations in the Senate race, but it’s unclear how much of an impact that would have on suburbs that are rife with likely Oz/Shapiro ticket-splitters — those voters would probably consider voting Republican for Congress, too.

Rhode Island-2 (Biden +14) (LEANS R) 

Republican Allan Fung is favored against Democrat Seth Magaziner in the 2nd district, which spans Rhode Island’s western half. Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, has run as a moderate Republican and enjoyed palpable momentum over the last two months despite his seat’s strong Democratic partisanship. While he lost his 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial bids, he overperformed in Cranston – one of the 2nd’s key towns – on both occasions.

Multiple surveys have showed Fung ahead of Magaziner with a plurality of the vote. A recent Democratic survey showing a 48-48 tie should be particularly concerning for Magaziner, though district polls are highly variable. To win, Fung must mobilize Republican-trending WWCs along the Connecticut border, bring moderate suburbanites back into the GOP fold, and perhaps extend Hispanic inroads in eastern Cranston and Providence that materialized in 2020. If Republican momentum is actually a mirage, the district partisanship should carry Magaziner over the line with a plurality of the vote while capping Fung at +/- 46%. (Read our District Rundown here)

Texas-28 (Biden +7) (LEANS D) & Texas-34 (Biden +15.5) (LEANS R)

South Texas has long been a Democratic bastion up and down the ballot, but the region’s political winds appear to have shifted toward the GOP thanks to Trump’s 2020 inroads. Split Ticket has argued since the start of the 2022 campaign that a good Republican night, whether modest or overwhelming, might have a more pronounced effect along the southern border. Why? Ongoing Republican trends could be exacerbated by the national environment and educational polarization, giving the GOP a chance to sweep all three competitive South Texas congressional races.

In what was perhaps the hardest House race to call on the entire board, veteran Democrat Henry Cuellar is a favorite to beat upstart Republican challenger Cassy Garcia in Texas-28. Cuellar, an ardent social conservative who recently beat back two progressive primary challenges, has been a fixture of the South Texas political scene for over two decades. He outran the top of the ticket in 2020 and his seat got a few points bluer in redistricting. Both candidates are from Webb County (Laredo), which could erode some of Cuellar’s base, and private polling has apparently shown a close race. 

One potential problem for Democrats is general election turnout in the Bexar (San Antonio) portion of the seat, which broke hard for Cisneros in this year’s primary runoff to protest the pro-life Cuellar. Unlike the rest of the seat, that part of the 28th is suburban and Democratic-trending. If enough unenthusiastic voters ignore Cuellar there, it could cost him a tight race.

The 34th District may actually be a more promising target for Republicans, although redistricting turned it into a double-digit Biden seat. Based on our introductory reasoning, Split Ticket wagers that the district’s presidential lean may not be a good gauge of its final result. Along with Florida’s 2nd, the 34th is a rare district that features a general election between two incumbents: Mayra Flores, a Republican who won a special election earlier this year, and Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who technically lives within the new 34th but currently represents more of the redrawn 15th. To win this seat, Republicans must carry Cameron County (Brownsville). Flores took 48% there in the low-turnout special, so we can see her carrying the county by a few points on election day.

Both candidates have kept up with each other in terms of fundraising, though outside Republican groups have outspent their Democratic counterparts – possibly suggesting increased GOP confidence in the seat. Information from the ground seems to corroborate this interpretation. Republican internal polling has shown a true horse race and questions have been raised about the quality of the Gonzalez campaign, which has played catch-up over the last two months.

If Democrats win one, or both, of those South Texas races, it may be due to “down-ballot lag” – a phenomenon where the pace of national trends slows or is subject to reversion in lower elections. If Tuesday’s results were to mirror the dynamics that we saw in the low turnout Texas-34 special in June, Democrats would win general elections in both districts. 

Leans Race Changes

Connecticut-5 (Biden +11) (LEANS D to LEANS R)

Even though the 5th district was not really on the radar in September, Republican George Logan now finds himself favored to unseat Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes. The GOP’s national groups have since upped the pressure on their counterparts, spending significantly in the final weeks before the election – a sign of definite interest. Recent polling appears to support the claim that the race is very close.

Some observers have doubted Hayes’s effectiveness as an incumbent. At the same time, Logan has attempted to run as a mainstream conservative with certain caveats (i.e. being pro-choice) well-tuned to attract crossover support from Biden voters in northwestern Connecticut. We don’t like to put too much stock in subjective interpretations of candidate strength, but the 5th is more Republican down-ballot and the Naugatuck Valley intuitively feels like the best opportunity for GOP success in the Nutmeg State because Joe Courtney is on the ballot in the 2nd.

Along with Rhode Island-2, this is the second Republican pickup that Split Ticket is projecting in New England. On paper, the 5th seems like the better GOP target. Historical precedent also supports this line of reasoning, as Republicans held the 5th as recently as January 2007. Democrats, meanwhile, have won the 2nd consistently since 1990. In other words, these districts appear poised to vote for the same party – whichever that may end up being. Our gut feeling, combined with district fundamentals, tells us that Democrats should win both. Interpretations of the national environment paint a different picture. If the calls are right, it will be a testament to candidate quality that Republicans lose redder New England targets like Maine-2 and New Hampshire-1 while carrying these two seats.

Leans Races That Could Go Wrong

Midterm House elections are rife with unexpected outcomes because it is functionally impossible to call all 435 districts properly. Seats rated LEANS are especially susceptible to incorrect judgements because most of them could be TOSSUPs anyway. As discussed in Split Ticket’s sleeper write-up, no underdog victory in a LEANS race would be a fluke. Just some of the LEANS races where our calls could be wrong are provided below:

California-49 (Levin) is probably the best opportunity Republicans have to pick off a Democratic seat in the Golden State. Levin underperformed against the same opponent, Brian Maryott, in 2020 and his seat got redder in redistricting. If Zeldin comes close enough to Hochul, his Long Island coattails could pull Republican George Santos over the line in New York-3 (Open) even though national Republicans have neglected to spend. 

In Oregon-6 (Open) baseline partisanship should help Democrat Andrea Salinas, especially if Tina Kotek wins the governorship, but cut-throat national investment and close fall polling continue to suggest a thoroughly-competitive race. The situation is similar in Virginia-7 (Spanberger) and Washington-8 (Schrier), where fundamentals (i.e. WA primary) point to modest Democratic victories, but the national environment and district polling leave the door open for unexpected results.

Two seats where Republicans are favored to win, Nebraska-2 (Bacon) and New York-19 (Open), could also go the other way. If the “Dobbs effect” dampens GOP momentum in the Plains States, Nebraska-2 could vote similarly to Kansas-3. Don Bacon outran the top of the ticket in 2020, but Tony Vargas should keep it close. In New York-19, Republican Marc Molinaro lost an August special election and must now contest a bluer seat without Dutchess County. Split Ticket believes that crossover voters will carry Molinaro over the line with general election turnout, but Democrat Josh Riley could come out on top if Hochul holds serve in Upstate New York. 

Nevada-1 (Titus) and New Hampshire-1 (Pappas) are two other districts that could very easily throw out their Democratic incumbents. Titus was tied 47-47 in the NYT-Siena poll and Pappas lead Leavitt just 50-49 in the final UNH survey released shortly ago. GOP wins would not surprise us in either of these seats based on the other evidence available.

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