October 25, 2020

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Which House seats could flip in November?

Here are the 10 House seats most likely to flip parties, updated from our rankings in July. There are three on this list that haven’t been on it before. And we’re taking off one seat that was previously in our top five: Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) in South Carolina’s 1st District, where it looks like he’s consolidating enough support and money to be reelected, or at least stay out of the top 10.

10. Minnesota 7th (Democratic-held, new to the list): Longtime Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D) has been remarkably resilient in a rural farming district that Trump won by 30 points in 2016 and will probably win by double digits again. But Republicans think this time, he’ll lose. They’ve nominated former lieutenant governor Michelle Fischbach, who is outraising Peterson. Here, the Republican base is consolidating behind Trump despite his poor polling on handling the pandemic. The question is whether Peterson, who voted against Trump’s impeachment and drums up his farm bill expertise, has a brand that can outrun how conservative this district has become. “He’s just wearing the wrong jersey in a Trump district,” one Republican said.

9. New Jersey 2nd (Republican-held, new to the list): Here’s a head-spinner for you: Democrats are trying to take out a lawmaker who helped them win the House in 2018. Rep. Jeff Van Drew got elected as a Democrat then became a Republican a year later during impeachment. Trump won this South Jersey district in 2016, but do moderate voters feel burned by Van Drew’s switching? He has a strong challenger in Democrat Amy Kennedy (yes, of that Kennedy family). And as outside Democratic groups advertise against him, accusing him of being a Trump loyalist, Van Drew has perplexingly not responded in kind on TV.

8. Texas 24th (Republican-held but will be open in 2020, previous ranking 6): After Democrats surprised even themselves with how well they did in the Texas suburbs in 2018, there are a number of Texas races Democrats see as competitive this year. This district in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is now majority-non-White, and GOP Rep. Kenny Marchant is retiring. Democrats say they’re genuinely excited about their nominee, Candace Valenzuela, who has a compelling life story that includes being homeless as a child. But Republicans think Democrats are getting over their skis. They see a district that favors Trump, and Valenzuela is up against former Irving mayor and Trump administration official Beth Van Duyne, who is better-known.

7. Ohio 1st (Republican-held, new to the list): This Cincinnati-area district is another suburban seat that Democrats say is getting more competitive for them in an hurry. Rep. Steve Chabot (R) is trying to run for a 13th term after getting 51 percent of the vote in 2018 against a troubled Democrat. Both sides sense this is going to be a close race after Democrats nominated health-care executive Kate Schroder, who is trying to use one of the Democrats’ strongest 2018 talking points, health care, to drive Democratic turnout in this district that narrowly voted for Trump in 2016.

6. Georgia 7th (Republican-held but will be open in 2020, previous ranking 10): Greater Atlanta is ground zero for Democrats’ attempts to own suburban America. This once-conservative district is no longer majority-White. And even though it voted for Trump in 2016, a Democrat nearly won it in 2018 (Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams did win the district). Plus, it’s now an open seat as Rep. Rob Woodall (R) is retiring. His 2018 challenger, Carolyn Bourdeaux, is the Democratic nominee again. She’ll face Marine veteran and physician Rich McCormick. This is still a conservative-leaning district, and it will test Democrats’ ability to get out the vote in Georgia, especially among suburban women. But Democrats are more optimistic by the week.

5. New York 22nd (Democratic-held, previous ranking 8): This is one of Republicans’ best pickup opportunities. Democrat Anthony Brindisi won this central New York seat by two points in 2018; Trump won the district by 15 points. Republicans think Brindisi’s win was a fluke, and now he has a record they can wield to try to pin him as a standard Democrat. Specifically, that he voted to impeach Trump. He’s up against a challenger both sides previously cast as weak, Claudia Tenney. But Republicans say she’s running a better campaign this time around, and they think the conservative lean of this district signals good things for them.

4. Utah 4th (Democratic-held, and back on the list after we took it off in the last rankings): Rep. Ben McAdams (D) was the leading front of impressive Democratic wins in 2018. Last summer, we ranked his reelection in this Salt Lake City suburban district as the most likely to flip, but then took it off the list as a Republican primary created uncertainty. Now Republicans have nominated former NFL player Burgess Owens, a regular on Fox News with a grass-roots conservative following. But McAdams is overall well-liked and has been raising millions of dollars, whereas Owens has relatively little to spend. Still, this is the most partisan district represented by the other side.

3. Oklahoma 5th (Democratic-held, previous ranking 2): After winning narrowly in this Oklahoma City and suburban district, Rep. Kendra Horn (D) is the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s delegation. Trump won her district in 2016 by double digits, and Horn voted for his impeachment. After a primary battle, Republicans nominated state Sen. Stephanie Bice, who has a lot of catching up to do financially. One Democratic strategist thinks Horn has built enough of an independent voice to win here, another thinks she is at risk of being tagged as a generic Democrat.

2. New Mexico 2nd (Democratic-held, previous ranking 1): Republicans think Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) is the poster candidate for a Democrat who basically ran as a moderate Republican in 2018 and now has a voting record that reveals her to be more of a Democrat than the district might want. She’s again facing former GOP state representative Yvette Herrell, who lost by 1 percentage point in 2018 and now has Trump at the top of the ticket to help her in this Trump-friendly part of the state. Torres Small is raising millions of dollars and talking about how she’s worked with the president.

1. Texas 23rd (Republican-held but will be open in 2020, previous ranking 3): Both sides agree the open race to represent this vast border district is going to be close, but both sides are also pretty confident they’re going to win it. The majority-Hispanic district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is one of just a few like it that Democrats haven’t picked up since. Rep. Will Hurd (R) has stymied Democrats, but he’s retiring. Democrat and Iraq War veteran Gina Ortiz Jones came close to beating Hurd last year. Now she’ll face lesser-known former Navy cryptologist Tony Gonzales, who first had to spend precious time and money in a competitive primary and is supported by Trump. Still, the House Republicans’ campaign committee recently put $2.6 million down to try to keep this in their column for another two years.

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