Even as generic congressional ballot polling has indicated that Republicans are making up some ground ahead of 2018 midterm election, Democrats are widening their targets and a nonpartisan analysis shows that more GOP incumbents might be at risk.
On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expanded its House battleground list to 101 Republican-held seats, an increase from its 91 targets as of November 2017.
“We have a long way to to go and won’t take anything for granted, but are on track to take back the House in November,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said in a statement.
In what it’s calling the largest battlefield in a decade, the DCCC added seven targets, including races in South Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas. This decision was bolstered by the DCCC’s own polling that showed President Trump underwater in a number of Republican districts in addition to the 23 GOP districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, according to a report by NBC News.
New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District is among the new targets—where Rep. Chris Smith won re-election in 2016 with almost 64 percent of the vote. It would be a tough hill to climb to say the least, but Republicans in the state are in danger, particularly with the recent announcement of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s retirement.
In South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District, Democrat Archie Parnell is running again after narrowly losing a 2017 special election by just 3 percentage points.
Finally, Democrats also are looking at Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, where Rep. Steve Stivers, who also serves as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, beat his opponent in 2016 with 66 percent of the vote.
The Democrats’ bullishness on 2018 was bolstered by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which issued new ratings for 21 districts on Thursday.
Included in that analysis is Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, which is now open after Rep. Patrick Meehan decided he would not seek re-election after it was revealed he settled a sexual-harassment complaint by a former aide. Meehan’s decision caused Cook to move the race from a “toss-up” to a likely Democratic gain. His district is one of many gerrymandered districts in the state that could be changed after the congressional map is redrawn in Pennsylvania this year.
Cook also moved New Jersey’s Second Congressional District, where Rep. Frank LoBiondo announced he would not seek re-election, from a toss-up to a lean Democratic district.
Another factor, Cook notes, is fundraising.
“In the fourth quarter of 2017, 39 Republican House incumbents were outraised by at least one Democratic challenger,” David Wasserman wrote.
At the same time, former Vice President and prospective 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden seemed to agree with the DCCC’s assessment. During an address to House Democrats on Wednesday, he said, “Go out and holler, guys. Go out and holler. You are going to win back the House!"