Presidential Ratings Changes – Eric Cunningham
In our last ratings update, I gave a list of states that we were keeping an eye on. While we didn’t make any changes then, we feel comfortable making some of them now:
- South Carolina – Safe Republican > Likely Republican
- Kansas – Safe Republican > Likely Republican
- Minnesota – Likely Democratic > Leans Democratic
In South Carolina, Republicans have long been favored and hold a substantial edge in most elections. However, the high Democratic floor, combined with Democratic gains in Charleston, resulted in a closer-than-expected gubernatorial race in 2018. The state has had a large number of polls lately, with most showing a single-digit lead for President Trump. Out of an abundance of caution, we’re moving the race to Likely Republican. It’s worth noting, however, that some of these polls have questionable methodology and that many polls in South Carolina in 2016 showed a close race as well.
Kansas is a similar case. We’re moving it to Likely Republican because polls have consistently shown a single-digit lead in the last few months, including a recent poll from SurveyUSA that was crowdfunded by Election Twitter. As with South Carolina, however, President Trump remains the prohibitive favorite and Democrats are unlikely to make a serious push here. However, with polls still generally bleak for the President, it wouldn’t be surprising if the state is closer than expected.
On the Democratic side, we’re making one change. Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972 but came surprisingly close to flipping in 2016. Recent polls from Emerson College and Morning Consult have shown the race in low single-digits. We’re moving Minnesota to Leans Democratic to reflect this; oddly enough, it might actually be a more viable target for Republicans than Michigan this cycle, which remains at Likely Democratic despite the fact that polls have narrowed slightly.
Senate Ratings Changes – Adam Trencher and Kraz Greinetz
- North Carolina – Tossup > Leans Democratic
- Iowa – Leans Republican > Tossup
Our Senate changes this week reflect both the national environment and state-level polling. We are moving North Carolina to Leans Democrat because the polling there has been brutal for Thom Tillis. He has not led in a nonpartisan poll since June and is stuck in the low 40’s as an incumbent. Given the consistency of Cunningham’s lead, we feel a move here is appropriate.
The next change is in Iowa. Poll after poll shows a tight race between Joni Ernst and challenger Theresa Greenfield. The presidential race is also consistently close. On top of that, Ernst has been seen as running a subpar campaign, with numerous missteps that include seemingly attacking Greenfield’s dog. Iowa is a heavily white and working-class state, so if the national environment narrows, this may move back into the Leans Republican column. But for now, we feel the evidence points squarely to a Tossup race.
We are also closely watching races in South Carolina, Kansas, and Alaska going forward. Insiders have rumbled about these states being potentially competitive for some time, but a dearth of high quality public polling has kept them where they are in our ratings. But if the national environment stays this good for Democrats and we get more high quality polling that shows a narrow race out of these states, they could move.
House Ratings Changes – Harrison Lavelle
This month we have five changes to our House ratings. Three of these changes move in the direction of the Republicans, while two move in the direction of the Democrats.
Our House ratings changes will be discussed in detail on the fifth episode of The Report, which is hosted live every Monday at 7 PM EST/EDT.
You can find our full House ratings table below: