July is a boring month. Other than Maryland’s primaries on July 19th, no other state holds primaries in July. However, we do have some changes to make from the last primary day in June. We’re also mentioning some House races to watch that we didn’t change but we may change in the future.
- NC-09: Likely Republican to Safe Republican
- RI-02: Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- CO-Sen: Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic
- IL-Gov: Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic
We have two changes in statewide races from last time. On the senate side, we’ve moved Colorado’s Senate race on the board after their primary. Colorado GOP voters, after $4 million in Democratic Party spending was spent pushing the far-right Ron Hanks on them, instead chose the much more moderate Joe O’Dea. In his victory speech, O’Dea called himself the “Republican Joe Manchin”. That’s the type of messaging a Republican needs now in Colorado. With his nomination, there’s now a slight chance Republicans could knock off incumbent Michael Bennet in this race, and we’d see it as the fifth-most likely Republican flip of the cycle – behind New Hampshire, but ahead of Washington.
In Illinois, it’s the other way around. After a Trump endorsement, downstate state senator Darren Bailey romped to victory. While not an extremist like Hanks, Bailey is a very right-wing state senator, something that just won’t play in Illinois, especially as Republicans need to win suburban counties to counter Chicago and Cook County. We now consider this race Safe for Democrats and incumbent J. B. Pritzker.
We have two house changes this update, both in favor of Republicans. In North Carolina, we’ve pulled NC-09 off the board. This Trump+8 seat was one we had up as a hedge. However, the environment is clearly not showing one that would see a Trump+8 seat flip, especially one as consistently Republican as this. An easy move to Safe Republican.
Finally, the most interesting change comes in RI-02. A seat we were surprised still existed after reapportionment may be one that could give Republicans a rare New England House seat. Recent polling came out showing Allan Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, leading all the Democratic candidates for this seat, including Treasurer Seth Magaziner. Fung is a New England Republican in all sense of the term, and would certainly be a moderate vote in the GOP caucus. We have seen Republican base voters screw up in these sorts of primaries before with a candidate like Fung, but he was clearly helped by this polling. 2020 nominee Robert Lancia dropped out after this poll, leaving Fung unopposed for the nomination and giving him a clear path to the general. This isn’t a tossup race yet, but it is one of a couple of double-digit Biden seats outside of California that are clearly competitive.
Currently, we have Republicans as favored in 220 seats, Democrats favored in 191 seats, and 24 seats rated as tossups.
Races to watch
There are also a couple of races we’re keeping our eyes on for rating changes at the end of the month. In the House, two western seats in CO-08 and CA-13 are ones we’re watching for ratings changes. We thought about it for this update, but have decided to wait for fundraising numbers from the candidates. Both would move towards Republicans, with CA-13 moving to Tossup and CO-08 moving to Leans Republican, if we were to move them next time. CA-13 in fact may end up being one of the most interesting House races this cycle, as the Central Valley seat seems set to be incredibly close by Election Day.
We were also planning on shifting IL-06 to Likely Democratic. This was in response to Sean Casten winning the primary against Marie Newman. However, former Rep. Dan Lipinski has decided he may run as an independent. He will announce his decision today. We will hold the rating at Lean Democratic or make the planned change depending on his decision.
Then in terms of statewide races, Oregon seems set to have a three way race this year. Two recent polls showed independent candidate Betsy Johnson pulling over 20% of the vote against Tina Kotek and Christine Drazan, which makes her a legitimate candidate in this race. If we continue to see polling like that, we would have to move the race to Tossup between these three candidates, with Oregon having a legitimate possibility of electing a independent as their governor.