With only five days left until the midterm, time is running out for both parties to make their last-second plays ahead of Election Day. We’re shifting eight races in our second to last update of this cycle. That means Monday will be a big one as we clear out all our tossup races – 18 House races, along with four Senate races and four gubernatorial races. But for now, here are the six House and two statewide changes in this penultimate ratings update.
The House Changes
Two of our six changes here are moving races on the board out of caution. A goal of ours is to make sure none of the races we rate as Safe for either party end up flipping. With that in mind, we’re moving both IL-06 and NJ-03 from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic. Outside money is coming in for both seats, though significantly more to Illinois 6th, where incumbent Democrat Sean Casten may be getting a tighter-than-expected-race from Orland Park mayor Keith Pekau.
It’s not the same situation in New Jersey’s 3rd, where incumbent Andy Kim got helped by a map favoring his party pretty significantly. The removal of Ocean County turned his seat into a Biden+17 seat. But this part of New Jersey has been open to big swings, and GOP nominee Bob Healey is able to self-fund. With both of these changes, that doesn’t mean we think Republicans win either of these seats. However, we think their chances in these seats are now closer to 10-15% than to 0%.
We’re also shifting NY-03 from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. This Biden+8 seat, made up of parts of Nassau County and Queens, is one that could draw a lot of intrigue Tuesday night. It’s open, with Thomas Suozzi retiring early this year to make a doomed run for Governor. That leaves Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos as the two candidates. Not as much outside money has been spent here, but Santos is personally wealthy enough to keep up with the usual Democratic Party money printer. We don’t know if it will be enough, but it’s enough to move this into a more competitive rating than where the race is now.
Finally, we’re moving three of our Tossup races to the Leans Republican column: CA-22, NV-03, and TX-28. In California’s 22nd, we now favor incumbent Republican David Valadao over Democrat Rudy Salas. We do think Valadao pulls it out again in this Biden+13 district, as outside money has been redirected in the Central Valley more towards the open 13th district.
In Nevada’s 3rd, we see Republican April Becker as the favorite over incumbent Democrat Susie Lee. Lee was considered the most endangered of the three Democratic house incumbents in Nevada. Even with the gerrymander around Las Vegas, Lee’s southern Clark County district has Republican DNA. And with GOP chances growing in Nevada, and specifically around Clark, our feeling is that Becker pulls this one out over Lee. Limited polling exists, but a new poll from Emerson shows Becker with an advantage, up five on Lee. All those factors have us believing that Becker is now a slight favorite over Lee.
Finally, in Texas’s 28th, we see Cassy Garcia as the favorite over incumbent Henry Cuellar. This comes as Republican insiders are increasingly confident in a sweep in the Rio Grande Valley. We already have Republicans favored in TX-15 and TX-34, and we now see them taking the 28th as well. The fallout for Democrats around this part of Texas has been well covered, and we think the bottom will well and truly fall out. We do think this will be the closest of the three races, as Cuellar’s long time incumbency will help him here in this seat. But we see it as a dawn of a new political era in the RGV. And that era is not one that favors Democrats.
First, of our two changes to statewide races, we’re shifting New Hampshire’s senate race from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. A sudden explosion of polling from the Live Free or Die state has caused pause over the state of its senate race. After Labor Day, with outside and GOP groups pulling funding from the state, we figured Maggie Hassan was a pretty solid favorite. However, the last four polls show Hassan up by four, up by one, tied with Republican Don Bolduc, and in a surprise, down one to Bolduc. This makes us think that Hassan is still a favorite, but not as strong as we believed she’d be.
Finally, we’re shifting one of our tossup gubernatorial races. Nevada has been a big GOP target state since the start of the cycle. And with five days to go, we now believe that in one of those races, Republicans are favored. We’re shifting Nevada from Tossup to Leans Republican. Polling has shifted towards Republican Joe Lombardo in the past two weeks, leading in all but two of the last ten that have been released. The Clark County mail firewall for Democrats is not operating at the level for Democrats to be feeling confident as well. With that in mind, we feel confident in saying that Lombardo is now a slight favorite.