Tossups offer Democrats plenty of targets
We have 18 seats in the Tossup category, and only four of them are currently held by Democrats. This is to be expected; the Republican House majority was built off of wins in districts Biden won. Four of these districts (CA-13, CA-22, NY-04, and NY-17) were double-digit Biden districts, and a slew more were in the Biden+8 range. We expect NY-04, a Biden+14.5 district in Long Island, would be the hardest one of the bunch for Republicans to hold; we wouldn’t be surprised if this shifts to Leans Democratic by the end. Democrats will also likely target Biden-won districts like AZ-01, NE-02, NJ-07, and OR-05, and of course George Santos’s NY-03.
On the Democratic side, Alaska should be the hardest district to hold – on paper. This is a Trump+10 state, after all. But first-term Democrat Mary Peltola won a majority of the vote in 2022, even accounting for spoiled ballots. She’ll be an intimidating candidate to face, but will also have to navigate a first full term – and the difficult votes that will come from it.
Two other Trump-won seats (PA-08 and WA-03) are also on this list. In PA-08, Matt Cartwright has proven to be a strong incumbent, but his seat’s rightward trend can’t be ignored. WA-03, meanwhile, was a surprise flip for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who narrowly beat inept populist Republican Joe Kent. Kent has already announced another run, and former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler appears poised to attempt a comeback. If Kent is the nominee, it’s hard to see him winning, but any other Republican would have favorable odds in this Trump+4 seat.
Unlike our Tossup category, Democrats hold more seats in our Leans category. These include a number of 2022’s near-misses for Republicans, many of them concentrated in the midwest – districts like IL-17, IN-01, MI-07, and MI-08. We don’t think these districts fall into the Tossup category just yet, but they certainly could further along the line. One seat to keep an eye on here is Elissa Slotkin’s MI-07. Slotkin has announced a run for Senate; we’ll likely move this district to the Tossup column sooner rather than later.
On the Republican side, nearly half of their Leans Republican seats come from California. Ken Calvert’s Riverside County-based CA-41 will likely be a key Democratic target. Democrats will also focus once again on unseating Mike Garcia. CA-27 is a double-digit Biden seat, but Garcia managed to improve to a 6.4% victory despite the seat becoming bluer in redistricting. This category also includes a few oddball seats. FL-13, for example, will likely a stretch Democratic target; Anna Paulina Luna won a closer-than-expected victory here in 2022, despite a red wave statewide. Democrats would also love to take out Lauren Boebert in CO-03, but it’s unclear if their 2022 near-victory can be repeated.
The stretch goals
On the Democratic side, the most important of these stretch seats to watch might be CA-47. This Orange County seat is trending Democratic, but incumbent Katie Porter is running for Senate and Newsom actually lost the district in 2022. There’s also two districts in Florida that nearly flipped in 2022’s red wave – FL-09 in central Florida, and FL-23 in Broward and Palm Beach. We don’t expect these double-digit Biden seats to be as competitive this time around, but both are still worth watching.
The Republican field here includes a noteworthy seats. PA-01 will likely be a closer Democratic target this time, but incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick has an impressive local brand that has survived difficult races before. MO-02 includes a number of Democratic-trending suburban areas, but likely won’t be a true top-tier target for a few more cycles. NY-01, a competitive Long Island district, won’t be a major focus as Democrats instead target NY-03 and NY-04. Two other interesting seats here are IA-01 and IA-02, where incumbent Republicans were held to wins of under 10%.
A note on North Carolina and Ohio
You might notice that our ratings don’t include two states: North Carolina and Ohio. This is because both states will be redrawing their congressional lines. If we were to include both states, our ratings would likely give Republicans the edge in around 211-213 districts, and Democrats the edge in around 202-203 districts
In North Carolina, the legislature will redraw the lines later this year for the third time in the last four cycles. Because last cycle’s map was an interim map, it could only be used for one cycle. Last cycle, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 along party lines to strike down the legislature’s maps and approve ones created by special masers. This cycle, the Supreme Court is 5-2 Republican, and we expect them to disregard or overturn the previous 4-3 Democratic majority’s rulings on redistricting. We believe this redraw will target either three or four Democrats, resulting in either an 11-3 or 10-4 Republican majority.
We’re fairly confident that Deborah Ross (NC-02), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), and Alma Adams (NC-12) will be safe, leaving Don Davis (NC-01), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Wiley Nickel (NC-13), and Jeff Jackson (NC-14) on the chopping block. However, we simply don’t feel comfortable rating districts that don’t exist yet. Once the new map has been produced later this year, we’ll evaluate it and upgrade our ratings accordingly. For now, we’re leaving the state’s 14 districts as Pending Redraw.
We’re adopting a similar approach to Ohio. The state is also obligated to redraw its congressional map, and the state Supreme Court is now firmly in conservative hands. However, it’s not clear whether Ohio Republicans will be as aggressive as North Carolina Republicans are expected to be. Ohio’s delegation already is split 10-5 after Democrats won all three competitive seats last time. It’s possible to draw a map with as few as two Democratic districts, but it remains to be seen whether Republicans want to press forward with such an extreme redraw. We have the state’s 15 districts as Pending Redraw.