Election season is starting to kick into full gear, and with it comes a clearer electoral picture. In today’s ratings update, we’re shifting six congressional districts and rating each of the four upcoming special elections.
In case you missed it, we also launched our inaugural Presidential ratings update last week. You can see our new presidential ratings for the 2024 cycle here.
- CA-27 (Mike Garcia, Republican): Leans Republican>Tossup
- LA-06 (Garrett Graves, Republican): Safe Republican>Safe Democratic
- MI-07 (Elisa Slotkin, Democratic): Leans Democratic>Tossup
- MN-02 (Angie Craig, Democratic): Leans Democratic>Likely Democratic
- PA-10 (Scott Perry): Safe Republican>Likely Republican
- PA-17 (Chris Deluzio, Democratic): Leans Democratic>Likely Democratic
First off, we’re moving Louisiana’s 6th district to Safe Democratic. Court-ordered redistricting resulted in this seat being redrawn, creating a second majority-black seat. However, this new district is only dubiously legal; we’re unsure if this exact design will stick, as courts struck down a similar configuration in the 1990s. This district will likely be used in the upcoming House elections, but if it is changed, we will reconsider our rating here. A more compact draw focusing around the Mississippi Delta would potentially be more competitive.
Additionally, we’re moving five other districts. In California, we’re shifting Mike Garcia’s Los Angeles County-based district back to a Tossup. We’re also moving Michigan’s 7th district to a Tossup; incumbent Elisa Slotkin is running for Senate, and without her in this highly-competitive seat, we think it’s a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans. In Minnesota, on the other hand, we’re moving Angie Craig’s 2nd district to Likely Democratic. The suburban seat is the sort of district we expect Republicans to continue to backslide in.
Finally, Pennsylvania, we’re shifting two districts towards the Democrats. We’re moving the Harrisburg-based PA-10, represented by Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry, onto the board at Likely Republican, and we’re moving the 17th district to Likely Democratic.
Special election ratings
- CA-20 (Kevin McCarthy, Republican): Safe Republican
- NY-03 (George Santos, Republican): Leans Democratic
- NY-26 (Brian Higgins, Democratic): Safe Democratic
- OH-06 (Bill Johnson, Republican): Safe Republican
Of the upcoming slate of four special elections, we only expect one to be competitive. CA-20, NY-26, and OH-06 are all in seats that are far out of reach for the minority party. In fact, it’s possible CA-20 might not even have a Democrat in the top-two at all. The exception here? NY-03, formerly represented by serial fabulist George Santos.
On paper, NY-03 is one of the most interesting seats in the country. The district, which contains portions of Nassau County and Queens, is heavily suburban and very affluent. Although Biden won the district by 10 points, Long Island has experienced a rapid realignment in local and state politics in recent years; Republicans now hold virtually all elected positions in Nassau, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin carried the county and district by a wide margin in 2022. With the now-expelled Santos out of the picture, the nominees are Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (who represented the seat from 2017 to 2023) and Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip (running on the Conservative and Republican lines).
Polling here shows a close race, but Pilip trails in both polling averages and in fundraising. Suozzi, a moderate, is a good ideological fit for the seat, and the backdrop of Santos provides a shadow Pilip will be hard-pressed to emerge from. We expect this race to be close, but we think Suozzi has the advantage.
On top of our ratings changes this week, we’re keeping a handful of states on the radar for future changes.
In New York, Democrats are hoping the state’s independent commission will either draw more favorable maps for them, or deadlock, allowing the legislature to produce a harsh gerrymander. The deadline for the commission is February 28, so we’ll be seeing progress here soon.
We’re also eyeing two other states for potential redraws. In Wisconsin, it’s expected that the state supreme court’s new liberal majority will strike down the current congressional map sometime this year. Democrats would likely hope to see the cities of Milwaukee and Madison cracked, with districts 3 and 1 at the most direct risk of flipping. However, it’s unclear exactly how aggressive a court-ordered map would be; Wisconsin’s political geography is notoriously terrible for Democrats, and a crack in Milwaukee would jeopardize the seat’s majority-minority status.
Finally, in South Carolina, there is pending litigation over the 1st congressional district. Democratic lawsuits succeeded in creating new majority-black seats in Alabama and Louisiana, but South Carolina would be a more challenging proposition – it doesn’t have the black population to support another majority-black seat. It’s entirely possible a redraw is ordered, but a majority-black seat isn’t in the cards.