ANALYSIS — While a century of midterm election trends and President Joe Biden’s static disapproval rating continue to point to a big 2022 for House Republicans, delays in the redistricting process and the lack of district-level data make it more difficult to make individual race ratings and specific projections about how many seats the GOP will gain.
With less than six months before Election Day, however, the House battleground is starting to crystallize, no thanks to cartographers in New Hampshire, New York and Florida. And GOP prospects are improving in at least a handful of seats.
There’s still a chance for Biden to regain some of his political footing. But pervasive economic issues from inflation to high gas prices to supply chain disruptions — as well as crime — continue to dominate the conversation, and voters are poised to punish Democrats in power for the lack of progress on solutions.
In California, Orange County is looking like a potential problem for Democrats. The traditionally Republican area clearly didn’t see eye to eye with former President Donald Trump, but it could snap back to the GOP. Democratic Rep. Katie Porter won’t lose for a lack of campaign funds (she had $17.8 million at the end of March), but she might have a political problem that money can’t fix. Former state Assembly Minority Leader Scott Baugh would be a credible challenger for Republicans. The rating of the 47th District race has changed in the GOP’s favor from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic.
Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is one of Republicans’ most visible firebrands, but Democrats this year are going to have a hard time winning any districts like hers, which Trump won by 8 points in 2020. And if Boebert happens to lose the June 28 primary, Republicans will have an even better chance of holding her 3rd District. Democrats will raise a lot of money because donors recognize her, but this seat isn’t flipping this cycle. The rating has moved from Likely Republican to Solid Republican.
While most of the vulnerable House Democrats have been through difficult races recently, that’s not the case for 75-year-old Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia. The 2nd District’s large Black population and Biden’s 10-point victory in 2020 gives the congressman some cushion, but the seat is within reach for Republicans, considering Biden’s unpopularity. Jeremy Hunt, an Army veteran and Fox News commentator, could develop into a serious candidate, but he had just $144,000 in the bank on May 4. Bishop has slowly ramped up his fundraising and had $778,000. This is a race to watch. The rating has moved from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic.
Democratic Indiana Rep. Frank J. Mrvan isn’t battle-tested either. The 1st District in northwest Indiana shifted rapidly toward Republicans at the presidential level and is developing into a headache for Democrats at the House level. Republicans believe former Air Force pilot Jennifer-Ruth Green has a lot of potential, even though her early fundraising has been underwhelming. This will be much different than Mrvan's 16-point victory in 2020 in a race to which few people outside of the district were paying attention. The rating of this race has changed in the GOP’s favor from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic.
The rating of all three Democratic-held seats in Nevada has shifted toward Republicans. The most vulnerable incumbent continues to be Susie Lee in the 3rd District, where 2020 state Senate nominee April Becker is getting the most buzz from Republicans. That race has changed from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic.
Reps. Dina Titus in Nevada’s 1st District and Steven Horsford in the 4th District are also extremely vulnerable. Republicans have competitive primaries in both seats, but Biden didn’t win them by enough in 2020 to make Democrats comfortable at all in this political environment. The rating of both races has shifted from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic. In a GOP wave, it’s not hard to see Republicans winning all three races, giving them full control of the House delegation for the first time since the late 1990s, when Nevada only had two districts.
Even though Biden would have carried Rhode Island’s 2nd District with 56 percent in 2020, a combination of the political environment, Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin not seeking reelection and a strong Republican candidate has created a takeover opportunity. Democrats will choose a nominee out of a competitive primary on Sept. 13. Meanwhile, likely GOP nominee Allan Fung will continue to ramp up his fundraising and campaign. An inexpensive media market will attract plenty of outside spending. The rating of the race has moved from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic.
Thanks to a vote-counting calamity in Clackamas County on May 17, winners still haven’t been declared in Oregon’s 5th District primaries. Attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner is poised to defeat Rep. Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary. But even if Schrader survives, the seat is within reach for Republicans. Former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer will likely be the GOP nominee and give Republicans a credible contender in this newly drawn seat. The rating of the race has shifted from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic.
While Republicans are bullish on dozens of races around the country, strategists aren’t particularly excited about Illinois’ 14th District. According to the 2020 presidential numbers, Biden won with 55 percent, so it should be within reach for the GOP with the president’s slumping job rating. But Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood had nearly $2.4 million in the bank on March 31, and Republicans don’t have confidence in their candidates. It’s also an expensive seat for outside groups to get involved with because of the Chicago media market. Underwood is still vulnerable, but the rating of the race has moved from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.
Rating changes toward Republicans
- California’s 47th District (Katie Porter, D) from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Colorado’s 3rd District (Lauren Boebert, R) from Likely Republican to Solid Republican
- Georgia’s 2nd District (Sanford Bishop, D) from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic
- Indiana’s 1st District (Frank J. Mrvan, D) from Sold Democratic to Likely Democratic
- Nevada’s 1st District (Dina Titus, D) from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Nevada’s 3rd District (Susie Lee, D) from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- Nevada’s 4th District (Steven Horsford, D) from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Oregon’s 5th District (Kurt Schrader, D) from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Rhode Island’s 2nd District (Jim Langevin, D) from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic
Rating change toward Democrats
- Illinois’ 14th District (Lauren Underwood, D) from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.