ANALYSIS — For most of the cycle, Republicans were on the march to majorities in the House and the Senate, propelled by voter backlash to President Joe Biden’s handling of various challenges including the economy, crime and immigration.
That effort stalled in late June after the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, which awakened apathetic Democrats and caused independent voters to think twice about putting Republicans in charge. But with a little more than two weeks to go before Election Day, Republicans have regained the momentum as undecided voters prioritize the economy. It’s starting to feel like Democrats’ summer surge never happened.
Republicans have closed the gap on the national generic ballot after Democrats held the lead for the past two months. And a GOP edge is developing in a disproportionate number of individual competitive races. Republicans have always been favorites to regain the House majority — the only uncertainty has been about the margin.
For the past couple of weeks, the GOP recovery has been uneven, geographically. Republican candidates have the momentum in New York and Oregon, while Democrats are holding their own in Michigan and Nevada. Open seats around the country continue to be problematic for Democrats.
Inside Elections recently changed the ratings in 21 House races. Thirteen of those shifts were to a category more favorable to Republicans, and eight were shifts toward Democrats.
GOP could gain up to 25 seats
Republicans, who need a net gain of five seats to take the House majority, are expected to gain eight to 25 seats, a slight revision higher for the GOP from the previous range of eight to 20. If late-deciding voters break against Democrats, or if Democratic enthusiasm drops a bit, Republicans could see larger gains. But that dynamic is difficult to pick up considering the candidates, parties and outside groups stop polling in the final days because their strategic decisions have already been made.
The fight for the Senate is much closer, creating a dissonance with the situation in the House. Democrats still have a slight advantage to retain control (including another 50-50 Senate), with a most likely range of a Democratic gain of a seat to a Republican gain of a seat.
Unique circumstances have forced Republicans to pay attention to Senate races in Ohio, Utah, Alaska and even Iowa, where Inside Elections recently changed the rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. GOP Sen. Charles E. Grassley is still the favorite, but it’s hard to ignore a recent poll from Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer that showed the senator with a 46 percent-43 percent advantage over Democrat Mike Franken.
But Republicans believe they are closing in fast in important races including Pennsylvania, Arizona and New Hampshire. The shift in the national environment toward the GOP appears to be helping the party compensate for lackluster candidates in key states.
Whether it’s a Georgia Senate runoff, court challenges or delays in certification, it could still be days or weeks after Election Day until we know which party will control Congress next year. While Democrats may have avoided the worst-case scenario, Republicans could still have the good cycle that was expected before the Dobbs decision.
Here’s a summary of all the rating changes:
One Senate race shifts toward Democrats
- Iowa Senate (Charles E. Grassley, R), from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
13 House races shift toward Republicans
- California’s 13th District (Open; Josh Harder, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- Connecticut’s 5th District (Jahana Hayes, D), from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- New Jersey’s 7th District (Tom Malinowski, D), from Toss-up to Tilt Republican
- New York’s 3rd District (Open; Tom Suozzi, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- New York’s 4th District (Open; Kathleen Rice, D), from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- New York’s 17th District (Sean Patrick Maloney, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- New York’s 18th District (Pat Ryan, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- New York’s 19th District (Open; Pat Ryan, D), from Tilt Democratic to Toss-up
- Oregon’s 4th District (Open; Peter DeFazio, D), from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Oregon’s 6th District (Open; new), from Tilt Democratic to Toss-up
- Rhode Island’s 2nd District (Open; Jim Langevin, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- Texas’ 34th District (Mayra Flores, R; Vicente Gonzalez, D), from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic
- Virginia’s 10th District (Jennifer Wexton, D), from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic
8 House races shift toward Democrats
- Alaska’s At-Large District (Mary Peltola, D), Toss-up to Tilt Democratic
- Georgia’s 2nd District (Sanford Bishop, D), from Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic
- Iowa’s 2nd District (Ashley Hinson, R), from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican
- Maine’s 2nd District (Jared Golden, D), from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic
- Michigan’s 3rd District (Open; Peter Meijer, R), from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
- Michigan’s 8th District (Dan Kildee, D), from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
- North Carolina’s 1st District (Open; G.K. Butterfield, D), from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
- Washington’s 3rd District (Open; Jaime Herrera Beutler, R), from Likely Republican to Lean Republican
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.