ANALYSIS — With a new Republican House majority firmly within reach, three key states will measure just how big a GOP wave might be.
Republicans don’t need to sweep the competitive races in Oregon, Nevada and New York, but they could gain up to 10 seats in the trio of states alone, which is double the five-seat gain the GOP needs to take control of the House.
Republicans haven’t had more than one member of the House delegation since Jim Bunn was elected for a single term as part of the GOP wave in 1994. After these midterm elections, up to two-thirds of the six-member delegation could be Republicans, depending on how well things go.
GOP Rep. Cliff Bentz will win reelection in the 2nd District — but the key question is how many more Republicans will join him.
The easiest addition is the 5th District, where Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader lost in the primary. That didn’t guarantee Democrats would lose the seat, considering Joe Biden would have won the district with 53 percent in 2020. But crime and homelessness in Portland have dominated the political conversation in the Beaver State, which has been controlled by Democrats the last couple of decades. Democratic nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who ran to the left of Schrader, hasn’t been able to pull ahead, and former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer is poised to pull this seat into the GOP column. The race is rated a Toss-up.
Republicans are also bullish about the 6th District, which contains part of Schrader’s old territory but doesn’t have an incumbent because Oregon gained a seat during reapportionment. Biden would have won the mid-Willamette Valley district with 55 percent, and GOP businessman Mike Erickson has more than his share of baggage, but he’s running even or ahead of Democratic state Sen. Andrea Salinas. The race is rated a Toss-up.
Democrats feel better about the 4th District, where Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio is not running for reelection. But Republican Alek Skarlatos has been closing fast against Democrat Val Hoyle in a race rated Lean Democratic. A win in Southern Oregon could be the icing on the cake for the GOP on a great night, which could also include electing a governor for the first time in 40 years. Four Republican House members would be Oregon’s most since the 1950s.
Democratic fears of a dummymander in the Silver State could be coming to fruition. The party’s efforts to take some Democratic voters from a solidly Democratic seat to shore up other marginal districts could result in a GOP sweep of the delegation.
Rep. Susie Lee has been the most vulnerable Democratic member of the delegation since the lines were finalized. Her race against GOP attorney April Becker in the 3rd District is rated Tilt Democratic. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus assumed correctly that the new lines could also jeopardize her reelection. Her race is rated Tilt Democratic as well, as financial planner Mark Robertson has a chance to put the 1st District seat in the GOP column.
The 4th District, which Biden would have won with 53 percent and is represented by Rep. Steven Horsford, is rated Lean Democratic. Republicans have not invested in this race the way they’ve targeted the 1st and 3rd Districts, but it’s not hard to see insurance agency owner Sam Peters winning in a great Republican cycle.
A clean sweep of the competitive races combined with GOP Rep. Mark Amodei’s reelection in the 2nd District would give Republicans control of all four House seats for the first time. The last time they had complete control of the House delegation was in the late 1990s, when Nevada had only two congressional seats.
It’s been whiplash for Democrats in the Empire State. They thought they had a map in place that would give them an additional three seats. But that map was thrown out by the courts, and now Democrats are at risk of losing a handful of seats under the new lines.
While Democratic prospects didn’t look terrible immediately after the new map was drawn, or even over the course of the summer, GOP prospects have improved substantially over the past couple of months.
The first sign of trouble for Democrats should have been the 22nd District. GOP Rep. John Katko’s retirement was supposed to be the open door Democrats have been waiting for to flip this seat. But with just days to go, the race is no better than a Toss-up for Democrats, and it’ll be one of the first key races they’d likely lose on election night.
Another Toss-up race is New York’s 19th District, which Biden would have won with just 51 percent. Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan won the special election under the old congressional lines but is running for a full term in the 18th District, leaving the new 19th open. It could be vindication for Republican Marc Molinaro, who lost to Ryan in the special.
Then there are a handful of other Democratic seats that could fall into GOP hands depending on the size of the GOP wave. Biden would have won the 3rd District (which is open because of Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi’s run for governor), the 17th District (represented by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney) and the 18th District (where Ryan is running) with at least 53 percent, but all are rated Tilt Democratic and only look to be getting better for Republicans.
The 4th District, where Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice is not running for reelection, is also vulnerable even though Biden would have won it with 57 percent in 2020.
If Republicans win all six of the races where they are favored and sweep the remaining six competitive races, they’d have a dozen House members, their highest number in 20 years.
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.