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Rating changes: 10 races shift, with House control in play

Seven shifts toward Democrats as three key races move toward GOP

Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert's race in 2024 is now rated Tilt Republican, a shift toward the Democrats from Lean Republican.
Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert's race in 2024 is now rated Tilt Republican, a shift toward the Democrats from Lean Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From navigating a potential government shutdown to beginning an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, the House of Representatives will have some time in the spotlight over the next few weeks. The stakes are high, considering the House majority is in play next year. 

Democrats need a net gain of five seats to regain the majority they lost in 2022. That means even a minor shift in voter sentiment or movement at the top of the ballot in the presidential race will have an effect on House races. 

With a little more than 13 months before Election Day, the battleground map currently encompasses 68 competitive House races. That includes all races rated by Inside Elections as Toss-up, Tilt, Lean or Likely Republican and Tilt, Lean, or Likely Democratic. There are 182 races rated as Solid Republican and 171 races rated as Solid Democratic, which means the party that does not hold the seat has a very small chance of winning it next November and is not focused on winning the seat when trying to obtain or retain the majority. 

Right now, both parties need to win at least some of the 11 Toss-up races to get over the majority threshold. Republicans would have 208 seats if they win all the districts where they have a rating advantage, while Democrats would have 202 if they did the same.

Republicans could come close to 218, and thus a majority, without Toss-up races if they get what they want in North Carolina redistricting. The 14 races in the Tar Heel State don’t have a rating yet, pending a new, Republican-drawn map that’s likely to come this fall. But the GOP is counting on a three-seat gain under new lines, which would likely jeopardize Democratic Reps. Jeff Jackson, Wiley Nickel and Kathy Manning. That would give Republicans an advantage of 10 seats to the Democrats’ four in the North Carolina delegation. 

But Democrats are likely to gain a seat in Alabama after the Supreme Court told the state to draw another district where Black voters are in the majority or close to it. That would take a Solid Republican seat and turn it into a Solid Democratic seat. Redistricting developments in New York could also boost Democratic prospects. 

While unique circumstances have led to incremental changes in a handful of races, the presidential race casts a large shadow in districts that will not be redrawn because there’s a strong correlation between the presidential and House results. That means it’s important that the presidential contest stays competitive for each party to stay competitive in the fight for the House. Even strong candidates can only outperform the top of the ticket by a handful of points. 

If one presidential nominee’s support collapses, he’ll likely pull down his party’s chances of winning the House majority as well.

Rating changes

Inside Elections moved one race (New Jersey’s 7th District) out of Toss-up to Tilt Republican. Joe Biden won the suburban and exurban New York City district with only 51 percent in 2020. Although Democrats like to complain about GOP Rep. Thomas H. Kean Jr. not being available to the media, a top-tier Democratic challenger hasn’t emerged, and it’s clear the congressman has at least a small advantage. 

Inside Elections moved two other races toward Republicans. 

Now that it looks like Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger will not seek reelection in 2024 in order to focus on running for governor in 2025, Virginia’s 7th District is more ripe for a Republican takeover. Biden won it with 52 percent in 2020, but Republican Glenn Youngkin won it in the 2021 gubernatorial race. Democrats have a bench in the exurban Washington, D.C., district, but Spanberger will be hard to replace. Inside Elections moved the race to Tilt Democratic from Lean Democratic. There will be more movement among candidates in the congressional race after this year’s legislative elections in the commonwealth. 

Oregon’s 4th District is the newest addition to the House battleground with a rating of Likely Democratic from Solid Democratic. Democratic Rep. Val Hoyle has faced a flurry of negative headlines stemming from her time as commissioner of the state’s Bureau of Labor & Industries. Biden won the southern Willamette Valley and southern coastal district with 55 percent in 2020. Democrats are hoping to bounce back across the state in a presidential year after a subpar midterm election, and Republicans don’t have a challenger yet, but this seat is more vulnerable than it should be. 

Inside Elections moved seven races toward Democrats.

Two Republicans, Lauren Boebert of Colorado’s 3rd and Ryan Zinke of Montana’s 1st, are making their seats more vulnerable than they should be. In 2020, President Donald Trump won them with 53 percent and 52 percent, respectively, but both incumbents won close races in 2022 and look poised to underperform the top of the ticket again. Both races shifted from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican, and that was before the full details came to light about Boebert’s removal from a Denver theater for inappropriate behavior during a performance of “Beetlejuice.” 

GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks also won one of the closest races of 2022. Now Democrats have a credible challenger, former state Rep. Christina Bohannan, in a southeastern Iowa district that Trump won with only 50 percent in 2020. The race in Iowa’s 1st District shifted from Likely Republican to Lean Republican. 

Democratic Reps. Kim Schrier of Washington’s 8th District and Dina Titus of Nevada’s 1st District are in a stronger position, as those races move from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic. Their seats are competitive on paper, but Republicans aren’t focusing on them, unless Titus chooses not to run for reelection.

Two races moved from Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic and thus aren’t considered part of the current House battleground. 

Democrat Jared Moskowitz was elected with just 52 percent in 2020 against an underfunded opponent in Florida’s 23rd District, causing speculation that he could be in trouble this cycle. But the top of the ticket should be better for Democrats (considering Biden won the Fort Lauderdale-area seat with 56 percent in 2020), and Republicans aren’t focused on the race. 

Biden received only 53 percent in Texas’ 28th District in 2020, but Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar isn’t in significant danger. The seat was potentially vulnerable last cycle when it looked like the congressman could lose a primary to a more liberal opponent, but Cuellar narrowly won his primary and went on to defeat his Republican opponent by 13 points. No serious primary threat has emerged this cycle, and Republicans aren’t focused on mounting a serious challenge.  

Changes toward Republicans

  • New Jersey’s 7th (Thomas H. Kean Jr., R) Toss-up to Tilt Republican
  • Oregon’s 4th (Val Hoyle, D) Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic
  • Virginia’s 7th (Abigail Spanberger, D) Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic 

Changes toward Democrats

  • Colorado’s 3rd (Lauren Boebert, R) Lean Republican to Tilt Republican
  • Florida’s 23rd (Jared Moskowitz, D) Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic
  • Iowa’s 1st (Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R) Likely Republican to Lean Republican
  • Montana’s 1st (Ryan Zinke, R) Likely Republican to Lean Republican
  • Nevada’s 1st (Dina Titus, D) Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
  • Texas’ 28th (Henry Cuellar, D) Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic
  • Washington’s 8th (Kim Schrier, D) Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

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