Skip to content

Baseline metric offers Democrats hope for retaking the House

Data from past elections shows Democratic edge in 11 of 12 Toss-up races

Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, R-N.Y., is seeking reelection in a district where the typical Democrat has a nearly 12-point edge according to Inside Elections' Baseline metric.
Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, R-N.Y., is seeking reelection in a district where the typical Democrat has a nearly 12-point edge according to Inside Elections' Baseline metric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While Democrats look like initial underdogs to win back the House majority, the battle for control is taking place in favorable territory for them, according to Inside Elections’ Baseline metric.

Gaining a handful of seats out of 435 might not seem like a lot, but a district-by-district look at the races shows Republicans with an initial edge. Adding up all the seats where Inside Elections rates Republicans with the advantage (seats rated as Solid, Likely, Lean, or Tilt Republican) gets the GOP to 217 seats — just one short of a majority. If they win all the seats where they have an advantage, Republicans would need to win just one of the dozen Toss-up races. 

On the other side of the ledger, Democrats have the advantage in 206 races, according to Inside Elections. So Democrats would need to win all 12 of the Toss-ups in order to secure a majority. But there’s some good news for Democrats.

While incumbents can be difficult to defeat, and Republicans already represent seven of the districts with races rated as a Toss-up, Inside Elections’ Baseline shows Democrats have the advantage in 11 of these 12 seats.

Inside Elections’ Baseline captures a congressional district’s political performance by combining all federal and state election results over the past four election cycles into a single score. This index aims to approximate what share of the vote a “typical” Democrat or Republican might receive in any given district.

New York Republicans Anthony D’Esposito and Mike Lawler are two of the most vulnerable House incumbents in the country. Even though they won in 2022, a typical Republican would lose their districts. Democrats have a 55 percent to 44 percent advantage in 4th District (D’Esposito) and a 54 percent to 44 percent edge in the 17th (Lawler). 

A typical Democrat also has the advantage in five more Toss-up districts represented by a Republican, including a 5-point edge in New York’s 22nd District (Brandon Williams) and a nearly 6-point edge in New York’s 3rd District (now vacant following the expulsion of George Santos). Democrats have a 4-point advantage in California’s 27th District (Mike Garcia), a 2-point edge in Oregon’s 5th (Lori Chavez-DeRemer) and a 1-point advantage in California’s 13th (John Duarte).  

Democrats also have the advantage in four Toss-up seats currently represented by Democrats, including a 6-point edge in New Mexico’s 2nd District (Gabe Vasquez), a 3-point advantage in North Carolina’s newly drawn 1st District (Don Davis), a 2-point edge in Colorado’s 8th District (Yadira Caraveo) and a 5-point edge in Michigan’s 7th District (which Elissa Slotkin is leaving behind to run for the Senate). 

The only Toss-up race in a district where Republicans have a Baseline advantage is in Washington’s 3rd District, represented by Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. A typical GOP candidate has a 54 percent to 46 percent advantage, but Republicans rallying behind Joe Kent in 2022 helped shift former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s seat into the Democratic column. 

That’s a good example of why election analysis is not strictly a function of a formula. Many of the most evenly-divided districts, according to Baseline, aren’t currently rated as Toss-ups because of unique race circumstances, including the strength of the incumbent or the challenger. Ohio Democrat Emilia Sykes and Republicans Zach Nunn of Iowa and Don Bacon of Nebraska all represent districts with a Baseline Democratic advantage of 0.3 percent, and yet their races are rated Tilt Democratic, Tilt Republican and Lean Republican, respectively. 

Inside Elections’ current ratings assume there’s a competitive presidential race at the top of the ballot. That’s a critical factor due to the high correlation between presidential and House results. In 2020, voters in 96 percent of House districts (419 of 435) chose candidates from the same party for president and the House. 

As long as the presidential race is close, the fight for the House will be a close, district-by-district slog. But if one presidential nominee collapses, politically or physically, that will likely have a dramatic impact on the fight for the House.

Recent Stories

Security fence to go up at Capitol for State of the Union

California has no shortage of key House races on Tuesday

Alabama, Arkansas races to watch on Super Tuesday

Over the Hill — Congressional Hits and Misses

House GOP reverses course on Jan. 6 footage, will no longer blur faces

Three questions North Carolina primaries may answer