Cook Political Report shifts 11 House races towards Democrats

Cook Political Report shifts 11 House races towards Democrats
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Cook Political Report, a top nonpartisan election handicapper, released new ratings changes on Friday for 12 House districts, with all but one shifting in favor of Democrats a year ahead of the 2018 midterms.

The newsletter highlighted that President Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress have generated a candidate boom for House Democrats, noting that many of them are political newcomers — a class that recalls the GOP’s candidates during the 2010 cycle.

Some of the most notable ratings changes include the shift of three House districts — GOP Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Rod Blum (Iowa) — from Lean Republican to toss-up.

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McSally, who was elected to Congress in 2014 and easily defeated her Democratic opponent last cycle, is seen as vulnerable due to her vote for the House GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill earlier this year, according to the handicappers. McSally represents a district that went for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE by 5 points in 2016 and could likely face former Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickGold Star father attacked by Trump steps up role in Dem primaries House Dems highlight promising new candidates Vulnerable House incumbents build up war chests MORE if she wins the Democratic primary.

In California, Rohrabacher has been in Congress for nearly three decades, but The Cook Political Report pointed to his pro-Russia stance and his district’s shifting demographics as potentially tough obstacles for him next year. A crowded Democratic field is also shaping up to unseat him, and Clinton won the district by about 2 points.

Meanwhile, in Iowa, Blum has always been a top target for House Democrats, but President Trump was able to carry his district by 3 points. But the handicappers noted the district's left-leaning nature and also highlighted his potential Democratic opponent, state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who is 28 and would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Other notable changes are the shift from Likely Republican to Lean Republican in Rep. Mike Bishop’s (R-Mich.) seat and Rep. Pat Meehan’s (R-Penn.) seat. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’s (R-Kan.) open seat was also moved to Lean Republican.

While these seats are still considered safer seats for Republicans to hold, a handful of others became slightly more favorable for Democrats including the districts of GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Mia Love (Utah), Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrHouse GOP super PAC expands field offices to 27 districts Seven primary races to watch in 2018 Lexington mayor launches bid for Congress MORE (Ky.), Dave Brat (Va.) and Dan Donovan (N.Y.).

Only one ratings change favored Republicans: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) open seat. The newsletter shifted it from Solid Democrat to Likely Democrat. Cinema is giving up the seat to run against vulnerable GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House Flake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense MORE next year.

The ratings changes are good news for Democrats who will need to win 24 seats next year in order to take back control of the House, a tall order even if the political environment proves favorable.