FEATURED:

Democrats expand House map after election victories

Democrats expand House map after election victories
© Getty Images

House Democrats, bullish on their prospects in 2018 after election victories across the nation, are expanding the number of GOP-held districts they plan to target in their effort to win back the chamber.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday released a list of 91 total House districts it plans to target in next year’s midterm elections. Democrats need to win 24 seats to win back the House.

That list includes 11 new districts, including Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE's (R-Wis.) and three held by longtime GOP incumbents who recently announced plans to leave Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of those, retiring centrist Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentPennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map Outgoing GOP rep: Republican Party 'heading into trouble' in election Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE’s (R-Pa.) eastern Pennsylvania swing district will likely be the most competitive. Dent was considered a particularly skilled incumbent who would be tough to beat, but an open seat will make it up for grabs next year.

The DCCC is also expanding its map for far-reaching districts that would be tough to flip even in a tidal wave for Democrats, like the ones held by Ryan and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight Health Care: GOP chair blasts DEA over opioid enforcement | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Patient groups oppose 'right to try' drug bill Overnight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill House passes bill to ease menu labeling rules under ObamaCare MORE (R-Wash.).

Other newly-added districts include those held by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who are both not seeking reelection; Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveBlack Dems take lead in push to impeach Trump Airbnb ad: 'Let's open doors, not build walls' Haitians protest Trump outside Trump Tower MORE (R-Utah); Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James Barletta10 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in Trump country Trump throws support behind Barletta in Pa. Senate race GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (R-Pa.), who is running for Senate; Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingLawmakers call for withdrawal of Trump proposal that could impact 9/11 responders' health care GOP reps demand release of 'shocking' surveillance memo Top Intel Dem: Lewandowski refused to answer questions in testimony MORE (R-N.Y.); Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthAmericans need access to small loans for their financial security Democrats expand House map after election victories MORE (R-Ind.); Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockSeven of the most politically active celebrities in Trump era House GOP chairman votes against tax bill House passes final tax bill, edging GOP closer to win MORE (R-Calif.); and Rep. Glenn GrothmanGlenn S. GrothmanDemocrats expand House map after election victories GOP lawmaker looks to block EPA ozone rule Controversial state senator wins GOP nod MORE (R-Wis.).

“The DCCC has successfully built the largest battlefield in over a decade, with strong campaigns ready to win tough races across the map in 2018,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) wrote in a memo.

The memo cites the number of House GOP retirements as a sign of momentum for Democratic challengers in newly open seats.

Fourteen House members have announced their plans to retire this year, which is still below the historical average of 22 per election cycle. All but two of the 14 retiring lawmakers are Republicans.

Tiberi plans to leave the House by the end of January to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable, while former House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTrump, GOP at new crossroads on deficit Chaffetz: Spending vote means GOP 'lost every single bit of credibility' on debt Let’s not fail in our second chance to protect Bears Ears MORE (R-Utah) resigned earlier this year to take a position at Fox News.

Seventeen other lawmakers, roughly split between the two parties, are running for other offices. 

“In general, eliminating the power of incumbency creates a great deal of advantage for House Democratic challengers,” Luján wrote.

The DCCC had initially outlined 80 battlefield districts, which Luján said now have “viable candidates” in all but five of them.

The widespread Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington state and elsewhere on Tuesday night have given momentum to a party left deep in the minority after President Trump’s unexpected win in 2016.

Polls leading up to Tuesday’s elections had suggested the race for Virginia governor would be competitive, with Democrat Ralph Northam holding a narrow lead. But Northam ultimately defeated Republican Ed Gillespie, who had echoed Trump’s culture war appeals in his campaign ads, by 9 points due to a surge in Democratic turnout.

Virginia Democrats are also unexpectedly close to winning control of the House of Delegates, with some races still not yet called.

Recent polls have shown Democrats with a significant advantage in the generic ballot asking voters which party should control the House.

Trump’s job approval also remains anemic at around 38 percent, according to recent polls. Presidents have historically seen their party lose seats in Congress during midterm elections in their first terms.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday compared Trump’s low approval rating to that of former President George W. Bush before Democrats won the House in 2006.

“That means we get the fresh recruits and they get the retirements. We get the A-Team,” Pelosi said at a press conference.