As Republicans eye their largest House majority in a generation, their path to history runs through roughly 15 Democratic-held districts.
Buoyed by President Obama’s deep unpopularity, frustration with the economy and
ObamaCare, and with help from a GOP-friendly, gerrymandered map, the number of Republican wins could top double digits on election night.
The party needs to gain 11 seats in order to hit its “Drive to 245” goal for expanding its House majority. A handful of losses are possible, thanks mostly to weak GOP incumbents, and Republicans have been careful in the final days to downplay expectations.
Still, Democrats are preparing for mounting losses on Tuesday night. Here’s the most likely places where those could occur.
Utah’s 4th District (Open):
Former Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love is expected to become the first African-American Republican woman to serve in Congress. She lost to retiring Rep. Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonMcAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district Trump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot MORE (D-Utah) by just 768 votes in 2012 despite the GOP lean of the district but is now anticipated to easily pick up the open seat. Love was tapped by then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney to speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention and is viewed by many in her party as a rising star.
North Carolina’s 7th District (Open):
As with Matheson’s district, this seat seemed like a sure GOP takeover as soon as centrist Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) announced his retirement. Former state Sen. David Rouzer (R), who lost to McIntyre by just fewer than 700 votes in 2012, is now set to be the next congressman.
New York’s 21st District (Open):
The retirement of Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) gives the GOP its third likely pickup opportunity. Republican Elise Stefanik, 30, is poised to become the youngest member of Congress in either chamber and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. National Democrats have pulled money from this district and essentially ceded the district to Republicans.
West Virginia’s 3rd District:
Rep. Nick RahallNick Joe RahallA billion plan to clean the nation's water is murky on facts On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 We shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief MORE. Romney won this district with 65 percent of the vote in the 2012 race for the White House, which doesn’t make the 19-term incumbent’s reelection prospects any easier in a state where dissatisfaction with the president is high —especially due to his energy policies in this coal-rich district. If state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R) wins, though, it will likely be by a slim margin.
Illinois’s 12th District:
Rep. William Enyart. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has been a drag on this Democratic freshman down-ballot. His party tried early on to paint state Rep. Mike Bost(R) as “meltdown Mike” for his explosive speeches in Springfield that became YouTube sensations, but now even many Democrats expect the Republican will win.
California’s 7th District:
Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraOvernight Defense & National Security — Blinken heads to the hot seat Dozens of Sacramento students remain in Afghanistan after US pullout, district says Lobbying world MORE. This freshman Democrat’s reelection campaign has become the most expensive House race in the country this cycle: both sides have spent nearly $20 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politic, and outside groups have poured in about $13 million. Bera won the district by barely 2 percentage points in 2012 after a recount that lasted more than a week. The margin could be even slimmer this time because turnout is expected to be low statewide. Former Rep. Doug Ose (R) is banking on similar GOP turnout in 2010 in this perennial swing district.
California’s 52nd District:
Rep. Scott Peters. This race has proven to be one of the nastiest of the cycle. The GOP candidate, former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, is under fire for sexual harassment allegations from two former campaign staffers. DeMaio has blamed Peters’s campaign for the accusations, claiming they stemmed from discrimination over his sexual orientation. Still, the GOP nominee and the freshman Democrat are neck-and-neck in recent polling. If he wins, DeMaio could be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.
Florida’s 26th District:
Rep. Joe GarciaJoe Antonio GarciaFormer Florida congressman fined 6K in campaign finance scheme Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war Biden pays tribute to McCain at emotional memorial service MORE. National Republicans have run ads highlighting Garcia’s ethics issues, including that his former campaign manager pleaded guilty to absentee ballot fraud. But his GOP opponent, Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo, hasn’t generated ideal headlines for himself after he called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”
New Hampshire’s 1st District:
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Shea-Porter faces a rematch against former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.). After losing in 2010 to Guinta, she defeated him again 2012. But the nationwide drag from Obama could result in another reversal.
Minnesota’s 8th District:
Rep. Rick Nolan. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began to pour money into this district late into the campaign to help save Nolan, from GOP businessman Stewart Mills. Nolan served three terms, from 1975 to 1981, and returned in 2013 after a three-decade hiatus. But Mills, anointed “the Brad Pitt of the Republican Party,” has kept the race competitive. Green Party candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman could also cut into Nolan’s base of support and help Mills prevail.
Illinois’s 10th District:
Rep. Brad Schneider. Like Enyart, Schneider’s reelection prospects could be bogged down by the state’s governor. Schneider won this district only by about a percentage point in 2012 and faces a rematch against former Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) and the two are deadlocked in polls.
Arizona’s 1st District:
Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn Kirkpatrick Ariz. state senator who saved Gabby Giffords's life ends congressional bid due to COVID-19 surge Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms Democratic Rep. Ron Kind won't seek reelection in Wisconsin MORE. Kirkpatrick, who lost her seat in 2010 but won it back two years later, isn’t shying away from her vote for the healthcare law. Her opponent, state House Speaker Andy Tobin (R), and national Republicans have made ObamaCare a central issue of the campaign. Tobin hasn’t proven to be the best challenger, but he could still win.
Arizona’s 2nd District:
Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE. Barber and his GOP opponent, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, are locked in a rematch of their close 2012 race. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), for whom Barber previously worked as district director, has poured in more than $2 million into the race through her super-PAC advocating gun control, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
New York’s 1st District:
Rep. Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Dem candidate 'struck by the parallels' between Trump's rise and Hitler's Dems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary MORE. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been running ads against Bishop for an alleged breach of congressional ethics. A report two years ago stated that Bishop helped obtain environmental permits for a constituent who wanted to use fireworks at a party — but only after Bishop’s staff allegedly asked the constituent for a campaign contribution. Bishop’s district is a usual GOP target, but Republicans hope that the ethics investigation will finally bring down the 11-year incumbent.
Georgia’s 12th District:
Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Republican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of MORE. Despite perennial GOP attempts, Barrow — the only remaining white Democrat in the Deep South — has managed to win reelection each year thanks to his strong retail politicking skills and relatively centrist voting record. But Democrats, who still think Barrow can win, acknowledge the incumbent faces a particularly tough road to reelection this year because his district has been redrawn and he faces a strong opponent in GOP businessman Rick Allen.