Election analyst moves four House seats toward GOP

Election analyst moves four House seats toward GOP
© Getty Images
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted four House seats in favor of Republicans on Tuesday, including one seat where the Democratic candidate is refusing to withdraw despite revelations that he beat his wife decades ago. 
Cook's new ratings move South Carolina's 5th Congressional District race from "likely Republican" to "solid Republican" after a Monday night report in The Post and Courier revealed Democratic front-runner Archie Parnell beat his wife while in college. 
Parnell apologized for "inexcusable" actions, but has so far bucked calls from the state Democratic Party and other top Democrats to withdraw. He'll still remain on the ballot even if he withdraws, but if he does so before the June 12 primary, votes for him will not count toward picking the nominee. If he wins the primary and subsequently withdraws, the party will not have a candidate. 
The 5th District had always been a reach for Democrats — it's a district President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE won by 18 percentage points in 2016, but where Parnell lost by just 3 points to now-Rep. Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanKavanaugh fight roils an already ugly political climate GOP lawmaker tells people to ‘lighten up’ over joke about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped GOP lawmaker mocks Kavanaugh accusation, jokes that Ruth Bader Ginsburg claimed she was groped by Lincoln MORE (R) in a 2017 special election. Democrats had hoped Parnell would be able to make the race competitive again, but that appears unlikely without the backing of his own party. 
Cook is also improving the GOP's ratings in three other seats — California's 39th and 49th districts and Nebraska's 2nd District. 
The California seats are notable because it's possible that no Democrat will make the general election ballot there — California runs all candidates, regardless of party, in a primary, with the top two candidates move on to a general election. So there's concern among Democrats that crowded and heated primaries could divide the vote and possibly allow two Republicans to make a general election. 
California's 39th, where a crowded field is running to replace retiring Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Overnight Defense: Congress reaches deal preventing shutdown | Pentagon poised to be funded on time for first time in years | House GOP rejects effort to get Putin summit documents MORE (R), is home to a brutal matchup between Democrats. The two top candidates, Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn, have spent the past few months trading accusations and opposition research in the hopes of torpedoing the other's campaign. 
The tensions grew to the point that last week the state Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brokered a nonaggression pact between the two candidates. 
There are four competitive Democrats there: Doug Applegate, Issa's 2016 opponent who came just shy of knocking him off that year; Sara Jacobs, who worked at the State Department under President Obama; Paul Kerr, a Navy veteran and businessman; and Mike Levin, an environmental attorney. 
GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chávez is the clear GOP front-runner in the district, with a handful of other Republicans splitting the party's share of the vote. 
Since both fields are crowded, a shutout for either party is possible.
And in Nebraska, Cook moved the rating for the 2nd District in the GOP's favor after former Rep. Brad AshfordJohn (Brad) Bradley AshfordWhite men now the minority in pool of House Democratic candidates: analysis Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Ex-Dem lawmaker: Russians hacked my email in 2016 MORE (D) lost his primary to progressive nonprofit executive Kara Eastman. National Democrats had been behind Ashford because they felt his previous experience and moderate record would give the party the best shot of defeating Rep. Don Bacon (R). 
But Eastman upset him in the party's May 15 primary. While some Democrats are concerned she's too liberal for the district, Eastman is confident that her progressive platform will motivate the base and resonate with other voters as well.