Election forecaster shifts rating in favor of top GOP lawmaker

Election forecaster shifts rating in favor of top GOP lawmaker
© Greg Nash

Sabato's Crystal Ball shifted the Washington district held by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker Conservatives blame McCarthy for Twitter getting before favorable committee MORE (R) from toss-up back to "leaning Republican" on Thursday.

The election forecaster's managing editor Kyle Kondik wrote in a blog post that analysts had been too "hasty" in shifting the district to toss-up earlier this month, noting that a final vote tally of the early August primary showed the Republican vote share nearly 10 points higher than the Democratic share.

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"We noted at the time that Republicans said the numbers should improve for McMorris Rodgers and that, if they did, we would revisit. Well, they did, and we are," Kondik said in the post.

"McMorris Rodgers also has more cash on hand than [Democratic challenger Lisa] Brown, and outside Republican groups will prioritize McMorris Rodgers if she is indeed in trouble because she’s in leadership," he added.

"This is not to say Brown can’t win, but we were hasty in making this a Toss-up. We’re moving it back to Leans Republican."

A spokesperson for McMorris Rodgers's campaign said in an email that forecasters had acted "hastily" in previously moving the district in favor of Democrats.

“We warned DC pundits not to hastily prognosticate because even two weeks ago it was clear former State Senator Lisa Brown’s liberal record had reached its ceiling in Eastern Washington," the spokesperson wrote.

Brown's campaign did not immediately respond to an emailed request for a statement from The Hill.

The House GOP conference chair has held Washington's 5th District since 2005 and won it by nearly 20 points in 2016. The district did once voted to oust a sitting Speaker, Rep. Tom Foley (D-Wash.), in 1994.

Democrats are hoping to overcome a 23-seat gap in the House to retake control of the lower chamber this fall. A recent Monmouth University poll showed Democrats' advantage over the GOP on a generic House ballot slipping to 5 percentage points in August after the party previously enjoyed a double-digit lead over Republicans in the poll.