Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House

Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House
The Democratic Party’s chances of recapturing the House of Representatives are increasingly centered on a relatively small number of states where an outsized number of battleground districts will decide who wields the Speaker’s gavel for the next two years.
 
Three weeks before Election Day, both parties and their supportive outside groups are spending tens of millions of dollars on clusters of House districts in states like Pennsylvania, where eight districts are in play, and California, where at least seven districts are competitive.
 
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Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have four competitive races each.
 
Democrats need to reclaim 23 seats to win control of the House of Representatives. Republican strategists concede that as many as a dozen seats they hold in states like Iowa, Arizona and Colorado are already likely to fall to Democrats.
 
That means Democrats would have to win fewer than half the 34 Republican-held swing seats in those seven cluster states in order to win back control of the House.
 
 
Most of the cluster states have so many competitive districts in part because of the types of voters who see their ballots as a chance to put a check on President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE’s agenda.
 
That has been a common theme in recent midterm elections, strategists said.
 
“In 2018, people are showing up to vote against Trump and his brand. In 2006, they were showing up to vote against [George W.] Bush, and in 2010, they were voting against [Barack] Obama,” said Mark Nevins, a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist.
 
“That’s the root of these wave elections, is something for people to be against.”
 
The California seats in play are all districts that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Pipeline paralysis: The left’s latest fossil fuel obstruction tactic Mueller could turn easy Trump answers into difficult situation MORE either won or came close to winning, in the Los Angeles area and the Central Valley.
 
Open seats being vacated by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaDemocratic gains erasing House GOP in California California New Members 2019 Dem Mike Levin wins Issa's open House seat in southern California MORE (R) and Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceDem Gil Cisneros scores win in open-seat race in California Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Democratic gains erasing House GOP in California MORE (R), as well as seats held by vulnerable incumbents Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamDemocratic gains erasing House GOP in California California New Members 2019 Election Countdown: Hyde-Smith's 'public hanging' joke shakes up Mississippi runoff | New lawsuits in Florida | Trump wants Florida election official fired | Mia Love sues to stop Utah vote count | Republican MacArthur loses NJ House race MORE (R), Mimi Walters (R) and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherDemocratic gains erasing House GOP in California California New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE (R), are all near the top of Democratic target lists.
 
In Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia, the seats about which Democrats are most excited are all in suburban areas.
 
 
“There’s not a lot of connective tissue, until you get to the suburbs,” said Guy Harrison, a GOP strategist who ran the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2010.
 
Pennsylvania is a different story. The state Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that the congressional district lines were unconstitutional, and its newly drawn district lines have scrambled the Commonwealth’s political calculus, handing Democrats a chance to make big gains in the Philadelphia suburbs and exurbs.
 
Democrats will almost certainly give back a seat in exurban Pittsburgh, but the incumbent in that district, Rep. Conor Lamb (D), is favored over Rep. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusPennsylvania New Members 2019 Pennsylvania Dem: Trump has proven he's 'interested in negotiating' Trump rips pundits for not giving him ‘proper credit’ for ‘great’ midterm MORE (R) in a neighboring district.
 
Several of those states also benefit Democrats because of top-of-the-ticket races that are uncompetitive. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) trails his Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker (D) by a wide margin.
 
In California, a barely competitive governor’s race and a Senate race featuring two Democrats will likely depress GOP turnout. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Midterms: The winners and losers MORE Jr. (D) are cruising toward reelection.
 
“Some of these districts, we’re actually having a problem not because of Trump, but it’s because of these governor’s races,” Harrison said.
 
The top-of-the-ticket factor is a big concern for Republicans in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is sailing toward reelection against little-funded Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R).
 
House Democrats are targeting four Republican incumbents in Upstate New York, all of whom would likely be safer if the Republican gubernatorial contender were more competitive.
 
The concentration of so many swing districts in so few states is different from the last two wave elections, when Democrats won back the House in 2006 and when Republicans reclaimed control in 2010.
 
Twelve years ago, Democrats stormed to a majority by winning seats in 18 states across the country. Their biggest gains came in Pennsylvania, where they gained four seats, and in Indiana and New York, where they netted three Republican-held seats.
 
In the first midterm of Obama’s presidency, Republicans picked up a whopping 63 House seats across a much broader swath of states than that which Democrats are competing for today.
 
The GOP’s biggest gains came in Florida, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all states in which the party won at least four seats.
 
The different maps where Democrats and Republicans found success in the past — and in which Democrats need to succeed this year — are a reflection of the political realignment taking place within the United States over the last several decades.
 
In 2006, Democrats captured a large number of suburban and exurban districts, as well as rural seats in the increasingly liberal Northeast. In 2010, a huge number of rural Democrats lost their districts to Republicans.
 
Now, the suburban seats in play reflect voters who didn’t cast ballots for President Trump considering taking out their anger on the rest of his party.
 
 
“You’re looking at the states that tend to have a lot of congressional districts and larger populations, and therefore more opportunities to pick up seats,” Nevins said. “You fish where the fish are.”