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Democrats expand House map after election victories

Democrats expand House map after election victories
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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 RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE's (R-Wis.) and three held by longtime GOP incumbents who recently announced plans to leave Congress.

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Of those, retiring centrist Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentFlake cuts ad for Biden: 'Character' matters Republican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden Biden picks up endorsements from nearly 100 Republicans 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 RodgersConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Race heats up for top GOP post on powerful Energy and Commerce Committee Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video 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) LovePoll: McAdams neck and neck with GOP challenger in Utah Former NFL player Burgess Owens wins Utah GOP primary The Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights MORE (R-Utah); Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James Barletta10 bellwether counties that could signal where the election is headed Bottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs MORE (R-Pa.), who is running for Senate; Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Treasury withheld nearly M from FDNY 9/11 health program Trump holds private funeral service for brother Robert Trump at White House  MORE (R-N.Y.); Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthHillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump campaign tweet of Biden clip as manipulated media | Democrats demand in-person election security briefings resume | Proposed rules to protect power grid raise concerns Lawmakers call for bipartisan push to support scientific research The Hill's 12:30 Report: Presidential race tightens in key states MORE (R-Ind.); Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockHouse votes to condemn alleged hysterectomies on migrant women House to vote on removing cannabis from list of controlled substances House votes to remove Confederate statues from Capitol MORE (R-Calif.); and Rep. Glenn GrothmanGlenn S. GrothmanHopes and fears for religious freedom in Vietnam GOP lawmakers comply with Pelosi's mask mandate for House floor GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up 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 ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records 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.