Democrats poised for House gains with boost from Trump-won districts

Most of the 30 Democrats representing swing districts that President TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE carried in 2016 are favored to win reelection, marking the latest sign that the party is likely to expand its House majority.

It's a change of fortunes from late last year, when those same Democrats faced a tough decision on whether to impeach Trump and risk alienating split-ticket voters.

But since then, Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed on Republicans down the ballot and allowed Democrats to expand their map of targets for Election Day.


That forced Republicans to divert resources and play defense in what had once been GOP strongholds, while Democrats are positioned to run up the score.

“It's difficult to overstate just how much the map shifted as the environment deteriorated,” a senior House Republican strategist said.

Only eight of the 30 districts held by Democrats where Trump won four years ago are considered "toss-ups" by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, while others are considered leaning or likely going toward Democrats.

Among the most vulnerable Democrats are Reps. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonSix ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (Minn.), the House Agriculture Committee chairman who’s managed to hang on to his seat since 1991 despite Trump winning his district by 30 points, and several first-term lawmakers who flipped GOP seats in 2018: Reps. Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerGOP hammers Democrats over Iowa Democrat's election challenge Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters MORE (Iowa), Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (Okla.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Max RoseMax RoseOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (N.Y.) and Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.).

An open seat vacated by retiring Rep. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackPelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results Iowa Democrat who lost by six votes will appeal to House Iowa officials certify Republican Miller-Meeks's 6-vote victory MORE (D-Iowa) is also considered highly competitive.

But other Democrats who flipped districts in 2018 that Trump carried are on much stronger footing compared with just two years ago.


The districts represented by Virginia Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerGun control advocates applaud Biden funding plan but say more must be done Trump the X-factor in Virginia governor race Bipartisan House bill would repeal decades-old war authorizations MORE (D) and Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaLauren Underwood endorses Jennifer Carroll Foy in Virginia governors race Northam backing McAuliffe in Virginia governor's race The US urgently needs a maritime-focused national defense strategy MORE (D), for instance, are both considered in the Cook ratings as leaning Democratic, as are the ones held by Reps. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamLobbying world We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win MORE (D-S.C.), Cindy AxneCindy AxneRepublicans take victory lap after Iowa Democrat drops challenge GOP hammers Democrats over Iowa Democrat's election challenge Democrats urge IRS to help unemployment recipients use tax break MORE (D-Iowa), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats move smaller immigration bills while eyeing broad overhaul On The Money: Biden celebrates relief bill with Democratic leaders | Democrats debate fast-track for infrastructure package Democrats debate fast-track for infrastructure package MORE (D-Mich.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.).

Other races, meanwhile, such as in the districts held by Reps. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathSix ways to visualize a divided America Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump MORE (D-Ga.), Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodLauren Underwood endorses Jennifer Carroll Foy in Virginia governors race In America, women are frontliners of change New cyber panel chair zeros in on election security, SolarWinds hack MORE (D-Ill.), Jared Golden (Maine) and Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoCuomo job approval drops 6 points amid nursing home controversy: poll Cuomo takes heat from all sides on nursing home scandal We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (N.Y.), are considered "likely" Democratic.

One factor making it easier for front-line House Democrats is their vast cash advantage over their Republican challengers.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has outraised its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, by $60 million this cycle. And many House Democratic incumbents are raising eye-popping sums compared with the Republicans looking to unseat them.

Brindisi, for example, has raised around $5 million, while his Republican opponent, Claudia Tenney, has brought in just $2 million in an upstate New York district where Trump won by 15 points.

And in Oklahoma’s 5th District, where Trump won by 13 points, Horn has raised about $5 million to Republican challenger Stephanie Bice’s $3 million.

Democrats in those swing districts won in 2018 by focusing on health care after Republicans failed to pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when they controlled both chambers of Congress, despite repeatedly pledging and campaigning over the years to repeal the 2010 law also known as ObamaCare.

Health care remains front and center this time around in a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of 229,000 people in the U.S. and with the Supreme Court expected to hear oral arguments next week in a Republican-led case that aims to overturn the ACA in its entirety.

“House Democrats flipped Trump districts by promising to protect Americans’ health care. They’ll keep those seats because they followed through on that promise,” DCCC spokesperson Robyn Patterson said. “Our most vulnerable members built strong local brands, raised record amounts of money, and are out performing the national environment because of their work to protect their constituents’ health care during a deadly pandemic.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic at the top of voters’ minds, especially as the U.S. hits record highs for new cases, the House votes to impeach Trump nearly a year ago are a distant memory despite the heartburn it gave vulnerable Democrats at the time.

Peterson was the only Democrat to vote against both articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power in his dealings with the Ukrainian government and obstruction of Congress for refusing to cooperate in the investigation. The Minnesota lawmaker declared at the time that the process was a “mistake” and pledged that “I will not be whipped in line by my party.”

Golden voted in favor of the article of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power but opposed the second article alleging that the president obstructed Congress.


Peterson remains in a tight race against former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach (R), but Golden is favored to win reelection.

House Democratic leaders are openly predicting they will pick up seats on Election Day, with estimates ranging from a five to 15 net gain.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Pence pleaded with military officials to 'clear the Capitol' on Jan. 6: AP Democrats see political winner in tax fight MORE (D-Calif.) said during a Friday interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that she thinks Democrats will “increase our numbers” and dismissed Trump’s prediction that Republicans could take back the House as “so delusional.”

The House GOP strategist similarly predicted that Democrats will have a net gain in seats.

“Our hope is to keep it in the single digits,” the strategist said. “If it's a good night, then it may be basically a minimal net gain for Democrats.”