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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Election Handicapper Shifts Five U.S. House Races Toward Democrats

In an update to its race rankings issued Thursday, the Cook Political Report took some more wind out of GOP sails hoping to ride something of a red wave to majorities in November’s midterms. 

In five House races, Cook moved the needle in Democrats’ direction citing “a post-Dobbs spike in Democratic voter enthusiasm” despite the fact that polls immediately following the Dobbs decision showed it not moving the needle for voters while inflation and economic woes remain Americans’ greatest concern. 

So, here’s what Cook changed in its ratings this week:

New York – Third Congressional District

In the contest for an open seat vacated by Democrat Tom Suozzi, Republican George Santos will face Democrat Rob Zimmerman in a race that was just switched from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”

Virginia – Seventh Congressional District

Cook shifted this race from a “toss up” to “lean Democrat” where incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger faces GOP challenger Yesli Vega.

Arizona – Fourth Congressional District

The rating for this district Biden carried by ten points in 2020 has moved from “lean Democrat” to “likely Democrat” where incumbent Rep. Greg Stanton faces Kari Lake-endorsed restaurant owner Kelly Cooper. 

Maryland – Sixth Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat David Trone will seek to fend off GOP challenger Neil Parrott, a state delegate, in a race that has been updated from “lean Democrat” to “likely Democrat.”

Alaska – At-Large District

After Alaska’s special general ranked-choice election for its at-large House district put a Democrat in the seat for the first time since 1973, Cook shifted November’s general election rating from “likely Republican” to “toss up.” 

Even with Thursday’s update, Cook’s analysis shows that Republicans are expected to take the House majority and retire Nancy Pelosi’s gavel in the new Congress beginning in 2023 with pickups of between 10 and 20 House seats. That estimation is down from Cook’s previous ranking that predicted the GOP would take between 15 and 30 seats. 

As Cook’s analysis has explained, what looked like a “category five hurricane” heading for Biden and Pelosi’s slim majority in the House of Representatives had shown signs of weakening “to a tropical depression” as primaries wrapped up and focus turns to November’s general election. The field of play has shifted, according to Cook, giving Dems a “plausible, if still unlikely, scenario to stave off a Republican majority.”

But that shift happened in just about three months, roughly the same amount of time left before November’s midterms — and that means there’s a lot that can unravel in that time period. Worsening economic news, another foreign entanglement botched by Biden, statements from radical Democrats, and any number of unexpected surprises between now and November could dash any Democrat hopes of stopping a red tsunami from sweeping the House.

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