Today it is time for our inaugural House Ratings. Here is this cycle’s first Big Board:
|Likely D||Lean D||Tossup||Lean R||Likely R|
NY-18 (S. Maloney)
IL-13 (R. Davis)
Seats not listed are safe for their incumbent party. As always, bold means a seat we project to flip and italics means a D-held Tossup. These ratings mean we are projecting a net shift in the House of between R+4 and D+8.
As we generally are wont to do, this cycle’s big board starts very big. We have 96 seats currently listed as on the playing field, a bit more than in previous cycles, because the dominant state of the House picture right now is one of profound uncertainty. However, we do know that Democrats have far, far more upside than Republicans do – we list just 26 Dem held seats as being on the board compared to 70 GOP-held seats. So the current projection of no change to a small Dem gain is probably close to the best-case scenario for the GOP. However, we still see Democrats gaining the seats they need to take over the House as something of a long-shot. Pay close attention to the 22 seats we have rated as Lean R – right now it’s difficult to imagine a Dem path to a House takeover that doesn’t run through flipping at least most of those, which contain a large chunk of once-Safe-R suburban seats that trended strongly against Trump in 2016 and now look quite purple. Of course, this early in the cycle we tend to err on the side of overestimating the playing field rather than underestimating it, and you can consider it a pretty safe bet that those Likely R and Likely D categories will shrink dramatically with time – some of the races we consider potentially competitive right now will wind up Safe as credible opponents materialize or fail to do so. For now overall we hesitate to predict any major changes in the House landscape, but that doesn’t mean such changes are not very possible depending on the national environment – and something Republican incumbents listed need to be wary of.