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The 70 Somewhat Competitive House Seats


Candidate quality matters: Mary Peltola and Sarah Palin

There are 435 congressional districts. Most of them are safe seats for one party or the other. In fact I’m only seeing 70 districts where there’s any electoral uncertainty at all. There are 6 basically new districts with no incumbents that could go either way, 44 districts held by Democrats now that could flip red and 20 districts held by Republicans now that could flip blue.


I think the best way to organize this would be to just do it alphabetically by state. First up— Alaska, where it’s very likely that just-elected Mary Peltola will be elected for a full term against Sarah Palin, who she beat last time. Current local polling shows Peltola beating Palin more substantially than the first time, perhaps without a second round.


Arizona has 3 districts that could possibly flip: AZ-01 which went from a partisan lean of R+13 to R+7. Incumbent David Schweikert is a weak candidate and there’s a slight chance Democrat Jevin Hodge could beat him. The state legislature set about to turn blue districts AZ-02 and AZ-06 red. Former Republican Tom O’Halleran, a Blue Dog, has a district that went from R+6 to R+15, nearly impossible for a Democrat to win. Republican Eli Crane is likely to win this one. With Ann Kirkpatrick retiring from the southeast district (AZ-06) going from a D+2 partisan lean to R+7 it will be tough for them Democrats to hold. However the Democratic candidate, Kristen Engel is a strong candidate and has a decent chance to beat Republican Juan Ciscomani


California has 10 districts worth discussing, though some are much less vulnerable than others. CA-03 is a new district with no incumbent. The R+8 partisan lean favors Republican Kevin Kiley but Kermit Jones is a strong candidate making the race competitive. CA-09 went from D+14 to D+8, probably safe for Josh Harder who’s being challenged by Tom Patti. CA-13, CA-22 and CA-27 are all districts with Democratic voter advantages and partisan leans that should elect Democrats. However all 3 Democratic candidates are terrible conservative candidates from the legislature, Adam Gray (Also very corrupt), Rudy Salas (even more corrupt) and Christy Smith, who has already been rejected by the voters 3 times allowing Trumpist goon Mike Garcia to win the seat and be reelected. CA-23 is a longshot— but also the best opportunity to elect a strong progressive, Derek Marshall, who is taking on Trumpist Jay Obernolte in a district with an R+15 partisan lean.


Southern California looks somewhat better, although CA-40 went from D+6 (as CA-39) to R+4, making it very hard for Democrat Asif Mahmood to replace garden variety conservative Republican Young Kim. CA-41 went in the opposite direction, but probably not strongly enough. Ken Calvert’s district had a partisan lean of R+13 and is now an R+7 district, giving Democrat Will Rollins a chance to beat him. Republican incumbent Michelle Steel looks like she’s in big trouble. The partisan lean of her Orange County district (re-numbered CA-45) went from R+2 to D+5 and Democrat Jay Chen is a strong candidate. The former CA-45 was Katie Porter’s district and her new number is CA-47, which is bluer than her old district and has a D+6 lean. She’s running against Scott Baugh, who she should be able to fend off without too much trouble. Ditto for Democrat Mike Levin (CA-49) even though his district’s lean went from D+7 to D+5. Republican Brian Maryott is running against him again and is likely to lose again.


Colorado has 2 competitive seats, CO-07 from which Ed Perlmutter is retiring. The suburban Denver district went from D+15 to D+6 and state Sen Brittany Pettersen should beat extremist freak Erik Aardland handily. CO-08, a new district, is a tougher situation. The partisan lean is R+3 and Democratic state Rep. Yadera Caraveo is competitive with Republican Barb Kirkmeyer.

Republican George Logan is trying to dislodge Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes in CT-05, which has a partisan lean of D+3. There are 3 swingy Florida seats, Charlie Crist’s seat, FL-13, which went from R+1 to R+12. It will be very tough for Eric Lynn to beat GOP crackpot Anna Paulina Luna. FL-15 is less Republican than it was, from R+14 to R+7 and Alan Cohn has a shot of beating ex-Secretary of State Laurel Lee. The final Florida race, FL-27 is represented by worthless Republican Maria Salazar, a Miami district that had a D+4 lean but is now D+1. The difference this year is that there’s a good Democratic candidate, Annette Taddeo. Taddeo is heading into the last month with significantly less cash on hand than Salazar-- $427,730 to $1,515,150.


The Republicans have a slight chance to take the southwest Georgia district, GA-02, which is represented by a senile, conservative Blue Dog, Sanford Bishop. The lean went from D+6 to D+4 and Republican Chris West shouldn’t be a serious threat but he is because of how weak the incumbent is. All 3 Illinois swing districts were gerrymandered by the Democratic-controlled legislature to help their candidates. Rodney Davis’ seat (IL-13) went from R+8 to D+7 and Nikki Budzinski should be able to beat Regan Deering. That IL-14 should be safe for Lauren Underwood with her district going from R+3 to D+7. And finally IL-17, the seat Cheri Bustos is leaving, went from a lean of R+5 to D+4, Democrat Eric Sorensen has a leg up on Esther Joy King who nearly beat Bustos in 2020.


IN-01 stayed D+7 and Frank Mrvan should be able to beat Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green. The 3 swing districts in Iowa are unlikely to change. Two are held by Republicans, Ashley Hinson and Marionnette Miller-Meeks and one is held by a conservative Democrat, Cindy Axne. I don’t see any of them flipping. Kansas’ one Democrat, Sharice Davids, may have been gerrymandered out of her seat, the partisan lean going from D+4 to R+3. Amanda Adkins has a good shot to flip the seat red.


Maine’s second district was red— R+10 and got a little redder, R+11— but Blue Dog Jared Golden managed to beat Republican Bruce Poliquin in 2018. Poliquin is back for another try and it could be very close. Independent Tiffany Bond will through it into a second round, likely to help Golden (again). Maryland’s 6th district went from D+16 to R+1 and Democratic incumbent David Trone could have a problem. Republican Neil Parrott is pretty extreme and Trone should be able to hold his seat. Trone put $12,552,000 of his own money into the campaign and Parrott has only raised $327,021.


Michigan has 3 competitive seats— MI-03, which had an R+9 lean and now has a D+3 lean, while Republican primary voters defeated mainstream conservative Peter Meijer and replaced him with crackpot extremist John Gibbs, who is likely to be beaten by Blue Dog Hillary Scholten. MI-07 went from R+6 to R+4 but it will still be tough for incumbent Elissa Slotkin (D) to beat Republican state Senator Tom Barrett. Dan Kildee’s district got a bit redder— from D+1 to R+1— but he’s running a strong campaign against extremist Paul Junge. There are 2 swing districts in Minnesota— Republican-held MN-01, where Republican Brad Finstad just beat Democrat Jeff Ettinger in a special election. The district has an R+14 partisan lean and there’s no reason to think Finstad won’t be reelected. In MN-02, Twin Cities suburbs, Angie Craig still has a D+1 lean district and should be able to beat Republican Tyler Kistner.


MT-01 is Montana’s new district has an R+10 lean and two really bad candidates, Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat Monica Tranel. Zinke is certainly worse but both are “F” grade candidates. The Omaha district (NE-02) was even and is now R+3 and there’s no reason to think Don Bacon won’t be reelected in November. Nevada’s legislature made it easier for Democratic incumbents Susie Lee and Steven Horsford to win. Her district went from R+5 to D+2 and his from R+1 to D+5. I think Nevada will be pretty safe on the congressional level.


Both New Hampshire seats could be up for grabs but Annie Kuster is probably safe because the district is slightly blue and because her GOP opponent Robert Burns has only raised $185,998 compared to Kuster’s $3,165,803. He’s also a nut, but not as wildly crazy and overtly MAGA as Chris Pappas’ opponent, Karoline Leavitt in the slightly redder district (R+1). Pappas has $2,271,796 left to Leavitt’s $574,357. The New Jersey legislature totally screwed Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski, who has an ethics problem, by turning a D+4 lean district to an R+3 lean. Unfortunately for Malinowski, the Republicans nominated a mainstream candidate, Tom Kean, Jr, who can likely beat him, even though Malinowski has raised $5.8 million to Kean’s $2.7 million.


North Carolina Democrats should be able to keep the first district but their candidate, anti-Choice conservative Don Davis, is one of the worst Democrats nominated for Congress anywhere. Republican Sandy Smith is also beyond horrible so it should be a lesser of two evils race in a D+5 district. Davis is likely to win. The other interesting North Carolina race— a new district— (NC-13) pits Madison Cawthorn heart-throb (and Trumpist) Bo Hines against state Sen. Wiley Nickel in a marginal red district in the suburbs south of Raleigh. New Mexico’s second district went from a safe R+14 to a D+4 and there is every reason to believe that Democrat Gabe Vasquez is going to replace Republican anti-Choice incumbent Yvette Herrell.


New York, with 6 seats to watch, is a dynamic encompassing abortion rights, gerrymandered districts and bad candidates. The good Democratic candidates were all drowned in a sea of dirt primary money. Only one district got bluer— NY-01 in Suffolk County, from which Lee Zeldin is retiring. The Democrats nominated a mediocre candidate, Bridget Fleming to face Republican Nick LaLota and since the district still has an R+5 lean and she’s nothing special, expect to see him in Congress next year. On the other end of Long Island, Tom Suozzi is retiring and NY-03 nominated another mediocre candidate establishment nothing Robert Zimmerman against an even less qualified Republican, George Santos. The district went from a D+8 lean to a D+4 and Santos ($580,000 in self-funding) has seriously outraised Zimmerman ($63,290 in self-funding). Assemblyman Mike Lawler could give much-disliked Democratic carpetbagger Sean Patrick Maloney a run for his money is a district that went from D+17 to D+7. Maloney, a Wall Street whore, has raised $3,970,994 to Lawler’s $519,321. One district over, new Congressman Pat Ryan is probably beating Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in a D+3 district (after having beaten Marc Molinaro in a red district next door. Ryan’s ne celebrity has helped him raiser almost double what Schmitt has. And speaking of Molinaro, the one who lost the sepcial election in NY-19, he’s up against Josh Riley now and it’s a very competitive race. In Central New York, John Katko is retiring from the Syracuse-centered district (NY-22)—which went from a D+4 to a D+2. It would be a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to win the district— and they may… with a really piece of crap candidate, conservative moron Francis Conole, owned by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. Ironically, the Republican, Brandon Williams, is so inept that a Conservative party candidate, self-funder Steve Wells, is outraising him by 3-1 and might wind up as a bigger threat to Conole than Williams. In the primary, McCarthy’s SuperPAC spent a million dollars to defeat Wiliams, who won anyway. There is no good outcome to this race.


There are 3 seats in Ohio— OH-01 (the Cincinnati seat), where Republican incumbent Steve Chabot is in big trouble. The district’s R+8 lean is now D+3 and Greg Landsman is proving a strong competitor. It’s the best chance for a red to blue flip in the midwest. The state legislature handed the GOP a sure win in OH-09, Marcy Kaptur’s district, which went from a D+16 lean to an R+6 lean. But then 2 establishment candidates split the GOP vote and total MAGA crackpot dj J.R. Majewski won the nomination with 35% and seems to be about to lose to Kaptur. Even the Republican Party has abandoned him after he was caught lying about his military service. Kaptur has raised about 4 times more than Majewski and has more than 10 times more than he does headed into November. The third seat is a small part of Tim Ryan’s district and it has a slight Republican lean (R+2) where Emilia Sykes is facing off against MAGA personality Madison Gesiotto Gilbert. Lots of outside spending in this race, about equal for the two candidates.


There haven’t been any changes in Oregon’s congressional makeup in a long time but there are 3 seats worth watching this time, a new one with no incumbent and two Democratic seats with no incumbents. Pete DeFazio is retiring from OR-04 after a tough 2020 reelection against Alex Skarlatos, who spent $5.4 million, forcing DeFazio to raise far more than he wanted to. The district, though, went from an R+1 partisan lean to a D+9 lean. Skarlatos is running again— and has raised around $2.5 million. The Democrats nominated a very mediocre candidate, Val Hoyle, who may blow the chance to hold onto a blue seat. Progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner dispatched Blue Dog Kurt Schrader in the OR-05 primary and is now facing off against a run-of-the-mill Republican, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, in a bluish district (D+3). Chavez-DeRemer has self-financed about half a million dollars into her campaign but McLeod-Skinner’s support from small donors is more than making up for it. She’s going into the final month with significantly more in the bank than Chavez-DeRemer— and with a winning message. The new district, OR-06, has a D+7 partisan lean and state Rep Andrea Salinas should be able to beat Republican Mike Erickson, who is too extreme for the district.


Pennsylvania also has 3 seats that look flippable, all of which are blue. PA-07 had an even partisan divide and now leans red (R+4) and Susan Wild is experiencing a tough challenge from Republican self-funder Lisa Scheller. Wild is way ahead in the contribution department and has almost 3 times more money going into the final month. One district north, is Matt Cartwright’s NEPA district, which has a partisan lean of R+8. Though Trump won the district in 2020, Cartwright beat GOP operative Jim Bognet (51.7% to 48.3%) on the same day. Bognet is back for another go this time and Cartwright has outraised him 3 to 1 and has almost 4 times as much to spend in the final run-up to November. Cartwright is a rare example of a progressive in a red district. He’s worth supporting. So is Chris DeLuzio, the progressive Democrat running to replace Conor Lamb In PA-17. Lamb left the seat for an unsuccessful run against John Fetterman in the US Senate race. DeLuzio is facing off against million dollar self-funder Jeremy Shaffer. Luckily for DeLuzio, the district went from R+2 ro D+1.


Seth Magaziner is such a dull candidate that though RI-02 has a strong D+17 partisan lean, Republican Allan Fung is giving him a serious challenge. Magaziner is slightly ahead financially heading into the final lap. Texas has 3 competitive races. TX-15 is an open seat and has no lean one way or the other (down from D+2). Progressive Michelle Vallejo faces off against Trumpist Monica de la Cruz who has outraised her $2,864,818 to $697,480. Vallejo can certainly use some help today. TX-28 sees reactionary Blue Dog Henry Cuellar facing off against reactionary Republican Cassy Garcia in a district that went from D+4 to D+7. The Republicans in the legislature love Cuellar. Another South Texas seat, TX-34, has an accidental congresswoman, Mayra Flores (R), who just won a special election. The district, though, has since gone from D+5 to D+17 and it is likely that conservative Dem Vicente Gonzalez, also an incumbent, will beat her.


There are two Virginia seats held by conservative Democrats in jeopardy, VA-02, which went from R+2 to R+6 and where Jen Kiggans is going to probably beat New Dem Elaine Luria, despite Luria outraising her $5.8 million to $1.6 million. The other seat is VA-07 which went from R+5 to D+2 and where Blue Dog Abigail Spanberger will likely be reelected over Yesli Vega. Spanberger heads into the final weeks with $4.9 million to spend to Vega’s quarter million.


Washington has 2 seats that could flip as well. WA-03 was Jaime Herrera Beutler but the MAGA voters threw her out for deranged extremist Joe Kent. The district has an R+11 lean so Kent, who has massively out-raised Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, could well wind up winning. The other district, WA-08 has no partisan lean, Last cycle Democratic incumbent Kim Schrier won 51.7% to 48.1%. This time she’s being challenged by right-wing self-funder Matt Larkin, who put $535,800 of his own into the campaign. That said, Schrier is going into the last month of the race with $5,6 million to Larkin’s $480,440. I’m guessing she’ll retain her seat.


The last competitive seat doesn’t look competitive to me at all and I probably should not even be including it. After a very close call in 2020 against Republican Derrick Van Orden, conservative New Dem Ron Kind is retiring. His handpicked replacement conservative Brad Pfaff isn’t going to hold this R+9 district. He’s only raised $720,637 against Van Orden’s $4,418,105. If the Democrats are counting on holding this seat, we’re in big trouble.


What did we learn? Candidate quality counts— and not just for Republicans. The Democrats are having problems across the country because of the raft of shitty candidates they nominated as well. They certainly think “lesser-of-two-evils” races are all they can win. The U.S. needs to get out from under the two party system before it crushes us. This morning, in his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove asked How Big Will the GOP House Majority Be After the Midterms? Pushing a GOP narrative, he noted that “With a modestly better political standing than six months ago, Democrats are playing up expectations that they could keep the House by pointing to their special-election performances. Republicans are more reserved about their outlook, but it’s highly likely the GOP wins most of the competitive races and takes the House. And there will be surprises— good and bad— for each side. Candidate quality matters and both parties nominated some knuckleheads.”


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