Re­drawn dis­trict map backs up pre­dic­tions for elec­tion vic­to­ries

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

There is lit­tle good news for Repub­li­cans when it comes to the bat­tle for con­trol of the U.S. House, save for one dis­trict in south­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia that ev­ery prog­nos­ti­ca­tor says is a vir­tual lock to flip to Repub­li­cans next month.

The trade-off, how­ever, is six or seven other Penn­syl­va­nia seats that Democrats have de­signs on — all be­cause of a ma­jor court-or­dered re­draw­ing this year of the state’s con­gres­sional maps, mov­ing them from over­whelm­ingly Repub­li­can to com­pet­i­tively Demo­cratic.

In­deed, if things go the way Democrats hope, Penn­syl­va­nia alone could ac­count for more than a quar­ter of the 23 seats they need to win con­trol of the House.

Just how Demo­cratic the year is shap­ing up was un­der­scored last week when Nathan L. Gon­za­les, who runs In­side Elec­tions, re­leased his lat­est prog­nos­ti­ca­tion. He made changes in 24 House con­tests — all of them in Democrats’ fa­vor.

“At this stage, we’re talk­ing about whether Democrats have a good night or a great night in the House,” Mr. Gon­za­les said in re­leas­ing his up­date.

Democrats have re­cruited a good crop of can­di­dates, their fundrais­ing in House races is solid and, per­haps most im­por­tant to their prospects, Don­ald Trump is still pres­i­dent.

Al­though the fight over Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh has awak­ened Repub­li­can vot­ers, party strate­gists ac­knowl­edge it’s not enough to re­verse the mo­men­tum that Democrats have built up since Mr. Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in Jan­uary 2017.

That is hurt­ing in districts like the one held by Rep. Bar­bara Com­stock, just out­side of Wash­ing­ton, where the Vir­ginia Repub­li­can faces a stiff chal­lenge from state Sen. Jen­nifer Wex­ton, and in races in Florida and Cal­i­for­nia, where long­time Repub­li­can in­cum­bents are re­tir­ing.

In for­mer Repub­li­can strong­hold Or­ange County, Rep. Dana Rohrabache­r, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, is in real jeop­ardy for only the sec­ond time in 30 years.

“They’re all sub­ur­ban seats, they’re all places where we’re hav­ing trou­ble with women, and they’re all places where Repub­li­can vot­ers — not nec­es­sar­ily Trump vot­ers but Repub­li­can vot­ers — want to send a mes­sage to the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Mike McKenna, a Repub­li­can Party strate­gist.

He said Repub­li­cans are des­per­ately try­ing to per­suade those vot­ers to find a dif­fer­ent chan­nel for their anger and hop­ing to con­vince them of the con­se­quences of a protest vote.

“The mes­sage they want to send is go­ing to have a lot of ter­ri­ble bag­gage to it,” Mr. McKenna said. “What they don’t seem to un­der­stand is the net ef­fect of that is you’re hand­ing the keys over to Nancy Pelosi and her crowd.”

He said the Ka­vanaugh surge has helped some­what, per­haps low­er­ing Democrats’ ceil­ing by five seats — though he pre­dicted they are still on track to win the 218 needed to claim a ma­jor­ity.

An­a­lysts ap­proach con­gres­sional elec­tions by di­vid­ing seats into districts that are safe for one party or the other, then break­ing down the re­main­der into districts that lean one way or the other, and those that are pure toss-ups.

Ev­ery ma­jor anal­y­sis sug­gests Democrats have far more “safe” seats than Repub­li­cans. FiveThir­tyEight. com, one lead­ing prog­nos­ti­ca­tor, cal­cu­lated this week that Democrats have 191 safe seats and Repub­li­cans have just 140. Mr. Gon­za­les is the most bullish on the Repub­li­cans’ chances, with 162 safe seats — though Democrats in his anal­y­sis still top that with 186 safe seats.

Repub­li­cans do have far more seats in the “lean” cat­e­gory that they are pro­jected to win, and an­a­lysts say there are also enough toss-up seats that ei­ther party can win the ma­jor­ity.

But an­other met­ric also leans against Repub­li­cans: The “generic” bal­lot, in which poll­sters ask whether a voter plans to pull the lever for a Demo­crat or a Repub­li­can in the lo­cal con­gres­sional race, has also been de­cid­edly blue. The Real Clear Pol­i­tics av­er­age of polls gives Democrats a 6.9 per­cent­age point lead na­tion­ally.

Mr. Trump con­tin­ues to pre­dict a Repub­li­can wave to defy prog­nos­ti­ca­tors.

“The en­ergy on the Repub­li­can side, I don’t think it’s ever been greater,” the pres­i­dent said as he jet­ted off to Iowa for a cam­paign trip.

But Stu­art Rothen­berg, an an­a­lyst for Roll Call, a Capi­tol Hill pub­li­ca­tion, said the fun­da­men­tal tra­jec­tory of the elec­tion hasn’t changed and it’s still good for Democrats.

In his lat­est eval­u­a­tion Wednesday, he said Democrats who stayed home in 2016 or who voted for a third-party can­di­date, find­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton flawed, are more en­thu­si­as­tic to turn out to cast a vote against Mr. Trump. Mean­while, many sub­ur­ban Trump vot­ers in 2016 who

State Sen. Jen­nifer Wex­ton is the Demo­crat chal­leng­ing Ms. Com­stock for the 10th Dis­trict seat rep­re­sent­ing North­ern Vir­ginia’s sub­urbs on Nov. 6

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