According to the just-updated Fix House race ratings, just 49 out of 435 congressional districts are competitive. Democrats haven’t been able to stretch the map to give themselves many additional opportunities — with a few notable exceptions — and races that are on the board haven’t really moved in Democrats’ direction much in recent weeks.
That’s a testament to Republicans hanging tough in a tricky political environment for them. They are defending 26 districts that President Obama won not just once but twice. And Democrats got plenty excited when it looked like the Trump implosion was arriving in mid-October. And yet it doesn’t seem like Democrats’ attempts to cast down-ballot Republicans as mini-Trumps is resonating with as many voters as they would have hoped.
In order to win the majority right now, Democrats would have to take 36 of the 49 competitive districts. That would translate to winning every “lean Democratic” district and every “toss-up” district, as well as 9 out of 22 districts we currently rate as “lean Republican.”
That said, even if Democrats take half of the “toss-ups,” they’ll have gained 13 seats and cut the GOP majority almost in half.
In other words: Democrats are still set to have a good night Tuesday. As it stands, nine of the 10 districts most likely to flip are Republican-held. We shuffled around the seats from last time, adding four new Republican ones — although more than a dozen House races could probably argue their way on here.
(P.S.: We also eliminated the three open seats pretty much guaranteed to flip thanks to redistricting that totally changed their partisan makeup: Florida’s 2nd, which will go for Republicans, and Florida’s 10th and Virginia’s 4th, which will go for Democrats.)
10. New York’s 19th, OPEN (R): Welcome New York’s 19th to the Friday Line, everyone! This Hudson Valley seat is the epitome of a swing district. Progressive star and law professor Zephyr Teachout (D) is running a strong campaign (getting glowing profiles in New York Magazine, for example), while former GOP Assembly Minority Leader John Faso (R) has struggled to make a clear-cut case of why he should be elected. But polls are close, and Teachout needs younger, lower-income voters to come out for her, which is never a safe bet. (Previous ranking: N/A)
9. Maine’s 2nd, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R): Welcome Maine’s 2nd to the Line, everyone! Former state senator Emily Cain (D) is seeking a rematch with Poliquin, who pulled off the upset in 2014. She’s giving him a run for his money; as Poliquin literally ducks reporters about whether he’ll support Trump, Cain looks to have erased Poliquin’s once double-digit lead: A late October Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll had Cain up 2, within the margin of error. Trivia fact: This is the most expensive U.S. House race in history, with more than $12 million spent so far on it. As a result, a Wesleyan Media Project study found that between Sept. 16 and Oct. 13, area voters were subjected to an average 333 ads A DAY related to this race. (Previous ranking: N/A)
8. Florida’s 7th, Rep. John Mica (R): Welcome Florida’s 7th! Thanks to redistricting, Mica — first elected in 1993 — is faced with his first competitive reelection in decades, and his rustiness may be costing him. “Top GOP congressman laughs his way to possible defeat,” was the headline in a recent Politico story about Mica’s overly chill attitude about what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the country. His challenger is Stephanie Murphy, a 38-year-old college instructor, former national security specialist and daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. House Republicans’ campaign arm jumped in two weeks ago to help get Mica over the line in this Orlando-area district, but it’s going to be close. (Previous ranking: N/A)
7. New Jersey’s 5th, Rep. Scott Garrett (R): Welcome New Jersey’s 5th! Garrett is another veteran Republican suddenly in trouble. But as Cook Political Report astutely pointed out, he has no one to blame but himself. If he loses to Microsoft ad exec Josh Gottheimer, prognosticators like us will immediately bring up his comment this summer that he wouldn’t contribute to House GOP’s campaign arm because he worries the committee backs gay candidates. Democrats are blaring that closed-door comment with all the subtlety of a bullhorn — they hired an airplane banner calling him a “bigot” — while House Republicans’ campaign committee hasn't spent a dime to help him. (Previous ranking: N/A)
6. Florida’s 18th, OPEN (D): This might be the most competitive Democratic-held seat on the map (though it’s hardly the only potential GOP pick up). Republicans are bullish on taking the seat Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) vacated to run for Senate. It’s a slightly Republican-leaning district, and they’ve got a dynamic candidate in Afghan War veteran Brian Mast. Businessman Randy Perkins (D) is self-funding his entire campaign (he asked Washington Democrats to stay out of it), but some of his attacks on Mast have come across as awkward, at best, and offensive, at worst. He recently told Mast, who is a war double amputee, to “be a man and stand behind your own ads.” (Previous ranking: 9)
5. Minnesota’s 2nd, OPEN (R): Rep. John Kline (R) is retiring after more than a decade representing this Twin Cities suburban seat. And Kline is ostensibly not happy with his potential successor, outspoken conservative talk radio host Jason Lewis, who won his primary after calling young, single women “not-thinking,” questioning the need to have fought the Civil War and saying the “white population” has been “committing political suicide” and “cultural suicide.” Democrats say hospital executive Angela Craig (D) is raising the money she needs to take this slightly Republican-leaning district. But as Roll Call’s Simone Pathé reports in more detail, Lewis is keeping things closer than expected. (Previous ranking: 4)
4. New Hampshire’s 1st, Rep. Frank Guinta (R): Guinta is badly weakened by admitting last year he took illegal campaign contributions from his parents. He somehow made it through the primary for his fourth-straight matchup against former congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D), who isn’t necessarily loved by voters, either. But the Washington tea leaves appear to show Shea-Porter with the edge: Democrats cancelled their planned ad spending here after touting a poll showing her up 10 points. A few weeks later, Republicans cancelled their planned ads — suggesting they think this seat isn't worth trying to save. (Previous ranking: 8)
3. Nevada’s 4th, Rep. Cresent Hardy (R): The moment Hardy won a surprise victory in 2014, Democrats started counting down to November 2016 for the chance to kick him out. They nominated one of the most polished candidates this cycle, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D), to do the job. But Republicans say not so fast: A Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Trump is slightly up in this purple, libertarian-leaning state. At the same time, early-voting in the state looks good for Democrats and if Trump struggles here, Hardy is probably out. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Illinois’s 10th, Rep. Bob Dold (R): We’ve said it before, we'll say it again: Dold is in the category of Republicans who could do everything right but still lose. His seat in the northern Chicago suburbs is one of the most Democratic districts Republicans hold this cycle. (Dold has said he’d never support Trump.) Former congressman Brad Schneider (D), whom Dold knocked off in 2014, wants his seat back. Given the district’s dynamics combined with the state’s heavy lean for Clinton, Schneider has a decent shot. (Previous ranking: 5)
1. Florida’s 13th, Rep. David Jolly (R): This is one of the few races on our list that hasn’t moved in recent months. Jolly is facing one of the most recognizable faces in Florida politics, former governor Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat who has run two failed statewide races in the past four years and is now running in his hometown congressional district, which happens to be newly redrawn to favor Democrats. Recent polls show Crist with a 3-point lead, but Trump and Clinton are tied in the state, so it could be a nail-biter. (Previous ranking: 1)
This post has been updated to more accurately describe Democrat Stephanie Murphy's background in the Florida 7th race.