The 15 Republican-Held Congressional Districts Most In Danger Of Flipping

Shifting demographics and party loyalty impacting GOP chances in key suburban districts

While there is significant debate surrounding the extent of, or even the existence of, the so-called “blue wave” facing Republicans on Election Day, a combination of Democratic enthusiasm, Republican under-enthusiasm, historic trends, fundraising, and polls (biased as they may be) indicate the following 15 Congressional districts currently held by Republicans are the most in danger of flipping.

New Jersey 2nd – Open, retiring incumbent (Frank LoBiondo)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Moderate Republican Frank LoBiondo’s decision to retire after more than twenty years in office has left his party struggling to defend a southern New Jersey district President Trump won by nearly five points.

The Democratic candidate, state Senator Jeff Van Drew, cultivated a moderate record representing Cape May County – the most Republican-leaning portion of the district – and has drawn strong support from many labor organizations that historically backed LoBiondo.

Seth Grossman, a talk radio host who served as an Atlantic County freeholder in the 1980s, won a heavily contested Republican primary by tying himself closely to President Trump, but lost the endorsement of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) amid criticism of comments he made online regarding diversity and Islam.

Pennsylvania 5th – Vacant, incumbent resigned (Patrick Meehan)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Holding Pennsylvania’s 5th district was already an uphill battle for Republicans following Patrick Meehan’s decision not to seek re-election amid sexual harassment allegations, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s mandated statewide re-districting was the final nail in the coffin for GOP prospects.

Hillary Clinton won the areas encompassing the new Delaware County-based district by nearly 30 points.

Meehan ultimately resigned, leading Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to not call a special election before November 6th. Democratic former Wallingford school board member Mary Gay Scanlon is the overwhelming favorite over Republican Pearl Kim, a former prosecutor.

Pennsylvania 6th – Open, retiring incumbent (Ryan Costello)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Republican Ryan Costello was one of the biggest losers in Pennsylvania’s statewide re-districting, opting to retire rather than run in a district Hillary Clinton carried by over nine points.

The new district includes Chester County, an affluent suburban county that flipped from a narrow margin of victory for Mitt Romney in 2012 to a nine point win by Clinton, as well as a portion of Berks Country containing the heavily Democratic city of Reading, which has a sizable Hispanic population.

Having raised over $2.2 million thus far, the Democratic candidate – Air Force veteran and AND1 athletic apparel company executive Chrissy Houlahan – is the favorite over Republican attorney Greg McCauley.

Pennsylvania 17th – Incumbent running (Keith Rothfus)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Another victim of statewide re-districting is Republican Keith Rothfus, whose newly reconfigured district pits him against a House colleague: Democrat Conor Lamb, who saw his own 14th district redrawn into a safe Republican district.

The NRCC has canceled its remaining ad buy in support of Rothfus, a sign the party is growing pessimistic about his chances given the newly drawn district only gave Trump a 2.5 point margin of victory compared to 21 points in his old district.

Arizona 2nd – Open, incumbent running for Senate (Martha McSally)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Republican Martha McSally’s decision to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake has left her suburban Tucson district a prime target for Democrats.

The party nominated former Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who unsuccessfully challenged the late Senator John McCain in 2016.

Despite Hillary Clinton successfully carrying the district by nearly five points, and a political environment and shifting district demographics that favor Democrats, Republicans have an extremely credible candidate in Tucson Hispanic Chamber CEO Lea Marquez Peterson.

California 49th – Open, incumbent retiring (Darrell Issa)
Rating: Leans Democratic

After barely winning re-election by a razor-thin margin of less than one percent in 2016, Representative Darrell Issa has opted to retire, leaving his coastal Orange County/San Diego County district a credible pick-up opportunity for Democrats.

Republican Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey, who previously served in the State Assembly and on the Dana Point City Council, was the top vote getter in the state’s top-two primary, and will face Democratic environmental attorney Mike Levin.

Despite her experience, Harkey faces an uphill campaign in a district Hillary Clinton carried by over seven points.

Colorado 6th – Incumbent running (Mike Coffman)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Despite representing an increasingly more Democratic district, Republican Mike Coffman has adapted to his Denver-Aurora metro area district’s demographic changes by learning Spanish and cutting campaign ads in English and Spanish.

While Hillary Clinton carried the district by nearly nine points, Coffman – an Army and Marine veteran who served in the Gulf War and the 2003 War in Iraq – dashed Democratic hopes by defeating state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll by a similar margin.

This time around, he faces Jason Crow – an attorney and former Army Ranger who has matched Coffman’s fundraising numbers.

Recent polls have shown everything from a one point advantage for Crow to a larger 11 point spread, prompting some Republican campaign organizations to suspend their support for Coffman, leaving the race a toss-up that appears to favor the Democrats.

Iowa 1st – Incumbent running (Rod Blum)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Polling from both parties show Representative Rod Blum in a dead heat or trailing in his campaign for a third term. While President Trump carried the district – centered on the cities of Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Waterloo – by nearly four points, Obama carried it twice by double digit margins.

Blum’s opponent, Dubuque state Representative Abby Finkenauer, has raised nearly $1.8 million, having received significant backing from EMILY’s List.

While she has attempted to paint Blum as too conservative for the traditionally Democratic, pro-union district, she herself has attracted criticism for a perceived lack of policy experience during her brief tenure in the state legislature.

Kansas 3rd – Incumbent running (Kevin Yoder)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Representing a suburban Kansas City district that gave Clinton a one point margin of victory, Kevin Yoder is facing a strong challenge from Democratic attorney Sharice Davids, who raised $2.7 million compared to Yoder’s $1.6 million.

As recent polls have shown Yoder trailing, the NRCC canceled the remainder of its ad buy in a tacit admission they view Yoder’s race as increasingly un-winnable.

Michigan 11th – Open, incumbent retiring (Dave Trott)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Sensing his own vulnerability, two-term Republican Dave Trott decided against seeking re-election, leaving his party looking to Lena Epstein – President Trump’s 2016 Michigan campaign chair – to keep the seat.

Epstein faces Haley Stevens, who served as chief of staff to President Obama’s Auto Recovery Task Force.

While Trump carried the district by four points, Republican candidates in similar suburban, higher income districts across the country are struggling.

Minnesota 2nd – Incumbent running (Jason Lewis)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Voters in the suburbs south of the Twin Cities will be presented with a rematch of 2016, when now incumbent Republican Jason Lewis narrowly defeated Democrat Angie Craig.

While he won by a slim two point margin the last time, one thing will not be the same as 2016: a far-left independent candidate will not be on the ballot, siphoning off eight percent of the vote.

In light of Lewis’ slim margin of victory in 2016, along with his gradually declining fundraising, Democrats view Minnesota’s 2nd district as a prime pick-up opportunity.

Minnesota 3rd – Incumbent running (Erik Paulsen)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Despite winning 57 percent in 2016 while Hillary Clinton carried his district by nine points, five-term incumbent Erik Paulsen is reportedly trailing his Democratic opponent – businessman Dean Phillips – so badly the national party is preparing to cut off its support.

Paulsen represents the same type of wealthy, suburban district where Republicans are struggling nationwide.

New Jersey 11th – Open, incumbent retiring (Rodney Frelinghuysen)
Rating: Leans Democratic

After re-districting in the 1980s shifted New Jersey’s 11th district to wealthy Morris County, Republicans have consistently won re-election.

While the district skews Republican, longtime Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen’s decision to retire has left state Assemblyman Jay Webber locked in a tight race with Democratic former prosecutor Mikie Sherrill – a race in which he has been vastly out-fundraised.

Pennsylvania 7th – Vacant, incumbent resigned (Charlie Dent)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Moderate Republican Charlie Dent’s retirement, combined with statewide re-districting, has left Democrats in a good position to pick up another seat in Pennsylvania.

The new 7th district includes most of the original district’s boundaries, but also includes the rest of the Lehigh Valley, north of Philadelphia.

Hillary Clinton carried the newly drawn district by two points.

Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein won the Republican primary, and will face Democratic attorney Susan Wild.

Virginia 10th – Incumbent running (Barbara Comstock)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Republican Barbara Comstock has been referred to as the incumbent most in danger of losing her seat as her northern Virginia district continues its shift away from the Republican Party.

Despite the district’s increasingly Democratic tilt (Clinton carried it by over ten points), Comstock has proven to be a resilient campaigner, winning re-election by six points.

This time, she faces a credible challenge from state Senator Jennifer Wexton, who represents nearly a quarter of the 10th district.

Democrats are so optimistic about their chances of defeating Comstock the House Majority PAC recently canceled nearly $1 million in planned ads on behalf of Wexton.

Written by Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a contributor to The Schpiel.


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