Analysis

Fight for the House: Democrats smell victory

The House membership in the 114th Congress. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Nine races in November could determine which party controls the House for the next decade—and the map looks good for Democrats.

This fall, Democrats face a bad map in the Senate and are in a tough battle to take back the House. But the party is on offense in nine crucial contests around the country that could determine control of Congress for the next decade.

There are 36 gubernatorial races this fall in states that contain a combined 344 congressional districts. Democrats hold governorships in nine of those states with 127 combined congressional districts.

The governors who are elected in 2018 will preside over their state’s redistricting after the 2020 census, and Democrats seem poised to pick up a number of statehouses this fall.

Having a Democrat in office could help ensure a more beneficial set of congressional districts and prevent a distorted Republican gerrymander.

There are 36 gubernatorial races this fall in states that contain a combined 344 congressional districts. Democrats hold governorships in nine of those states with 127 combined congressional districts.

Republicans control statehouses in 26 of those states, which have a combined 216 congressional seats. One state, Alaska with its one congressional district, currently has an independent governor.

But looking at the map, Democrats are likely to make gains. After November, Dems will hold governorships in at least 12 states considered safe Democratic races by the Cook Political Report. 

They include all nine states that currently have Democratic governors, with pickups in Illinois and New Mexico—states with a combined 21 congressional districts.

Here are those states:

(Ed’s Note: An asterisk below means a state currently has a Republican governor.)

Safe or likely Democratic seats (12 states, 149 congressional districts)

(Democrats are expected to pick up 18 seats.)

California: 53

New York: 27

Hawaii: 2

Pennsylvania: 18

Rhode Island: 2

Colorado: 7

Minnesota: 8

Oregon: 5

Connecticut: 5

Alaska: 1

*Illinois: 18

New Mexico: 3

The seven battleground states are all states with Republican governors. Between the seven there are 71 congressional districts. And while Donald Trump carried six of these seven states in the 2016 election, Democrats are either favored or within striking distance in these races.

These toss-up races include electoral-rich swing states such as Florida, Michigan and Ohio, which all went for Trump in 2016:

Toss-ups (seven states, 71 congressional districts)

*Florida: 27

*Florida: 4

*Kansas: 4

*Maine: 2

*Michigan: 14

*Nevada: 4

*Ohio: 16

The next tier are two states that lean Republican, but where Democrats could be competitive. Georgia and Wisconsin have a combined 22 congressional seats between them.

Finally, there are the remaining 13 gubernatorial seats that are deemed safe to remain in Republican hands. Together, these states account for 95 Congressional districts.

Likely Republican (13 states, 95 congressional districts)

Arizona: 9

Alabama: 7

Arkansas: 4

Idaho: 2

Massachusetts: 9

Maryland: 8

Nebraska: 3

Oklahoma: 5

South Dakota: 1

Tennessee: 9

Texas: 36

Vermont: 1

Wyoming: 1

The map at RealClearPolitics shows an even more favorable landscape for Democrats, counting races in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin as true toss-ups.

If Democrats sweep and pick up all nine competitive gubernatorial races, it would mean a Democrat presiding over the redrawing of about 93 additional congressional districts (that number could change slightly with population shifts marked in the 2020 census.)

While it is impossible to quantify exactly how many congressional districts that may be worth to Democrats, it is safe to say that being able to avoid a gerrymander for the next decade would ease the party’s path to power in future House elections.

 


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