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CNN moves 9 key House races in Dems' favor

With six weeks until Election Day, CNN has moved nine key House races in the Democrats' direction. CNN's John King breaks down the current political landscape with Margie Omero and Kristen Soltis Anderson of "The Pollsters" podcast.

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 6:06 PM
Updated: Sep 26, 2018 6:27 PM

With less than six weeks left before the 2018 midterm elections, I get asked -- a lot -- whether I think Republicans can hold into the House majority they won in 2014. And my general response is that Republicans have a less than 50-50 shot at holding it.

But looking closely at the House map -- and the latest race ratings released Tuesday by CNN -- I feel like that calculation may be underplaying (maybe by a lot) the odds that Democrats will net the 23 seats they need to takeover the majority.

Let's go through the numbers.

At the moment, CNN has 40(!) Republican-held seats rated as toss-ups or worse for the party. That total includes 26 GOP seats in toss-up, 11 Republican seats leaning Democratic, two GOP seats as likely Democratic and one seat ranked as solidly Democratic.

Compare that to the total number of Democratic seats rated as toss-ups or worse: three. Yes, just three. Two are toss-ups -- Minnesota's 1st and 8th districts -- and the third, Pennsylania's 14th, is rated as a solidly Republican seat. But even that is a bit misleading; the 14th district is the seat currently held by Rep. Conor Lamb (D), who is running (and winning) in the 17th district.

A little bit of basic math produces this conclusion: Republicans have more than 10 times the number of deeply-vulnerable seats than Democrats do. TEN times! (That's one more than nine times.)

And a little bit more basic math: If Democrats win the three GOP-held seats that are currently either rated by CNN as solid or likely Democratic and, say, two-thirds of the Republican seats in the leaning Democratic category, they need to win only half of the seats rated as toss-up to retake the House. If Democrats win all 14 of the Republicans seats that are ranked as solid, likely or leaning their way, they need to win only nine of the 26 GOP seats regarded by CNN as toss-ups to retake the House majority.

All of that math is compounded by the fact that, as I noted above, there are just very, very few Democratic-held seats in any real jeopardy. If Republicans were defending 40 of their own highly vulnerable seats but had, say, 20 Democratic-held seats that were in similar danger, the GOP would be in decent position. Yes, they would lose a bunch of their own seats but if they could counteract those losses with some gains in Democratic seats, it would make the math harder for Democrats.

That isn't how this election cycle has played out, however.

It's not just the raw number of seats that paint such a dire picture for the House majority -- although the picture they paint in sufficiently grim. It's history, too. In the post-Civil War era, there have been only three midterm elections -- 1934, 1998 and 2002 -- in which the president's party did not lose House seats. In each of those three instances, there was a catastrophic cultural event (Great Depression, Clinton impeachment, September 11) that shifted the vote. Those three elections are very clearly exceptions to a long-standing political rule.

The likely loss of seats -- as history tells it -- could well be compounded by President Donald Trump's middling approval rating, which is hovering in the upper 30s and low 40s. In the post World War II era, presidents with job approval ratings under 50% average a 37-seat loss in the House. AVERAGE.

There are two related pushbacks on this cornucopia of evidence that suggests Democrats will almost certainly win back the House in 41 days.

The first is that all the conventional wisdom suggested that Trump would lose in 2016 to Hillary Clinton and he won. Which is true. It is, of course, also true that polling predicted a narrow Clinton win nationally; she won the popular vote by almost 3 million.

The second is best understood through this reporting from The Washington Post's Erica Werner: "Joe Barton stood up in GOP conference this am and told members that the Washington Post predicted he would lose in '84 and he won ... therefore there's hope for the majority. Per GOP source."

Which, um, OK. Anecdotes about how you won -- in a state where Ronald Reagan won 63.6% of the vote and where Republicans held the national convention in 1984 -- may not be the best evidence of why there isn't a Democratic wave out there. But, whatever.

Math is math. And the math suggests Democrats are in a very strong position with 41 days left before the nation votes.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 114236

Reported Deaths: 3548
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21067764
Lake10397321
Elkhart6477109
St. Joseph6312105
Allen6113201
Hamilton4803109
Vanderburgh353630
Hendricks2694123
Monroe253136
Tippecanoe234713
Johnson2291123
Clark218756
Porter210546
Cass19399
Delaware191861
Vigo180324
Madison161975
LaPorte140540
Floyd135161
Howard129263
Warrick123436
Kosciusko121117
Bartholomew115557
Marshall99724
Dubois96418
Boone96046
Hancock91743
Grant90334
Noble90032
Henry79326
Wayne75114
Jackson7469
Morgan70938
Shelby66829
Daviess65828
Dearborn64728
LaGrange63411
Clinton59514
Harrison56624
Putnam54211
Knox5139
Lawrence51028
Montgomery50721
Gibson4964
White48314
DeKalb46811
Decatur45839
Miami4313
Greene42235
Fayette41913
Jasper3902
Steuben3787
Scott36711
Sullivan33312
Posey3160
Jennings31212
Franklin30325
Clay2995
Orange28824
Ripley2878
Carroll27313
Wabash2638
Washington2631
Whitley2617
Starke2597
Adams2553
Wells2513
Jefferson2473
Fulton2352
Spencer2283
Huntington2253
Tipton22122
Perry21613
Randolph2117
Jay1760
Newton17211
Owen1681
Martin1640
Rush1544
Pike1431
Vermillion1270
Fountain1202
Pulaski1161
Blackford1143
Brown1043
Crawford1040
Parke972
Benton880
Ohio787
Union780
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147744

Reported Deaths: 4715
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26545606
Cuyahoga17327656
Hamilton12953315
Montgomery7667157
Lucas7230364
Butler5838110
Summit5237252
Marion308347
Mahoning3030281
Warren300249
Stark2817170
Pickaway264444
Lorain229586
Delaware221620
Fairfield206752
Columbiana192480
Licking189863
Trumbull1876132
Wood180472
Clark177740
Clermont167923
Lake160850
Medina145139
Greene142032
Allen140869
Miami140751
Portage111666
Mercer110118
Erie93246
Tuscarawas92820
Wayne91967
Ross86823
Richland83919
Madison80212
Darke78442
Belmont71827
Geauga71348
Hancock68610
Ashtabula65548
Athens6532
Lawrence64122
Shelby61010
Auglaize5859
Putnam57923
Sandusky55820
Huron5427
Union5152
Scioto4896
Ottawa46930
Seneca46414
Preble43015
Muskingum3922
Holmes3857
Jefferson3354
Logan3083
Henry30613
Champaign3023
Perry2939
Defiance28811
Clinton28613
Brown2842
Knox28215
Washington25823
Morrow2572
Hardin25213
Jackson2466
Fulton2411
Ashland2364
Coshocton23311
Crawford2316
Fayette2286
Highland2223
Wyandot20812
Williams2063
Gallia18913
Pike1790
Meigs17410
Guernsey1678
Hocking1619
Carroll1527
Adams1264
Van Wert1163
Monroe11018
Paulding1070
Harrison632
Morgan470
Vinton473
Noble280
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