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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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