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Stirewaltisms: Presenting Your 2022 House Race Ratings
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Stirewaltisms: Presenting Your 2022 House Race Ratings

An upward revision for the GOP points to some breathing room for the red team.

Katie Porter is among the Democratic incumbents feeling the heat this election season. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PRESENTING YOUR 2022 HOUSE RACE RATINGS

Seven weeks ago, our House forecast pointed to expected gains of about 15 seats for Republicans—enough to give the GOP a hard-to-handle 10-seat majority in the lower chamber. But we also said that the winds were blowing in the Republicans’ direction. And boy, did they ever.

The 3.4-point shift in the average generic ballot since then has been enough to give Republicans a small but clear 1.3-point advantage on the question of which party voters generally prefer to control Congress. That wouldn’t be enough to deliver the kinds of 25-seat and 30-seat majorities the GOP won in 2010 and 2014, but certainly enough to give the red team some breathing room and make Democrats start thinking about a wipeout.

When it comes to what the overall composition of the House will be, it doesn’t really help to get bogged down in specific races. With 435 simultaneous contests, it’s better to think about the climate overall. The national mood will tell us what the range of seats will be, then we can drill down on specific races to try to put a finer point on the number.

Starting at generalities, Republicans appear to be on track for a net gain of between 15 and 25 seats compared to the 2020 election, so let’s drop the plumb line on a 20-seat gain for a majority of about 233 seats compared to 202 seats for Democrats. That would be a 16-seat majority, which looks pretty good compared to the Dems’ current three-vote margin. 

This is about more than just the national climate, too. Republicans enjoy some structural advantages in House elections as the party of rural voters, and since Republicans also increasingly won’t participate in public opinion polls, so we have to assume a little Kentucky windage as we line up our shot. 

As for specific contests, polling isn’t much help at all. It’s hard to poll congressional races, particularly after redistricting, and there just aren’t enough polls to be worth fiddling with. Instead, we’ve chosen seven races that have stories to tell about what’s happening across types of districts and candidates. These will help you get some early emmanations on Election Night and frame your thinking about the battle for the House nationally. After that, you’ll see ratings for all 65 of the seats we think are at least somewhat competitive, ranging from dead heats all the way to long shots for both parties.  

We have divided the races into our five usual categories: Solid Democratic, Solid Republican, Lean Democratic, Lean Republican, and, the most competitive, Toss-up. But we need one more, Safe Republican Gains, encompassing four races where there is a retiring Democratic incumbent or a newly created district where the blue team is not competitive. Think about what that says: There are no safe Democratic flips, so if Republicans need to flip just five seats to take the majority, they’re kind of already on third base.

RACES TO WATCH 

Washington 3rd District (open): Incumbent: Jaime Herrera Beutler (lost primary); Contest: Joe Kent (R) / Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D); 2020 result: Trump +4.5

Former Green Beret Joe Kent spent much of primary season trotting out mega-MAGA talking points about election fraud, vaccines, and immigration. The strategy paid off: Kent finished ahead of  fellow Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump, in a crowded August all-party primary. Kent’s positions sparked Democratic hope that they might capture this red-leaning district in Southwest Washington. Suiting up against Kent is Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto shop owner. Similar matchups—moderate Democrat against full MAGA Republican—are playing out across the country (see Ohio’s 9th and Michigan’s 3rd). A Perez victory would represent a high-water mark for Democrats on Election Night—and a repudiation of the GOP’s most extreme wing. If Kent wins, as most predict, the Republican caucus lurches further into the former president’s orbit.

Nebraska 2nd District: Incumbent: Don Bacon (first elected 2016); Contest: Don Bacon (R) / Tony Vargas (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.4

This eastern Nebraska district, which covers Omaha and its suburbs, has been a white whale for House Democrats since 2008, when Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate in party history to carry the district. That didn’t happen again for 12 years, when Biden won the district’s single electoral vote in 2020. Incumbent Don Bacon secured enough split-tickets to win another term. Despite his narrow escapes in bluer years, Bacon faces yet another strong challenge, this year from state legislator Tony Vargas. The Nebraska legislature’s push for an abortion ban has allowed Vargas to deploy arguments like those that drove a backlash in neighboring Kansas in an August referendum. Both candidates are willing to cross the aisle: Vargas has criticized Biden’s student debt relief, while Bacon touts his climate change legislation. If Democrats emerge victorious in Omaha, Nancy Pelosi is almost certainly having a better night than expected. A strong Vargas performance would bode well for other suburban red-state Democratic candidates like Sharice Davids (KS-03) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09).

Pennsylvania 8th District: Incumbent: Matt Cartwright (first elected 2012); Contest: Jim Bognet (R) / Matt Cartwright (D); 2020 result: Trump +2.9

Trump-district Democrats are a rare breed these days. The decline in ticket-splitting and a rash of retirements has left just four incumbent Democrats running in districts won by Trump in 2020: Iowa’s Cindy Axne, Maine’s Jared Golden, Arizona’s Tom O’Halleran, and in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Matt Cartwright. All are in serious trouble. Cartwright has run a smart campaign in his rematch with 2020 challenger Republican Jim Bognet. Cartwright is emphasizing infrastructure spending and capping drug costs while avoiding student debt forgiveness and immigration like the plague. Recognizing the red lean of a blue-collar district that includes Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Cartwright’s media strategy has highlighted support from Trump voters. This week’s New York Times poll has Cartwright winning 11 percent of Trump supporters—an astounding level of crossover voting in our polarized time. On the other side, Bognet, longtime GOP operative who snagged a Trump appointment to a communications job at the Export-Import Bank, has countered effectively, hammering Cartwright on inflation and likening him to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This race is a true toss-up: Will Cartwright successfully localize the race? Or can Bognet ride the fundamentals to victory? If Cartwright holds on, Democrats will likely have succeeded in limiting their national losses.

Virginia 2nd District: Incumbent: Elaine Luria (first elected 2018); Contest: Jen Kiggans (R) / Elaine Luria (D); 2020 result: Biden +3.1

Perhaps no congressional race will tell us more about the national environment than Virginia’s 2nd District. The two contestants, Elaine Luria for the Democrats and Jen Kiggans for the Republicans, are locked in what seems to be an absolute toss-up. District-level polling indicates a dead heat. Both candidates are Navy veterans, both have bucked the party line to win crossover support, and both fit the swingy Virginia Beach-based district quite well. Luria has centered her campaign on abortion, a strategy emblematic of Democrats nationwide, while Kiggans has focused on inflation. With more than $12 million worth of ads flooding the airwaves, each campaign has thoroughly saturated the district’s media market. In this battle between two strong candidates, neither side can scapegoat scandal or financial disadvantage. The issues and environment decide the winner. Virginia polls are among the earliest to close in the nation, at 7 p.m. ET. Keep an eye on this one on November 8 for hints about the rest of the night. 

Texas 28th District: Incumbent: Henry Cuellar (first elected 2004); Contest: Cassy Garcia (R) / Henry Cuellar (D); 2020 result: Biden +7.2

Democrat Henry Cuellar emerged bloody but unbowed after a contentious primary with progressive Jessica Cisneros back in June. The sole remaining pro-life House Democrat, Cuellar has represented his South Texas seat since 2005. He faces a strong challenge from Cassy Garcia, the wife of a Border Patrol agent and unabashedly pro-Trump Republican. The national GOP has dumped millions on Cuellar in an attempt to tie him to unpopular social policies that have tilted some Hispanic voters toward Republicans of late. Cuellar’s conservative stances makes his race a good litmus test: If he goes down in this district, which is nearly three-quarters Hispanic, the red shifts we observed in 2020 will appear less an aberration and more a long-term demographic realignment.

Connecticut 5th District:  Incumbent: Jahana Hayes (first elected 2018); Contest: George Logan (R) / Jahana Hayes (D); 2020 result: Biden +10.9

Not since 2009 has a Republican represented the Nutmeg State in the House. National Republicans hope that in former state Sen. George Logan they have the man to end the drought. Facing off against Democrat Jahana Hayes, Logan is one of a record-breaking 22 African American Republican House candidates running this year. Logan represented a nearby state senate district for two terms, so he knows the political landscape. He has moderated on abortion in an effort to blunt Hayes’ most potent attacks. Republicans have consistently overestimated their chances in Northwest Connecticut, but the more than $7 million in outside spending suggests both parties think the district is in play. An Emerson poll released Wednesday justifies the spending spree: Logan leads Hayes by a point. A Logan victory indicates a strong night for Republicans.

California 47th District: Incumbent: Katie Porter (first elected 2018); Contest: Scott Baugh (R) / Katie Porter (D); 2020 result: Biden +11.9

Incumbent Katie Porter spent much of the summer doling out her sizable campaign war chest to Democrats in battleground districts. Suddenly, Porter—a star of the 2018 Democratic class—finds herself in a competitive race. Her Orange County district voted for Biden by nearly 12 points in 2020, but if the bottom falls out for the blue team on Election Day, Porter could lose to former state Assembly member Scott Baugh. The Porter campaign recently went on air in the expensive Los Angeles market, yet another sign that her campaign is feeling the pressure. It may take weeks to count all the mail-in ballots in a tight race, but if Porter loses, Republicans will likely be approaching tsunami-level gains in the House.

TOSS-UP

AZ-01: Incumbent: David Schweikert (first elected 2010); Contest: David Schweikert (R) / Jevin Hodge (D); 2020 result: Biden +1.5

CA-13 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: John Duarte (R) / Adam Gray (D); 2020 result: Biden +11.4

CA-22: Incumbent: David Valadao (first elected 2020); Contest: David Valadao (R) / Rudy Salas (D); 2020 result: Biden +13.1

CA-27: Incumbent: Mike Garcia (first elected 2020); Contest: Mike Garcia (R) / Christy Smith (D); 2020 result: Biden +12.7

CA-49: Incumbent: Mike Levin (first elected 2018); Contest: Brian Maryott (R) / Mike Levin (D); 2020 result: Biden +11.3

CT-05: Incumbent: Jahana Hayes (first elected 2018); Contest: George Logan (R) / Jahana Hayes (D); 2020 result: Biden +10.9

CO-08 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Barbara Kirkmeyer (R) / Yadira Caraveo (D); 2020 result: Biden +4.7

IL-17 (open): Incumbent: Cheri Bustos (retiring); Contest: Esther Joy King (R) / Eric Sorensen (D); 2020 result: Biden +7.8

IN-01: Incumbent: Frank J. Mrvan (first elected 2020); Contest: Jennifer-Ruth Green (R) / Frank J. Mrvan (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.5

KS-03: Incumbent: Sharice Davids (first elected 2018); Contest: Amanda Adkins (R) / Sharice Davids (D); 2020 result: Biden +4.5

ME-02: Incumbent: Jared Golden (first elected 2018); Contest: Bruce Poliquin (R) / Jared Golden (D); 2020 result: Trump +6.3

MI-07: Incumbent: Elissa Slotkin (first elected 2018); Contest: Tom Barrett (R) / Elissa Slotkin (D); 2020 result: Biden +0.9

MI-08: Incumbent: Dan Kildee (first elected 2012); Contest: Paul Junge (R) / Dan Kildee (D); 2020 result: Biden +2.1

MN-02: Incumbent: Angie Craig (first elected 2018); Contest: Tyler Kistner (R) / Angie Craig (DFL); 2020 result: Biden +7.4

NE-02: Incumbent: Don Bacon (first elected 2016); Contest: Don Bacon (R) / Tony Vargas (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.4

NV-01: Incumbent: Dina Titus (first elected 2012); Contest: Mark Robertson (R) / Dina Titus (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.7

NV-03: Incumbent: Susie Lee (first elected in 2018); Contest: April Becker (R) / Susie Lee (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.7

NH-01: Incumbent: Chris Pappas (first elected 2018); Contest: Karoline Leavitt (R) / Chris Pappas (D); 2020 result: Biden +5.7

NM-02: Incumbent: Yvette Herrell (first elected 2020); Contest: Yvette Herrell (R) / Gabe Vasquez (D); 2020 result: Biden +5.7

NY-03 (open): Incumbent: Thomas Suozzi (ran for governor); Contest: George Santos (R) / Robert Zimmerman (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.5

NY-17: Incumbent: Sean Patrick Maloney (first elected 2012); Contest: Michael Lawler (R) / Sean Patrick Maloney (D); 2020 result: Biden +10.1

NY-19 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Marc Molinaro (R) / Josh Riley (D); 2020 result: Biden +4.7

NY-22 (open): Incumbent: John Katko (retiring); Contest: Brandon Williams (R) / Francis Conole (D); 2020 result: Biden +7.6

NC-13 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Bo Hines (R) / Wiley Nickel (D); 2020 result: Biden +1.8

OH-01: Incumbent: Steve Chabot (first elected 2010); Contest: Steve Chabot (R) / Greg Landsman (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.6

OH-13 (open): Incumbent: Tim Ryan (ran for U.S. senator); Contest: Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R) / Emilia Sykes (D); 2020 result: Biden +2.8

OR-05 (open): Incumbent: Kurt Schrader (lost primary); Contest: Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R) / Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.9

OR-06 (open): Incumbent: new Seat; Contest: Mike Erickson (R) / Andrea Salinas (D); 2020 result: Biden +13.7

PA-07: Incumbent: Susan Wild (first elected 2018); Contest: Lisa Scheller (R) / Susan Wild (D); 2020 result: Biden + 0.6

PA-08: Incumbent: Matt Cartwright (first elected 2012); Contest: Jim Bognet (R) / Matt Cartwright (D); 2020 result: Trump +2.9

PA-17 (open): Incumbent: Conor Lamb (ran for U.S. senator); Contest: Jeremy Shaffer (R) / Chris Deluzio (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.0

RI-02 (open): Incumbent: Jim Langevin (retiring); Contest: Allan Fung (R) / Seth Magaziner (D); 2020 result: Biden +12.7

TX-28: Incumbent: Henry Cuellar (first elected 2004); Contest: Cassy Garcia (R) / Henry Cuellar (D); 2020 result: Biden +7.2

TX-34 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Mayra Flores (R) / Vicente Gonzalez (D); 2020 result: Biden +15.7

VA-02: Incumbent: Elaine Luria (first elected 2018); Contest: Jen Kiggans (R) / Elaine Luria (D); 2020 result: Biden +3.1

VA-07: Incumbent: Abigail Spanberger (first elected 2018); Contest: Yesli Vega (R) / Abigail Spanberger (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.3

WA-08: Incumbent: Kim Schrier (first elected 2018); Matt Larkin (R) / Kim Schrier (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.9

LEAN DEMOCRATIC 

AK-AL: Incumbent: Mary Peltola (first elected 2022); Contest: Nick Begich (R) / Sarah Palin (R) / Mary Peltola (D); 2020 result: Trump +10.5

AZ-04: Incumbent: Greg Stanton (first elected 2018); Contest: Kelly Cooper (R) / Greg Stanton (D); 2020 result: Biden +10.7

CA-09: Incumbent: Josh Harder (first elected 2018); Contest: Tom Patti (R) / Josh Harder (D); 2020 result:  Biden +12.7

CA-47: Incumbent: Katie Porter (first elected 2018); 2020 result: Scott Baugh (R) / Katie Porter (D); 2020 result: Biden +11.9

CO-07 (open): Incumbent: Ed Perlmutter (retiring); Contest: Erik Aadland (R) / Brittany Pettersen (D); 2020 result: Biden +14.5

IL-13 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Regan Deering (R) / Nikki Budzinski (D) ; 2020 result: Biden +11.3

IL-14: Incumbent: Lauren Underwood (first elected 2018); Contest: Scott Gryder (R) / Lauren Underwood (D); 2020 result: Biden +11.7

MD-06: Incumbent: David Trone (first elected 2018); Contest: Neil Parrott (R) / David Trone (D); 2020 result: Biden +10.0

MI-03 (open): Incumbent: Peter Meijer (lost primary); Contest: John Gibbs (R) / Hillary Scholten (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.6

NV-04: Incumbent: Steven Horsford (first elected 2018); Contest: Sam Peters (R) / Steven Horsford (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.3

NH-02: Incumbent: Annie Kuster (first elected 2012); Contest: Robert Burns (R) / Annie Kuster (D); 2020 result: Biden +9.0

NY-04 (open): Incumbent: Kathleen Rice (retiring); Contest: Anthony D’Esposito (R) / Laura Gillen (D); 2020 result: Biden +14.8

NY-18: Incumbent: Pat Ryan (first elected 2022); Contest: Colin Schmitt (R) / Pat Ryan (D); 2020 result: Biden +8.5

OH-09: Incumbent: Marcy Kaptur (first elected 1982); Contest: J.R. Majewski (R) / Marcy Kaptur (D); 2020 result: Trump +2.8

OR-04 (open): Incumbent: Peter DeFazio (retiring); Contest: Alek Skarlatos (R) / Val Hoyle (D); 2020 result: Biden +13.4

LEAN REPUBLICAN

AZ-02: Incumbent: Tom O’Halleran (first elected 2016); 2020 result: Eli Crane (R) / Tom O’Halleran (D); 2020 result: Trump +8.4

AZ-06 (open): Incumbent: Ann Kirkpatrick (retiring); Contest: Juan Ciscomani (R) / Kirsten Engel (D); 2020 result: Biden +0.3

CA-41: Incumbent: Kevin Calvert (first elected 1992); Contest: Ken Calvert (R) / Will Rollins (D); 2020 result: Trump +1.0

CA-45: Incumbent: Michelle Steel (first elected 2020); Contest: Michelle Steel (R) / Jay Chen (D); 2020 result: Biden +6.3

FL-27: Incumbent: Maria Elvira Salazar (first elected 2020); Contest: María Elvira Salazar (R) / Annette Taddeo (D); 2020 result: Trump +0.6

IA-01: Incumbent: Mariannette Miller-Meeks (first elected 2020); Contest: Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) / Christina Bohannan (D); 2020 result: Trump +2.9

IA-02: Incumbent: Ashley Hinson (first elected 2020); Contest: Ashley Hinson (R) / Liz Mathis (D); 2020 result: Trump +4.5

IA-03: Incumbent: Cindy Axne (first elected 2018); Contest: Zach Nunn (R) / Cindy Axne (D); 2020 result: Trump +0.4

MI-10 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: John James (R) / Carl Marlinga (D); 2020 result: Trump +0.7

MT-01 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Ryan Zinke (R) / Monica Tranel (D); 2020 result: Trump +7.1

NJ-07: Incumbent: Tom Malinowski (first elected 2018); Contest: Thomas Kean Jr. (R) / Tom Malinowski (D); 2020 result: Biden +4.5

NY-01 (open): Incumbent: Lee Zeldin (running for governor); Contest: Nick LaLota (R) / Bridget Fleming (D); 2020 result: Biden +0.2

WA-03 (open): Incumbent: Jaime Herrera Beutler (lost primary); Contest: Joe Kent (R) / Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D); 2020 result: Trump +4.5

SAFE REPUBLICAN GAINS

FL-04 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Aaron Bean (R) / LaShonda Holloway (D); 2020 result: Trump +6.6

FL-07 (open): Incumbent: Stephanie Murphy (retiring); Contest: Cory Mills (R) / Karen Green (D); 2020 result: Trump +5.4

GA-06 (open): Incumbent: new seat; Contest: Rich McCormick (R) / Bob Christian (D); 2020 result: Trump +15.2

TN-05 (open): Incumbent: Jim Cooper (retiring); Contest: Andy Ogles (R) / Heidi Campbell (D); 2020 result: Trump +11.8


Holy croakano! We welcome your feedback, so please email us with your tips, corrections, reactions, amplifications, etc. at STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. If you’d like to be considered for publication, please include your real name and hometown. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, please specify.



STATSHOT                                                                              

Biden job performance

Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.3 percent
Net score: -9.9 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.3 points
Change from one month ago: ↑ 0.8 points 

[Average includes: Reuters/Ipsos: 41% approve-54% disapprove; Grinnell College/Selzer: 40% approve-52% disapprove; Monmouth: 39% approve-55% disapprove; NBC News: 45% approve-52% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve-53% disapprove; NPR/Marist College: 45% approve-52% disapprove; Marquette Law School: 45% approve-55% disapprove; USA Today: 44% approve-53% disapprove; CBS News: 46% approve-54% disapprove]

Generic congressional ballot 

Democrats: 45.7 percent
Republicans: 47.0 percent
Net advantage: Republican Party +1.3 points
Change from one week ago: Republican Party ↑ 0.5 points
Change from one month ago: Republican Party ↑ 2.9 points

[Average includes: Monmouth: 44% Democrat, 50% Republican; NYT/Siena: 45% Democrat, 49% Republican; USA Today: 45% Democrat, 49% Republican; Emerson: 45% Democrat, 45% Republican; Grinnell College/Selzer: 46% Democrat, 42% Republican; NBC News: 47% Democrat, 48% Republican; NPR/Marist College: 48% Democrat, 45% Republican; CNBC: 46% Democrat, 48% Republican]


TIME OUT: RIP, LUCIANNE GOLDBERG

My dear friend Jonah Goldberg lost his mother this week. But we are all a little poorer for her passing since she was one of the few public figures who truly made the world a more interesting and enjoyable place. Please give a moment to the charming, touching remembrance from John Podhoretz. Commentary: “Lucianne was maybe the most sheerly fun person I’ve ever known, full of high good humor and gossip and tales about everyone we ever knew in common, and plenty she only knew, and plenty everybody knew. What a storyteller she was, cynical and world-weary and finding the humor in just about everything. And she had an essentially comic view of the world, in which, in one way or another, we were either all fools or tummlers.”


SENATE CONTROL HINGES ON SPLIT-TICKET VOTERS
Washington Post:  “Ticket-splitters, on the decline for years as the country has grown ever more polarized, could be pivotal this year in several key battlegrounds, according to public polls, which show conspicuous gaps in performance between gubernatorial and Senate candidates of the same party. … In Pennsylvania, polls show Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman in close competition. But [Josh Shapiro] has a double-digit lead on Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano in a race that operatives of both parties acknowledge is far more lopsided. … In Ohio, polling shows Republican author J.D. Vance and Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in a close Senate race, while Mike DeWine, the GOP governor, leads his Democratic opponent, former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, by double digits. … Polling has consistently shown [Gov. Brian Kemp] leading his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, while [Herschel Walker] and [Raphael Warnock] are in a closer race.”

Blue team panic after Fetterman’s debate struggles: New York Times: “The debate performance on Tuesday night by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, left party officials newly anxious, injecting a fresh dose of unpredictability into one of the country’s most important contests less than two weeks before Election Day. … At times, Mr. Fetterman seemed to pause to seek the right words or offered a jumble of sentences to express his positions. In some cases, he contradicted himself or appeared to state the opposite of his actual view. … Mr. Fetterman’s performance thrust questions about health and disability into the center of the final weeks of a nearly deadlocked race. … One senior Democratic official in the state described an intense level of anxiety, and an awareness that the debate could be decisive. Republicans clearly saw an opening. ‘Fetterman proved he’s incapable of the physical and communication demands of the job,’ said former Representative Ryan Costello.”

Storm warning for Florida Dems: Politico: “Florida Democrats are bracing for a very bad night on Nov. 8. Less than two weeks before the election, Democrats are signaling that key races are slipping away from them. They point to ominous signs and missed opportunities, including the party’s message on abortion rights and gun control that isn’t resonating and a lack of coordination between the campaigns of Rep. Val Demings, who is vying to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, and Charlie Crist, who is challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis. … Most worrisome for Democrats, national organizations and donors have all but abandoned their candidates—setting off fears that Florida is no longer viewed as competitive. That would have dire implications for the next presidential election. … The sinking feeling among Democrats comes against the backdrop of DeSantis’ rise. … That cash advantage allowed DeSantis to spend more than $50 million on TV ads, dwarfing what Crist and Democrats could get on the airwaves.”

Upset alert: DCCC Chair Maloney in jeopardy: Politico: “Republicans first targeted House Democratic campaigns chief Sean Patrick Maloney’s blue district here in the Hudson Valley as an act of trolling their arch-nemesis. Now they’re taking their prospects seriously. And so is Maloney. … Swooping in to rescue their own campaigns chief is the last place Democrats wanted to be in the final days of the midterms. His struggles have led some in the party to rethink their tendency to elect swing-seat DCCC leaders, but for the moment Maloney’s just looking to hang on. … As for Maloney, most fellow Democrats agree they had no choice but to protect him in order to avoid a humiliating defeat for their campaign arm’s leader—and to hold a must-win seat. But his predicament has compounded the sense of frustration among some in the party about how their DCCC chief has handled the midterms.”

Drazan offers Oregon GOP first hope in decades: Wall Street Journal: “The last time Oregonians chose a Republican for governor was in 1982, when Victor Atiyeh was reelected when Ronald Reagan was president. Democrats now hold every statewide office in Oregon, and President Biden won the state by 16 percentage points in 2020. But many voters are frustrated with rising crime, entrenched homelessness and public drug use—particularly in Portland, the state’s largest city. … ‘We have major public policy challenges that the Democrats with single-party control have made worse, [Republican nominee] Christine Drazan said. [Democratic nominee] Tina Kotek has argued that Oregon can solve its problems without straying from progressive values. … Kotek supporters have said she probably would beat Ms. Drazan head-to-head, but [Betsy Johnson’s] candidacy, which has lost some momentum in recent weeks but which polls show is still attracting a significant share of voters, instead could put the Republican over the top.”

BRIEFLY

Too little, too late? Dems finally talk inflation on the stump—Wall Street Journal

Poll: Voters say democracy at risk, but not a top midterm issue—New York Times

Far from border, GOP campaigns highlight immigration—Wall Street Journal

Progressive Garza hopes for miracle against MAGA Paxton in Texas A.G. race—Politico

Sensing opportunity, GOP ignores extremism, recommits to New Hampshire Senate challenger Don Bolduc Axios

Majority or not, House Dems prep for next generation—NBC News

WITHIN EARSHOT: LAW OF AVERAGES 

“One criticism from an activist group or someone loud on Twitter, they’re like, ‘Elissa, we have to change this.’ I’m like, ‘What happened?’ And they’re like, ‘My activists are really getting upset.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, but your activists are not the average person.’”—Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a moderate Democrat from Michigan, talking to the WaPo about the difficulty making deals with her progressive colleagues.


MAILBAG

“A good friend and I are getting together on election night to watch the results come in because we’re nerds and love politics. How do we recommend we follow the results? I usually have Decision Desk HQ, local races results, and Twitter all pulled up. I’m not quite to the depth of knowledge as you or [Steve Kornacki], but want to get the most out of the night. Would love to know your thoughts on how best to follow along and good election night eats you enjoy.”—Matthew Grove, Nashville, Tennessee

You are in luck, Mr. Grove! There’s an easy answer: NewsNation is partnering with Decision Desk HQ to project races on election night. You’ll be able to get their cutting-edge forecasting and my on-air analysis, as Lionel Richie would say, all night long. (You can find NewsNation on your local cable provider here.) Your last question—what to eat—is a tougher one, though. It depends on what kind of night we have. If it’s a Republican blowout, you can go heavy early and start with pizza, burgers, or tacos right out of the gate, finish with ice cream and be confident in the knowledge that you can be in a carb coma by 11 p.m. If Democrats have a good night, however, it’s going to take a long time. Then you’re going to want to keep it light and snacky. Some crudite for Dr. Oz, perhaps? Pork rinds and pimento cheese for Georgia? Casino-style shrimp cocktail for Nevada? One election-night tradition I will definitely be keeping this year will be gobs of candy to maintain energy for race calls. Twizzlers, Peachie Os and Heath bars for everyone, Bit-O-Honey for me alone.


You should email us! Write to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM with your tips, kudos, criticisms, insights, rediscovered words, wonderful names, recipes and, always, good jokes. Please include your real name—at least first and last—and hometown. Make sure to let me know in the email if you want to keep your submission private. My colleague, the canny Nate Moore, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack!




CUTLINE CONTEST: GATOR BAITED  

Sometimes, when you get a picture as fundamentally funny as this one, the best thing to do is just let it breathe. A very serious Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis  in front of an alligator sign is doing the work for you. (Also,  DeSantis needs a more menacing-looking gator for the sign. The rattlesnake of the Gadsden Flag looks menacing, this reptile looks like he’s waiting to be fed.) Our winner went straight down the fairway on this one to good effect. Remember, this week is your last week to enter the October contest, so don’t delay!

Winner: 

“So, I picked up an alligator that was *this big*. I tried to tread on it. It was then—THEN!—that I realized we should not tread on alligators.”—Tripp Whitbeck, Arlington, Virginia

Winner, Edible Enemies Division: 

“Guv’ner Ron brings his A-game to the annual gator wrestling convention and BBQ.”—Mary Stine, Prairie Village, Kansas

Winner, Gale Garnett Division:

“We’ll sing in the sunshine!”—Phil Kruger, Sante Fe, New Mexico

Winner, Liddle Marco Division:

“See! My hands are at least twice as big as Donald’s.”—Katie Moore, Wilson, Wyoming

Winner, Airport Sheraton Conference Room Division “Governor Desantis prepares to unveil step three of his master plan: Profit!!!”—Jack Funke, Poplar Bluff, Missouri

Send your proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of this newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the top entrants and an appropriate reward for the best of this month—even beyond the glory and adulation that will surely follow. Be hilarious, don’t be too dirty, and never be cruel. Include your full name and hometown. Have fun!

Nate Moore and Lily Nelson contributed to this report.

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the politics editor for NewsNation, co-host of the Ink Stained Wretches podcast, and author of Broken News, a book on media and politics.