CLOSINGS: View Closings

The 2018 playing field is tipping toward Democrats big time

The 2018 midterm elections aren't for another 271 days. But, the shape of the playing field on which the battle for c...

Posted: Feb. 9, 2018 5:51 AM
Updated: Feb. 9, 2018 5:51 AM

The 2018 midterm elections aren't for another 271 days. But, the shape of the playing field on which the battle for control of the House will be fought is beginning to form -- and it looks very, very problematic for Republicans.

On Thursday, the Cook Political Report, a leading non-partisan handicapping site, moved 21 House districts in favor of Democrats; Cook House editor David Wasserman suggests that still might underestimate Democrats' ceiling in terms of seat gains this fall.

"Most new district-by-district fundraising and polling numbers are downright terrible for Republicans, even in seats previously thought to be safe," writes Wasserman.

Those moves jibe with a series of changes CNN made to its own House ratings on Thursday -- with a handful of Democratic incumbents moving off the competitive list entirely and several Republican incumbents -- including New York's Claudia Tenney in more trouble.

There are now 66 GOP-held seats on CNN's list of competitive races as compared to just 15 for Democrats. Cook rates 67 Republican seats as competitive as compared to just 25 for Democrats.

Those numbers have to be scary for Republicans hoping to cling to their 24-seat majority. Why? Because what we've seen of late -- fueled by remarkably successful fundraising by dozens of Democratic candidates -- is an expansion of the ground where this election will be fought. And that expansion is entirely in Republican territory.

What that means in practical terms is that Democrats have more margin for error as they try to net two dozen seats. If a race they expected to be competitive suddenly collapses, it doesn't doom their chances as they now have 2, 3 or even 4 other seats to replace it.

The other potential impact of the widening of the playing field in Democrats' favor is that if there is a massive wave that sweeps the country -- and signs suggest something is building -- then the party could score massive gains as any even quasi-marginal seat falls to them.

(That, by the by, is what happened for Republicans in 2010 when they netted 63 seats including in some districts that not even the most optimistic Republican operative thought they had a chance to win.)

The point here is this: The election may feel like it is a long way away. But, the map on which Democrats and Republicans will fight is evolving in important ways as I type. And that evolution is all in favor of Democrats.

Article Comments

Mason City
Clear
-1° wxIcon
Hi: 6° Lo: -4°
Feels Like: -22°
Albert Lea
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 5° Lo: -4°
Feels Like: -17°
Austin
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 6° Lo: -3°
Feels Like: -17°
Charles City
Overcast
wxIcon
Hi: 9° Lo: -2°
Feels Like: -13°
Rochester
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 8° Lo: -4°
Feels Like: -17°
Snow will end overnight but bitter cold moves in behind it.
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

SNOW SHOVEL PRECAUTIONS

Image

Highlights: Rochester Grizzlies vs. Alexandria Blizzard from Friday

Image

Snow plows hard at work

Image

Battling road conditions

Image

Homeless in the snow

Image

Start of 6pm news

Image

Residents Remove Snow Early

Image

Uptick in Robocalls Amid Shutdown

Image

Friday Evening Stormteam 3 Forecast

Image

Drivers brave the snow-covered roads

Community Events