The Battle for the House in 2016: August News

With several primaries out of the way, some polling data is trickling in regarding House races.  The following is a review of some of the more interesting races in the country this year:

CA-10:  Mike Eggman lost by 12 points in the 2014 GOP wave to incumbent Jeff Denham and he is hoping that presidential coattails will give him an added boost this year.  Trump is trailing Clinton by 13 points in this district that Obama took in 2012 by 4 points.  Polls show Eggman down by anywhere from 2-6 points at this stage which is too close for comfort.

CA-49:  In the top-two primary, Democrat Doug Applegate came in second against GOP incumbent Darrel Issa, but lost by only six points.  The DCCC then released a poll showing a tie in the general election and a more recent internal poll by Applegate puts Issa up by only three points.  Additionally, independent surveys show Clinton winning this district by 5 points.  The problem for Issa may be independent voters and undecideds.  Among undecided voters, more identify as Democrats.

KS-01:  A lot has been made of the primary defeat of GOP incumbent Tim Huelskamp, a very conservative member of the House Freedom Caucus.  In fact, John Boehner basically celebrated his defeat at the hands of the more establishment Roger Marshall.  Huelskamp drew the ire of the GOP given his more principled stances against corporate welfare, especially in the agriculture sector in an agricultural state.

Marshall will win the general election because this is a very red district.  Some outlets are using this race to support the notion of the GOP establishment flexing their muscles.  While that is debatable, the dynamics within this district are probably more to blame than any resurgence of the GOP establishment.

MI-10:  Retiring GOP incumbent Dan Benishek endorsed Tom Casperson as his replacement.  However, relying on a network of conservative activists and his own money, Jack Bergman won the GOP primary.  Casperson would have likely given the Democrats greater heartburn since he had the backing of labor unions.  Bergman’s candidacy just adds a little intrigue here.

MN-03:  Democrats were excited to recruit state senator Terri Bonoff to run against GOP incumbent Erik Paulsen.  But the most recent poll show Paulsen with a 57-31 lead, although Clinton leads by nine points over Trump in this district.

NV-03: This open GOP seat being vacated by Joe Heck should be a decent race.  In June, the Democrats released a poll showing their candidate, Jacky Rosen, with a 6-point lead.  It took the Republican candidate, Danny Tarkanian, two months to respond with his own poll which shows him up by 12 points.  The more likely scenario is someone winning by about three points here.  Who is anyone’s guess at this time.

NY-19:  John Faso, the Republican candidate for this open GOP seat, is out with a poll showing him with a 6-point lead over Democratic opponent, Zephyr Teachout- the candidate with the best name this year (except for Wanna Dube in Missouri).  Obama won this district in 2012.  Faso had to endure an expensive and tough primary while Teachout reserved money for November.  By the way, Teachout has the backing of the Democratic establishment and Bernie Sanders (a rare feat), but only recently moved to this district.

PA-09: In probably the strangest twist this campaign season, Republican incumbent Bill Shuster defeated Tea Party favorite Art Halvorson in the GOP primary in a close race.  Thanks to a concerted write-in effort, however, Halvorson won the Democratic primary where they fielded no candidates.  Halvorson has decided to accept the Democratic Party’s bid and will run as a Democrat against Shuster in November…even though he is a Republican…even though he is a Tea Party Republican.

This is the reddest congressional district in the state and if Halvorson could pull in some conservatives who gave him 49.5% of the vote in the primary along with uninformed Democrats who will pull the lever for anyone with a “D” after their name, God knows what can happen.  The hardest part will be winning the independents and informed Democrats.

The following is my race rating chart.  It foretells a 14-17 seat GOP net loss of seats in the House in November.

Probably Safe Keep Close Eye On Battleground
J. Denham CA-10 Darrel Issa CA-49 Martha McSally AZ-01
Fred Upton MI-06 Mike Coffman CO-06 Steven Knight CA-23
(Tim Benischek-MI-01) (D. Webster- FL-10) OPEN Dave Jolly- FL-13
Scott Garrett NJ-05 Rod Blum- IA-03 Carlos Curbelo FL-26
Elise Stefanik- NY-21 Tim Whalberg- MI-7 Bob Dold IL-10
Dave Reichert- WA-08 (Candice Miller MI-10) OPEN Mike Bost IL-12
Erik Paulsen MN-03 David Young IA-03
Frank LoBiondo- NJ-02 Bruce Poliquin ME-02
Tom MacArthur NJ-03 Dave Trott MI-11
Joe Katko- NY-24 (John Kline- MN-02) OPEN
Ryan Costello PA-06 (Joe Heck NV-03) OPEN
(Randy Forbes VA-04) OPEN Frank Guinta NH-01
Barbara Comstock VA-10 Lee Zeldin NY-01
(Chris Gibson NY-19) OPEN
(Richard Hanna- NY-22) OPEN
(John Fitzpatrick PA-08) OPEN
Bill Hurd- TX-23
(Scott Rigell VA-02) OPEN
(Reid Ribble WI-08) OPEN
Probably Safe Keep close eye on Battleground
John Garamendi CA-03 Ami Bera CA-07 (Ann Kirkpatrick AZ-01) OPEN
Pete Aguilar CA-31 (Lois Capps CA-24) OPEN Krysten Sinema AZ-09
Mark Takano CA-41 Scott Peters CA-52 Raul Ruiz CA-36
Elizabeth Esty CT-05 (Scott Murphy FL-18) OPEN (Gwen Graham FL-02) OPEN
(Corrine Brown- FL-05) OPEN Tim Walz MN-01 Colin Peterson MN-07
(Alan Grayson FL-09) OPEN Brad Ashford NE-02
(Tammy Duckworth IL-08) OPEN (Steve Israel-NY-03) Open
Bill Foster IL-11 Sean Maloney NY-18
Rick Nolan MN-08
(Ruben Hinojosa TX-15) OPEN