Diary

2018 Midterms- The Middle Atlantic States About One Year Out

Today, I look at the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

DELAWARE

  • One at-large district held by a Democrat
  • No primary or declared opposition challenger
  • Senate race: Tom Carper (D)- one primary challenger and one declared Republican challenger

No excitement here for the GOP.  No changes are expected.  With Trump’s approval at 38%, expect Democrats to hold their jobs.

MARYLAND

  • 8 districts- 7 Democrats and 1 Republican
  • 1 open race- 6th District (held by John Delaney-D)
  • Candidates in open race- 5 Democrats/ 1 Republican
  • Incumbents facing primary challengers- 2 Democrats (4th, 7th) and 1 Republican (1st)
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challengers- 5 (excluding open 6th)
  • Senate race: Ben Cardin (D)-  2 primary challengers/ 2 declared Republican candidates

If the GOP has any chance, it would be the 6th District which, after reapportionment, was drawn closer to DC giving the Democrats the advantage.  The race has so far drawn five Democrats and one Republican (with many on both sides “considering”).   Still, it may be a stretch to win this district, but with the right candidate, message and dynamics, who knows?  Stay tuned on this one…

Ben Cardin is the Democratic incumbent up for reelection and he isn’t going anywhere.  He will face two primary opponents (one a felon, another a poet) and two Republicans have declared their candidacies.

NEW JERSEY

  • 12 districts- 7 Democrats/ 5 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing primary challenges- 2 Republicans/ No Democrats
  • Incumbents facing declared opposition challenges- all 5 Republicans/ 1 Democrat
  • Senate race- Robert Menendez (D)- 1 declared primary challenger and 1 declared Republican candidate

For the Democrats, their most likely target is the 7th District with an outside chance in the 11th.  If the GOP is going to target any district, it will be the recently lost 5th where a Democratic freshman holds the seat, especially now that former gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Lonegan (R) has entered the race (and probably would have made a better Governor than Christie).

Robert Menendez is the Democratic incumbent Senator up for reelection and thus far faces token primary and general election opposition.  Hence, he will enjoy a cakewalk back to DC.

NEW YORK

  • 27 districts- 18 Democrats/ 9 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing primary challenges- 3 Democrats/ 3 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challengers-  8 (of 9) Republicans and 2 (of 18) Democrats
  • Senate race- Kirsten Gillibrand (D)- no primary challengers/ 2 declared Republican candidates

If Democrats wish to make any appreciable gains in the House overall, their performance in New York will be important.

For the GOP’s 9 districts, only one incumbent faces a competitive primary, but there are declared Democratic opponents in eight of the nine districts.  Four of the nine districts are vulnerable to loss:  Lee Zeldin in the Long Island-based 1st, John Faso in the Hudson Valley-based 19th, Claudia Tenney in the centrally located 22nd and the 24th (John Katko) in the northern part of the state.  Keeping three of these four in Republican hands could be considered a good night for the GOP in New York.

Kirsten Gillibrand is the Democratic incumbent Senator up for reelection who has two declared Republican opponents although neither has a realistic chance.

PENNSYLVANIA

  • 18 districts- 13 Republican/ 5 Democratic
  • Incumbents facing primary challengers- 2 Republicans/ 0 Democrats
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challengers- 11 (of 13) Republicans/ 1 (of 5) Democrats
  • Senate race: Bob Casey (D)- 2 primary challengers/ 8 declared Republican challengers

Only five of this state’s 18 districts are in Democratic hands and all are urban-based in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.  However, thus far Republicans are fielding a candidate in only one of those five districts- the 17th.

Probably the most vulnerable Republicans are the 6th (Ryan Costello) and the 8th (Brian Fitzpatrick) with the 8th being more likely.  However, the Democrats have yet to find an opponent there to challenge the GOP incumbent.  It is possible that one of these two districts will flip to Democratic control this cycle.

Bob Casey is the Democratic incumbent Senator up for reelection.  He has drawn two primary opponents, neither of which is any risk to Casey.  There are a surprising eight declared GOP candidates in the primary with perhaps only two with a serious chance.  Casey has a 49% approval rating (against 29% unfavorable) while Trump’s approval in the state hovers around the magic mark of 45% at 43%.  Taken together, should the GOP field a decent candidate, this race may be closer than most predict, but Casey should prevail.

WEST VIRGINIA

  • 3 districts- all Republican
  • Open race- 3rd district- Evan Jenkins (R) running for Senate
  • 4 declared Republican and 4 declared Democrats in open race
  • 1 incumbent facing primary challenge/ both facing declared opposition party challengers
  • Senate race- Joe Manchin (D)- 2 Democratic primary challengers/ 5 declared Republican challengers

 In the open 3rd, four Republicans and four Democrats have declared their candidacy to date.  This is coal country in the southern part of the state and is considered safely Republican.

The Senate race should be most interesting to watch in 2018 as Democrat Joe Manchin seeks reelection.  He sports a 57% approval rating in a state that gives Trump a 60% approval rating.  West Virginia has steadily lurched into red state status.  With the entry of Evan Jenkins into the race on the GOP side, this may be one of the best Senate races on 2018.  I would rate this race a toss up at this point.

The key for the Democrats in this area is New York.  Keep an eye on the House races in 2018 on election night.  An early loss in the 1st District by Lee Zeldin may very well tell how the rest of the night goes for the GOP not only in New York, but elsewhere.

Next in the series: The West Coast