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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Nathan Gonzales: House Battleground Looks Split

From “Battleground looks evenly split in first House ratings for 2024: Biden would have won nine of 10 districts with Toss-up races” by Nathan Gonzales at Roll Call: 

While it took more than a year for the 2022 House battleground to come into focus because of redistricting, this cycle is less complicated. With district lines in place in the vast majority of states and one cycle worth of election results, it’s easier to identify most of the competitive seats where both parties will be spending their resources this cycle.

But Republicans’ narrow 222-213 majority means there’s still plenty of uncertainty about which party will control the House in 2025.

The initial House battleground comprises 66 competitive races, with each party defending 33 of the vulnerable seats. The symmetry is unintentional, and not necessary for nonpartisan analysis (remember the imbalance of the Senate battleground, where Democrats are defending eight seats and Republicans none). Rather, it’s more the result of an evenly divided Congress in an evenly divided country.

Technically, Democrats need a net gain of five seats for a majority. But that number obscures the added disadvantage Democrats will have if Republicans are able to draw new, friendlier congressional maps in Ohio and North Carolina. (Individual ratings in those two states’ 29 districts will be done after there’s more clarity on the redistricting situation and new maps.)

Joe Biden carried 11 of the 12 initial toss-up races in 2022, giving Democrats a path to the majority assuming the Democratic presidential nominee can match or exceed Biden’s 2020 performance. Democratic House candidates will likely need to replicate 2022, when they overperformed and won the vast majority of toss-up races.

It looks like Republicans have a narrow initial advantage to hold the House, but the top of the ticket will matter once again. In 2020, only 16 districts voted for a presidential candidate from one party and a House candidate from another. And just 23 of 435 seats voted for one party’s presidential nominee in 2020 and then the other party’s House nominee in 2022.

Gonzales also provides lists of district leanings for the following categories: Toss-Up; Tilt Democratic; Lean Democratic; Likely Democratic; and the same categories for the Republicans.

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