The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report on Thursday shifted its forecasts for five competitive House races in favor of Democrats.
The changes follow a spike in Democratic voter enthusiasm following the Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned the landmark federal abortion rights protections in Roe v. Wade, Cook Report senior editor Dave Wasserman wrote. Democrats have outperformed expectations in every special election since the ruling.
They also also come as Republicans, some of whom predicted a potentially record “red wave” election year, have tempered expectations about the midterm elections this year.
Last week, a separate Cook Political Report analysis said Republicans still look like the favorites to win control of the House in the midterm elections. But the publication revised its forecast down from Republicans winning 15 to 30 seats to winning 10 to 20 seats.
The five House districts Cook shifted on Thursday are:
Alaska’s at-large district, from Likely R to Toss Up
The change comes after former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin lost a special election to Democrat Mary Peltola in the state’s first election using a new ranked choice voting system.
It was the first time a Democrat had been elected to the seat since 1971.
The two of them, as well as Republican Nick Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye, will be on the general election ranked-choice ballot in November for a full term in the same seat.
Arizona’s 4th District, from lean Democratic to likely Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton will face Republican Kelly Cooper, a Marine veteran who was endorsed by Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.
Wasserman writes that, “Cooper, a Marine veteran who owns BKD’s Backyard sports bar and has questioned the integrity of the 2020 election, might be too far right for this left-trending, Biden +10 Tempe seat.”
Maryland’s 6th District, from lean Democratic to likely Democratic.
Democratic Rep. David Trone, founder of Total Wine & More, has pumped his campaign with $10 million after his panhandle district became less Democratic due to redistricting. He faces Republican state Del. Neil Parrott.
“Any Republican scenario for ousting Trone likely involved a Larry Hogan-esque performance in the governor’s race at the top of the ticket. But that went out the window when state Del. Dan Cox, whom Hogan has called ‘not, in my opinion, mentally stable,’ won the GOP primary,” Wasserman said.
New York’s 3rd District, from toss-up to lean Democratic.
In the open Long Island seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D), who unsuccessfully ran for governor, Democratic National Committee member Rob Zimmerman will face Republican George Santos.
Virginia’s 7th District, from toss-up to lean Democratic.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) will face Republican former police officer Yesli Vega for the suburban Northern Virginia seat.
Spanberger has long been considered one of the more vulnerable Democrats in the House, and this year’s redistricting process shifted her seat away from the areas where she had the strongest support.
But an audio recording reported by Axios in which Vega expresses openness to the idea that it might be harder for women to get pregnant after rape, remarks that came just as the abortion issue was heating up, were thought to be a major help to Spanberger, who also holds a financial edge.