Is a Democratic Majority in the House Possible?

With Clinton ahead in Republican districts, it just might be.

It has long been acknowledged that the Senate seats up for election in 2016 provide an opportunity for Democrats to gain the majority. But conventional wisdom has suggested that it is improbable that they could also win a majority in the House. Given the potential for a landslide in the presidential election, is that wisdom now questionable? Conservative John Podhoretz thinks so.

The same is true in the House of Representatives: A wave could net Democrats the 32 seats they’d need to take control there.

Republican consultant Adrian Gray reports that in his modeling of the race, Hillary Clinton is ahead in 54 Republican-held House districts, while Trump is ahead only in 3 Democratic districts. If this persists, and is bolstered by a Clinton margin over Trump of greater than 8 points, it’s bye-bye House.

Coming from the other side of the aisle, Democratic Party officials seem to agree.

Clinton is posting double-digit leads in several vulnerable Republican districts including Rep. Bob Dold in Illinois, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, California freshman Rep. Steve Knight, Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado and Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo states.

“Donald Trump’s likely defeat in many swing districts will be a devastating anchor that drags down House Republicans all across the country,” wrote DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward.

Personally, I’m a bit skeptical. With 435 seats up for grabs and polling that is either suspect or non-existent, these folks are relying on Clinton’s lead in Congressional districts. That might or might not be predictive.

What I can rely on is what I’m seeing on the ground in my own state. Minnesota is typically described as a “blue state” because we have voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1960 – with one exception in 1972. Right now 3 of the 8 Congressional districts are represented by Republicans. One of those is the seat formerly held by Michele Bachmann – which indicates it’s reliably red. But the other 2 are pretty good examples of how Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s embrace of extremism could very likely flip them this fall.

Anne Kim recently wrote about the race in the 3rd Congressional district between incumbent Republican Eric Paulson and state Senator Terri Bonoff.

One Democratic strategist says the fissures within the Republican Party have created new opportunities for Democrats who can appeal to suburban “economic moderates.”…

This emerging dynamic is also propelling Democratic momentum in the western suburbs of Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN-03), is facing Democratic challenger and state Senator Terri Bonoff. Unlike New Jersey’s Garrett, Paulsen is somewhat more moderate, but Bonoff says her opponent can’t shake the taint of Trump.

“Minnesota already stands out as a state that rejects Donald Trump,” says Bonoff, who notes that the state was one of the few won by former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio. “Donald Trump is a caricature of an extremist at its worst,” Bonoff continues. “It provides an opening for a contrast, and that is why I’m running.”

I have written previously about the race in the 2nd Congressional district. In yesterday’s primary, Republicans affirmed their choice of radio shock-jock Jason Lewis (who Roll Call referred to as a “mini-Trump”) as their candidate to run against Angie Craig.

In the current climate, it is clear that both of these races are winnable by the Democratic candidates. That would give this state an 7 to 1 majority of Democrats in the House. That is in a state where 5 of the 8 districts typically “lean” Republican. Perhaps others are seeing similar possibilities on the ground in their home states. If so…it is very likely that we could see a Democratic majority in the House.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.