Worksheet for the 2018 Midterms (Introduction)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground! –Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Election Day, 2018, is Tuesday, November 6, and 246 days is a long time in politics. Nevertheless, coverage is already so intense, and the outcome so potentially important — politically, economically, and in every way — that I feel the need to get my arms around the story now, rather than approach it, race by race, in onesies and twosies, over the coming months. Further, the power of what I can only call a reality distortion field, caused by the desire of many in the political and especially the professional classes to defeat Trump, is so great that I simply don’t trust the coverage (any more than I trust the coverage of any other subject where factions have put themselves on a war footing[1]). Next, throw a Red Scare and War Fever into the mix. Finally, the 2016 election was such a debacle for the establishments of both parties, and their respective allies in the press, that there’s no particular reason to do anything other than treat their views this time around with what filmmaker Sam Goldwyn called a dose of salts. And if I’m feeling this queasy now, imagine what things will be like, closer to the date! So, if only to preserve what remains of my sanity, I need to work my own sums. Hence this worksheet, which I will periodically update and expand, as explained below.

Here are the basic numbers to watch. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, this handy chart:

And so you don’t have to count the dots:

Democrats must flip 24 seats to take over the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans control the U.S. Senate, 51 to 49. There are 33 GOP governors, and their party controls 32 legislatures.

Just so we’re clear, I have a dog in this fight to the extent that I feel gridlock is our friend; if I had my druthers, the Democrats would win control of the Senate, and the Republicans would retain the House. That’s my preference because (by Article I, Section 2) the House has “the sole power of impeachment,” and impeachment (regardless of the outcome of the Senate trial), at least on my reading of the current, publicly available evidence, isn’t worth tearing the country apart for, which it would assuredly do.[2] Unfortunately for me, the electoral map makes it more likely than not that the Republicans will retain the Senate, while the House really does seem to be in play. (Here is a prediction that the Democrats will win the House with around 40 seats; here is a scenario of how the Republicans will retain their hold on it.)

Thus, I’ll scope the worksheet to cover only the House races (at least for now). But I can hardly cover all 435 House seats, so I need to limit my scope further; the obvious way to do that is to focus only on the seats the Democrats are likely to win. Readers know I have a weakness for old-time handicappers like Charles Cook or Stuart Rothenberg (and even, Lord help me, old-time operatives like Frank Luntz or Peggy Noonan, but that’s another story). At least I know where I am with the bourbon and cigars crowd, so I can try apply a proper discount to their projections (and their guesswork, and their intuitions). So I’m going to take a portion of the table developed by Rothenberg’s Inside Elections (here is the February 28, 2018 version) as my starting point, rework it, and then adapt as I go along. Here is the portion of that table for toss-ups, seats that tilt and lean Democrat, and seats that are likely Democrat (leaving out all the safe seats).

Table 1: Worksheet on House Races, Election 2018 (2018-03-05).

O’HalleranTilt D
AZ2ROpenMcSallyTilt D
BeraLikely D
MurphyLean D
CristLikely D
FL27ROpenRos-LehtinenLean D
PetersonLean D
NH1DOpenShea-PorterTilt D
GottheimerTilt D
NV3DOpenRosenTilt D
NV4DOpenKihuenLikely D
PA5ROpenMeehanLikely D
CostelloTilt D
PA7ROpenDentTilt D
CartwrightLikely D


Toss-ups: 10; Tilt D: 7; Lean D: 3; Likely D: 5

Note that the races to watch are in Pennsylvania[3] and Minnesota (4 seats), California, Florida, and New Jersey (3 seats), and then Arizona and Nevada (2 seats), trailed by New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia, and Washington (1 seat each). Of course, as we know even from comparing West Virginia (say) and Oklahoma, political cultures and establishments differ significantly across and between states.

Now, the table as it stands has very little explanatory power. However, with scope limited to a manageable degree (only 25 races, give or take over time) I can add columns. Columns to add might include:

  1. Primary challengers (illuminating intersections between DCCC/Blue Dog candidates, Sanders-inflected insurgents, etc.[4])
  2. Whether the district flippped from Obama to Trump
  3. Dominant industries in the districts (to see if we can do any reverse engineering of Thomas Ferguson’s “industrial structures,” especially with respect to dark money)
  4. Donors, television and social media campaigns
  5. Demographic and social characteristics of the districts
  6. Strengths and weaknesses of the candidates

And of course, as we go along, we can add and subtract candidates, change seats from “Tilt” to “Likely,” etc.

So this is quite a program of research, but given that I’ve scoped it properly and can plug away at it with periodic new releases (much as in 2016) we should have a reasonably nuanced view of the 2018 elections as we go along and fill out new columns. Readers, you can help in two ways. First, suggest areas for additional (and properly scoped) research. Second, if you live in any of these 25 districts, please share your views of the race from the “rough ground.” Thank you!


[1] For example, when polling becomes a sort of performative speech, we really are in trouble, aren’t we?

[2] Assuming House Speaker Pelosi doesn’t betray her base, as she did in the last Democrat wave election, 2006, and with unseemly haste, too.

[3] Hence Trump’s recent fixation on steel?

[4] I do not know whether, in general, insurgents are challenging Blue Dogs, especially incumbents, or not.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. blennylips

      It pains me to see good people (taking your word on Mr. Kovacs) with such a {family blog}-y web site! Your average user will not wait longer that 2 seconds for a page to load.

      With javascript disabled (my default) all one sees is a spinning circle! Not one word of text. That’s my locked down Palemoon.

      In my Chrome incognito (scripts allowed, but third party cookies vetoed) I get the same spinning wheel. Only when I load in straight off-the-shelf Chrome does it s.l.o.w.l.y load. What was the big wait for? Bog standard candidate page.

      I tried finding some old “A List Apart” essays for guidance with no luck.

      That long load is a killer.

      1. Clive

        I fear (and this is a common mistake for cheap and cheerful websites not developed by in house techies) that they have developed it for iOS or MacOS only. All way over here across the pond, it loads in a very sprightly fashion and all elements render properly — on iOS Safari. (I’ve not tried it in my more usual Windows / Edge browser).

        Maintaining a site to run in all OS’es and all browsers is a big, big overhead. Just ask Yves about the last time the Naked Capitalism stylesheet got a makeover. Luckily a lot of readers pitched in with beta testing and feedback.

        As you say, most potential supporters wouldn’t bother for a politician. And unless you’re Hillary, you don’t have the campaign dollars to throw around to get a top notch ad agency to do it all for you.

          1. Arizona Slim

            I got the spinning circle on this Linux-powered laptop. Next time I see Billy, I’ll tell him about the troubles that the NC crew is having with his site.

            1. Clive

              Give him our good luck, AZ sounds a tough patch if you’re even slightly to the left of General Pinochet.

              1. Arizona Slim

                Actually, it isn’t that difficult to win here. One of my friends, a pro-union progressive, is running for her second term in the AZ House of Representatives.

                Her secret? Going out and asking people for their votes. It really is that simple.

                During the previous election cycle, she walked the district, knocked on a lot of doors, and listened to what people had to say. If she wasn’t walking, she was out on her bicycle with her husband.

                Her website:

                1. blennylips

                  Now here is a page of beauty!

                  Loads instantly. Looks good with no javascript, nor referals beyond her own domain.

                  Enabling each adds incrementally to the view and functionality.

                  Bonus! In the source, I find a referral to “meta data profiles” at another site done right! No javascript at all and only refers to

                  gmpg == “Global Multimedia Protocols Group”


                  From a set of otherwise equivalent models, choose the simplest one. More commonly known as Occam’s razor. Simple parts should never get too powerful.

                  Implementations of protocols should be encouraged to interoperate. Thus GMPG has chosen to use the (cc) nd license restriction for its protocols and formats to reduce mutability into non-interoperable forms.

                  Human user centrism
                  Humans (especially users) first, machines second. Technologies must be first designed for ease of use (including authoring) and human understanding, and only second for ease of development and machine understanding.

                  So, thanks Arizona! Never would have found gmpg otherwise!

                  Put Billy in touch with Pamela.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > Going out and asking people for their votes. It really is that simple.

                  Yes. Go out and ask people what they want (not quite the same). That’s why — regardless of his politics or party fealty — I liked Buttegeig, because that’s exactly what he did.

            2. Daryl

              It works after I disabled my privacy program. I peeked and it looks like they are loading a bunch of different CSS/JS from all over the internet. Just at a glance I would say the problem is that it’s been overengineered; they’re using cloudflare in front of a wordpress install when it should probably be plain wp or a static site.

    2. DonCoyote

      I lived in Arizona’s 2nd for the majority of my life, and still have friends there.

      Just a reminder for most folks: Gabby Giffords was the rep here, and was shot in 2011. Ron Barber, who worked in her office and was also shot, won the special election and the 2012 election, in which he beat McSally by ~2400 votes. He lost to her in the 2014 election by 167 votes. And she vacated in January to run for the Senate (although this was expected since Flake resigned). So contested, yes. And primary elections are not until August. Democrat/Republican/Independent registrations are all about even.

      First, my opinion on the “Lean D”, which I assume comes from the Cook Political Report, is BS (although I believe it is a tossup). This is probably based on it going for HRC in 2016 by 5% after going R the last four elections (i.e. this is one of the few districts HRC flipped R to D). But I think, from some conversations I’ve had subsequently, that this was more “Never Trump”/”Lesser Evilism”, maybe a little from the Republicans but more from the Independents. And midterms, in which fewer people vote and it’s more about the actual candidates, is a whole other ballgame.

      Here’s some reporting from a few months ago, where 1) Team R was trying to avoid a primary (according to this site, it didn’t work, there are four other Republicans running); and 2) Republican Super PAC opened an office in the district and said “all options are on the table”, including involvement in the Democratic primary. (of course, the Clinton campaign did not invent the “Pied Piper” strategy).

      Here’s a story on a debate among six Dems running. Mary Matiella is the Justice Democrat candidate, although, as Arizona Slim noted, Billy Kovacs has some fairly progressive positions (including #MedicareForAll). See also a follow-up story on flip-flops from Kirkpatrick, the corporate/well-funded candidate, including support for Pelosi (she ultimately said she supports her, none of the other candidates did). Heinz ran (and lost badly) in 2016; Sherry is “openly gay”. I suspect, with such a range of Democratic candidates (and multiple progressive candidates), the corporate Democratic will win. But definitely worth keeping an eye on.

      1. edmondo

        Does anyone have any idea how the Justice Democrats/Our Revolution crowd pick their endorsees? AZ-2 is the second race I know of (TX-23 is another) where two candidates seem to hold very, very similar positions yet only one is “endorsed”. Is this another case of endorsing your friends and ignoring everyone else (al la Emily’s List)?

        Why not endorse every candidate who is endorsable?

        1. DonCoyote

          According to Justice Democrats,

          “All candidates are required to pledge not to take any corporate PAC or corporate lobbyist money. Additionally, they will be progressive candidates who generally agree with the Justice Democrats platform.” I’ve reached out to them on if if they would endorse more than one candidates, and, if not, how do they choose.

          Their platform (which seems like it was out together by a committee, but which I am posting for comment from anyone still reading this thread on “progressive platform or lack thereof”) – = Opposed, + = Support

          -Super PACS
          -Death Penalty
          +”Common-sense” gun regulation
          +Police Reform
          +Comprehensive immigration reform
          +Safety net (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security)
          +Paid vacation, sick time, family leave, childcare
          +Women’s rights (defend and protect)
          -Arms to human rights violators
          -Constitutional overreaches (warrantless spying, etc)
          -Bad trade deals
          +Universal Education as a right (no details)
          +Renewable Energy revolution
          +New New Deal
          -War on Drugs
          -Unnecessary Wars
          +Healthcare is a Universal Right
          +Living Wage tied to Inflation
          +Free Speech/Expression
          +Better/Fairer Tax Code

          1. Rebecca

            Our Revolution, unlike Justice Dems, is chapter-based. Chapters nominate candidates, and then the national org makes the final decision. If two chapters in the same jurisdiction disagree, then I believe OR will sit out the endorsement until after the primary.

            Justice Dems made an early nomination in my district (NY-19) whereas my Our Revolution chapter is still weighing and researching who to endorse in a crowded field. JD picked a candidate who shares Bernie’s platform and is running hard as Berniecrat, but advised the Clinton campaign, worked for the CIA, and has a longtime Clinton associate as a campaign advisor. There are at least two other candidates who have almost identical platforms, though not quite as on-point rhetoric. They are not without their flaws, either (one is close to Cuomo, the other very green to politics). We have no record of any of the three publicly supporting Bernie during the primary, though the ex-CIA candidate claims he did before advising Clinton.

  1. Altandmain

    I am wondering, would the Democratic Establishment really gridlock the US Congress?

    It is far more likely in my opinion that they will bend back and do what Trump wants, except where liberal virtue signalling is concerned.

    Certainly the Democratic Establishment has given Trump his attacks on civil liberties, his defence budget, and does not have the stomach for a long government shut down.

    It is far more likely that we will end up with a US Congress that is more submissive than the Democratic Establishment was to Bush after the 2006 Midterms. I guess there is the fact that the Democratic Establishment did note against the Trump tax bill and Obamacare repeal.

    From where I am standing, it seems only that the Berniecrats are worthy of voting for. If the Democratic Establishment loses this one, it might undermine the leadership of the DNC Chair, Perez.

    1. Livius Drusus

      Maybe this is wishful thinking but I do think that the Democrats might actually try to frustrate Trump. Unlike other Republicans the Democrats have been painting Trump as uniquely evil. They have practically called him a fascist. It will look very bad for the Democrats to then turn around and try to compromise with him on things that don’t relate to national security. Sadly, both parties are all in for war and surveillance these days and I suspect that many Americans agree with them so I don’t think we will see progress on those fronts any time soon.

      But you might be right. Maybe the Democrats will be submissive. It might depend on what kinds of Democrats they send to Washington. In 2006 there were many Blue Dogs in the Democratic delegation to Congress. In many areas these Blue Dogs have been replaced with Republicans. Maybe 2018 will be different.

      1. John k

        Will be?
        Democrats have voted for every single one of trumps awful appointments.
        The important thing to remember is that both parties compete to do the most for the same donors. The only places where dems dare to differ from reps on policy are the few places where donors mostly don’t give a damn… abortion, race and guns…
        Donors don’t depend on dems to win elections, their one job is to keep progressives from power; big o recruited Perez for just that. Absolutely no real, concrete benefits for the working class.

      2. John D.

        They painted Bush the Lesser as uniquely evil (while refusing to oppose him in any substantive way, natch, just as they’re not truly opposing Trump in any substantive way), and look what they’re saying about Junior these days.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I am wondering, would the Democratic Establishment really gridlock the US Congress?

      Both party establishments have tried for a Grand Bargain twice: Clinton and Gingrich (the Lewinsky matter intervened, thank you Monica, thank you, thank you), and Obama and Boehner (Freedom Caucus didn’t like the deal). That’s what I mean by gridock; the two parties cannot successfully combine to work against the rest of us; it’s not a linear process.

      (Another way to say this is that the Democrat Establishment could wish to sell us out with all their hearts, and still be unable to close the deal.)

  2. Kokuanani

    Lambert, since I know you’re just coasting lazily along, let me add an item to your watch list.

    I live in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. It includes the area of MD bordering PA and WV, so has been Republican for ages [neanderthal crackpot Roscoe Bartlett]. Bartlett finally retired, and the district was gerrymandered by the Democratic state legislature to pull in a sufficient number of Dems from the suburbs adjacent to DC to get a Dem elected: milk-toast John Delaney, the definition of a Blue Dog. [The gerrymander is the subject of a current lawsuit challenge; don’t know how or when that will resolve.]

    Now Delaney in his infinite wisdom has decided to run for President and was recently written up re his campaigning in Iowa. [Do not, under any circumstances vote for this fool.] Thus the seat is wide open come November.

    Although MD is considered a “blue” state, it has a Republican governor who’s up for re-election in 2018. He [Hogan] is popular. He won initially because the MD Dems were asleep and put up the weakest candidate ever [sound familiar?]. It’s likely that Hogan’s being on the ballot will draw out many Republicans, and perhaps give a stamp of non-craziness to other Republican candidates. As you can see from the above Baltimore Sun article, Republicans consider this a seat they could win, and I don’t disagree with that.

    Just thought you might want to add it to your chart under “toss-up” or “leans Dem.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      I have a friend who’s in the AZ House of Representatives. In that body, seating is by district. Which means that my very progressive friend could end up seated next to one of AZ’s bat[family blog] crazy Republicans.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I hate to keep quoting Parkinson’s Law, but dammit, it keeps being relevant:

      In France the initial mistake was made of seating the representatives in a semicircle, all facing the chair. The resulting confusion could be imagined if it were not notorious. No real opposing teams could be formed and no one could tell (without listening) which argument was the more cogent. There was the further handicap of all the proceedings being in French— an example the United States wisely refused to follow. But the French system is bad enough even when the linguistic difficulty does not arise. Instead of having two sides, one in the right and the other in the wrong— so that the issue is clear from the outset— the French form a multitude of teams facing in all directions. With the field in such confusion, the game cannot even begin. Basically their representatives are of the Right or of the Left, according to where they sit. This is a perfectly sound scheme. The French have not gone to the extreme of seating people in alphabetical order. But the semicircular chamber allows of subtle distinctions between the various degrees of rightness and leftness. There is none of the clear-cut British distinction between rightness and wrongness. One deputy is described, politically, as to the left of Monsieur Untel but well to the right of Monsieur Quelquechose. What is anyone to make of that? What should we make of it even in English? What do they make of it themselves? The answer is, “Nothing.”

      All this is generally known. What is less generally recognized is that the paramount importance of the seating plan applies to other assemblies and meetings, international, national, and local.

      That’s actually true. If you’re in a meeting, particularly in a small group setting, think through where to sit.

  3. dcblogger

    I would love to see a similar work sheet for Democratic primaries, for me that is the larger story. There are plenty safe Dem seats where there are lefty challengers, including Jaffe’s challenge of Pelosi. I am predicting two take overs, the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party will, in effect, take over the Democratic Caucus and the Democrats will take over the House. To take over the Democratic Caucus the Democratic wing of the Democratic party does not need a majority within the caucus (although that would be very nice) it just needs enough victories to put the fear of God into the rest of the caucus. If by some miracle Jaffe wins his race, expect to see a dramatic shift to the left.

    1. John k

      And the neolib Feinstein is being challenged, too. If revolution starts it will start in CA, electorate moving from useless liberal to useful progressive.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      As I said, columns to add might include:

      Primary challengers (illuminating intersections between DCCC/Blue Dog candidates, Sanders-inflected insurgents, etc.[4])

      I had to start somewhere!

  4. Eduardo

    “Note that the total number of seats in the worksheet is 25: Therefore, if the Democrats win all but one of these races, they win the House. Handy!”

    No. If they win 24 seats they would have flipped twelve seats since they already control twelve of them based on the ‘Party’ column. Or, am I confused?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh, sheesh. You’re right. Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for lambert.

      Adding, though, that makes the wave even harder. Democrats have to go even deeper into Republican territory than I thought. Let me get these 25 under control, then we’ll think about “expanding the map.”

  5. John k

    If the 25 is all the potential to go dem, and need 24, chances seem very small…
    first, all politics are local, some local things will happen in some that prevent flipping even with wave.
    Second, there are likely a couple of dem seats where something local will happen, and flip rep.
    Hope would be for some progressive dems to capture nom in red seats, and win with progressive message.

    Gridlock is friend with rep in WH… just a dozen more dems, particularly if progressive because won’t sell out their constituents, will make it more difficult for Ryan to pass bills.

    1. Filiform Radical

      Per Eduardo’s observation above, the outlook is actually much worse for the Dems than this. Even if they win everything more friendly than “Tilt Republican”, they still need 11 more seats. This means they have to win, in the easiest case, all but 2 of the “Tilt Republican” seats.

      If we assume the Inside Elections people are not completely off base, it seems like the Republicans are almost guaranteed to keep the House.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes. I’ll have to look deeper into Republican territory, thanks to the brilliant NC commentariat.

        As usual, I’m counter-suggestible to triumphalist coverage, especially on “the wave,” and it turns out that there’s an analytical basis for what (the biota in my) gut were trying to tell me.

        Of course, the definition of a wave is that safe seats become unsafe, “so there’s hope,” but the idea is to prove the thesis, not try to make it come true with performative speech.

        1. DonCoyote

          As published in both Links and Water Cooler (I think), <a href="Sean McElwee predicted 40 seat pickup for Team D (and does seem to be analyzing pickups not just wins). I like a lot of what Sean writes overall, but also think he is overoptimistic on several things, and I think his 40 seats is one. I think he overrelies on Republican represented districts that HRC carried as wins/potential wins, when House races in off year elections are different beasts. I don’t think he looked at the possibility of the D’s losing some seats, which I see as a virtual certainty. I think he is way off on NY (where Cuomo is working against D’s) picking up seven, and overemphasizes the progressive “wave” (which the DNC and DCCC are known to be working against) in other states. And what has Team D done about voter suppression (CrossCheck, gerrymandering, voter ID laws)? Precious little. So that’s still a factor.

          But I think what Lambert is attempting is ultimately more valuable. Whether the D’s take back the House or not, it’s the details that matter–who won in the primaries, against who, and why. I still find Lambert’s Matrix of Failure for HRC 2016 to be the most cogent thing written about her loss, but he got there (in part) by “sweating the small stuff”, by not stopping with the media-driven narratives. 2018, with a lot of smaller races, is harder to follow and the details matter even more.

  6. Ken in MN

    I live in MN-02. The preferred candidate of the Democratic establishment and 2016 nominee, Angie Craig, is running again in 2018. Despite raising and spending $4 million to now Congressman Jason Lewis’s “mere” $1 million, she underperformed Hillary Clinton by 4,000 votes in a district that has recently been trending blue in presidential elections, yet has been solidly held by Republican’ts since the 2002 election. Her Sanders-inspired opponent in the race for the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement is high school teacher Jeff Erdmann, who is running on a very progressive agenda. As expected, all of the Party insiders and professional activism organizations have endorsed Craig, the former medtech executive who for years ran her corporation’s PAC, which gave heavily to Mitt Romney in 2012 and Republican’ts in general. Obviously the consultancy class loves her because she will raise a ton of money and they will win whether or not she wins. (Don’t get me wrong, she’s a lovely person. But taking a putative Republican’t and slapping a big D next to his or her name has hardly been a winning strategy for Team Blue.) Erdmann, who has raised a respectable amount of money if this was 1990, has a huge hill to climb. In my humble opinion he has needlessly hampered himself by promising to abide by the Party’s endorsement, foregoing a primary run where he’d have a real shot of winning in a district that went overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 caucuses. Plus, if he did manage to win the primary, the DCCC and the DFL Party won’t give him a dime, preferring to lose to Lewis than to reward apopasty. (The state Party was part of the DNC scheme that sent all of the soft money that the Clinton Campaign allegedly raised for the state Parties right back to the Clinton Campaign, and all but a handful of the state’s super delegates pledged themselves to Clinton before any votes were cast.) This is also a district that has been highly unfavorable to Democrats in non-presidential years. Here are the margins of victory for Republican’ts, by non-presidential election year: 2002 – 5%, 2006 (Democratic Wave Election) – 16%, 2010 (Teabagger Armageddon) – 27%, 2014 (Teabagger Armageddon II) – 18%. Look for Craig to be a two-time loser. Look for Jason Lewis to laugh all the way to his Wall Street Bank. And I say all of this as a lifelong Democrat. I think talk of a Democratic wave is wishful thinking at its worst, especially if Democrats can’t cure themselves of their “TRUMP SUCKS!” campaign strategy, unless the economy crashes (and who in their right mind hopes for that?) or nuclear war breaks out (in which case the elections are moot).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If readers could be the form “MN-02” in their comments on House races in the midterms, that would be great.

      It will make it really easy to search on them!!!!

      Adding, thanks for the information on Minnesota. It sounds like a horror show.

      Also, I know Franken was a Senator, but is there any way his defenestration is indicative of the Minnesota Democrat Party establishment?

  7. Leftcoastindie

    I live in the CA-49 district and we have several Dem candidates:

    Douglas Applegate, 2016 candidate – Lost in a nail biter to Darrel Issa. Got torched with spousal abuse allegations late in the campaign which probably did him in. My guess if there is anything to the allegations he’ll be toast in the 2018 environment. Interesting take on gun control though – annual classroom instruction and tactical training and proof of such when purchasing ammo.

    Sara Jacobs – Granddaughter of billionaire Irwin Jacobs(co-founder of Qualcomm). Self funded to the tune of 1.1 million dollars. 29 years old and thinks she should be elected to Congress because she is a millennial from what I can tell. Light resume not sure where all the money came from at her age other than family. Clinton/Obama Democrat.

    Paul Kerr – Says he’s for Medicare for all. Free public college hits the right buttons. Sounds okay.

    Mike Levin – Same as Paul Kerr except his free college only extends to family incomes below 125K. Clinton like.

    California has a top 2 primary system so the 2 people with the highest percentage of the vote regardless of party are pitted against each other in the general.
    The main republican in the contest is Rocky Chavez a state senator who is number 2 in the polls right now. The others are bunched up in the single digits.
    If Applegate survives the abuse allegations it will probably be him running against Chavez.

      1. Leftcoastindie

        California essentially became a one party state back in 1994 when prop 187 passed. That was the proposition that banned illegal immigrant access to Medicaid or any other state supplied benefits and banned their children from schools. Needless to say that did not go over well with the Hispanic community and eventually was overturned in the courts. Other than Arnold Schwarzenegger the republicans haven’t done well since and that has carried down through the rest of the elected offices in state government.
        Even San Diego and Orange counties are beginning to turn blue – unthinkable 30 years ago.
        Many of those children then are the Dreamers of today and I doubt they would ever vote for a republican.

        As far as Top 2 goes I am somewhat surprised that Independents haven’t made more of an effort. I would think a top 2 primary system would have benefited them as well as third party candidates, but I haven’t seen any signs of it.

  8. dbk


    This is great, absolutely great.

    IL voter / politics follower here. The site to follow is CapitolFax, Rich Miller’s blog of IL politics. It’s excitingly down-in-the-weeds, but I’d be pleased to provide updates as the season progresses.

    The big race here is of course that for governor; more – probably much more – when you come to governors’ races.

    One district to watch is IL-03, where there’s a good possibility that a Blue Dog Dem, 7-term legacy Rep Dan Lipinski, will be defeated by a progressive Dem of the Jan Shakowsky (IL-09) / Luis Guittierez (IL-04) variety. Her name is Marie Newman.

    IL primary is coming right up on March 20, so I’ll report back whenever your posts provide an opportunity/opening.

  9. Stanley Dundee

    Lambert, great start!

    You might want to also consider NY-19. One-termer Repub John Faso faces a wide field of lackluster Dems. Faso beat carpet-bagging Zephyr Teachout in ’16. Tilts R according to Rothenberg. Lots of local post-Bernie activism there, e.g. Ulster People.

  10. UserFriendly

    I’d use this list for your house project. 7 R seats at least in likely D. Plus another 20R seats as toss ups.​

    ​ ​

    ​I could nag about this or that…
    For instance… MN-2 if Angie Craig wins the D primary like the establishment wants I don’t see it flipping.​ MN-3 is more suburban but has a reasonably liked GOP rep (unlike MN-2’s disliked by the establishment freshman rep), but I could see it flip if the anti Trump backlash builds. I haven’t heard anything about what flavor of dem is likely to be in the general yet.

    MN-1 and MN-8 are both currently held by dems, MN-8 is a solid progressive, Nolan who announced his retirement. If Trump’s Iron tarif goes through this will be a GOP pick up for sure as it is where the Iron Range is.

    MN-1 is a coin flip, GOP trending rural area, Dem Rep retired to run for Governor. If this were any other year but a wave I’d say it’s a GOP pick up, but the wave might save the dems especially if they get someone with a populist tinge. There are a couple candidates I’m keeping an eye on but they seem like long shots so far.

    1. UserFriendly

      MN has by far the most competitive races per number of districts again, 2016 we had 5 districts win by <10% and 4 districts cross party for Pres and Rep. I wouldn't be surprised with anything from 7D1R to 3D5R (and if we get another retirement 2D6R). (currently 5D, 3R).


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