We’re Watching These 5 House Races This Election Day

We’re Watching These 5 House Races This Election Day

We’re Watching These 5 House Races This Election Day

The House of Representatives is within reach of Democrat control in this midterm election. We all know that means another round of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House (barring some dramatic upset there), and yet each race comes down to voter turnout on the local level, and how much voters associate individual candidates with their party leadership. Here are five races to be watching.

1) VA-7: Dave Brat (R-incumbent) vs. Abigail Spanberger (D)
Dave Brat scored one of the biggest upsets in 2014 when he defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary. He went on to win the general election, but is facing a race coined a “toss-up” this year. Brat is a solid conservative, Spanberger is a former CIA operations officer who will absolutely toe the Democrat line. Brat is confident, but this race is a lot closer than it should be. Is this race indicative of how people perceive House races, where federal government gets as close to the local level as possible? We will see. (For more analysis on Virginia, read Marta’s excellent post here.)

2) WA-8: Dino Rossi (R) vs. Kim Schrier (D)
This is an open seat that has been held by Republicans since it was created in the last round of redistricting. It’s also an area of Washington state that runs the gamut from upper middle class suburban to rural farmers. Dino Rossi has the name recognition in Washington state (having been robbed of the gubernatorial election in 2004), and is definitely a seasoned politician. Kim Schrier is campaigning on the fact that she is a pediatrician (she mentions it as much as John Kerry mentioned his Vietnam service in 2004) and “Medicare for all.” When the Seattle Times, not exactly a right-wing publication, endorses Rossi over Schrier, it tells you just how thin her platform is. And yet, we’re down to voter turnout and personal appeal yet again. This race is also ranked as a “toss up,” and if Democrats gain the seat, they will have a hard time holding on to it.

3) WI-1: Bryan Steil (R) vs. Randy Bryce (D)
This isn’t just any open seat in Wisconsin. This is the seat that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is vacating. Ryan has been campaigning for Steil, but Wisconsin can be unpredictable. The seat is currently ranked as “leans GOP,” but that seems very tight for the district that Ryan has represented for so long. And it seems that Democrats this year are obsessed with running on “single payer” healthcare.

In a debate between Steil and Bryce last week in Janesville, neither candidate wasted time shooting sparks at the other, particularly when it came to their vastly disparate views on national health-care policies (Bryce says he wants a single-payer health insurance system, and Steil vowed such a system would amount to a “government takeover” of health insurance).

Ryan, who has watched dogfights over congressional seats play out in countless elections in his 20 years in Washington politics, said he has learned the biggest secret in a campaign is to connect with individual voters, especially in the last days before an election.

“They want to elect somebody who fits their district well,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s simplest, late-inning campaign advice to Steil?

“Just make sure you’re you, and make sure they know you,” he said.

4) TX-2: Dan Crenshaw (R) vs. Todd Litton (D)
Another open seat, and one that’s leaning toward the GOP holding it, but no one outside of Texas had heard of Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL who was severely wounded and lost an eye to an IED in Afghanistan. That is, until Saturday Night Live decided to make a tasteless joke out of his eyepatch.


For his part, Crenshaw has remained classy about the entire incident.



At least one SNL cast member has realized that they went too far on that one, but we should probably thank them – it gave serious name recognition to Crenshaw and has probably changed up the polling in that district dramatically. The person who really should be mad at SNL is Todd Litton, because they just sunk his chances of winning that seat.

5) WA-5: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-incumbent) vs. Lisa Brown (D)
We’re back in Washington state, because Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranking Republican woman in the House leadership. Her district is located in eastern Washington state, which is generally much more conservative than the western half of the state. But this race is marked as “leans GOP” because of the craziness of Washington state politics and Lisa Brown, a left-wing former state senator, has continually tied McMorris Rodgers to Trump. It’s a tried-and-true tactic, and one that worked for Republicans when Obama was president. Will it work here?

All the House races boil down to two essential factors – voter turnout, and whether voters hold individual candidates accountable or responsible for their party leadership. For Republican candidates, that means Trump. For Democrat candidates, that means Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – and the Kavanaugh hearings are still having an effect in the public’s mind. What does this mean for Election Day? It means every vote counts. Go and vote!

Featured image via Pixabay

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