DemDaily: US House: Top Tier Targets II. The Democrats

September 28, 2022

There are more than three dozen heavily contested races that will decide control of the US House of Representatives in one of the most high-stakes midterm elections in modern history.

With the current partisan breakdown at 222 Democrats to 213 Republicans, the GOP will have to win a net gain of five seats to take over Congress' lower chamber in November.

See DemDaily: US House: The Political Landscape and Race Ratings 9/20/22

DemDaily: DemDaily US House: Top Tier Targets I. The Democrats (Alaska to New Jersey) 9/22/22

Although Democrats may have entered the 2022 election cycle as the underdogs, recent shifts in the political winds have buoyed their chances of diminishing the normal midterm losses incurred by the party in the White House.

Of our top 24 most vulnerable Democrats, eleven of them hailed from the class of 2018, when Democrats flipped 41 seats in the midterms under the administration of Donald Trump.

To keep you informed, to follow is the second in a series of Dailys highlighting the top-tier targets by both parties.

Top Targets II: Democrats
Nevada to Wisconsin

Nevada 03
Congresswoman Susie Lee was first elected in 2018 with 52% of the vote, succeeding now-US Senator Jackey Rosen. She was reelected in 2020 by 3% in a district Biden won by 0.2%.

Redistricting gave the battleground seat a slight, D+1 edge. The last public polling, however, conducted July 23-29, 2022 by RMG Research, showed Republican nominee and Las Vegas attorney April Becker leading Lee 44% to 41% (MOE: ± 4.9%)

New York 19
Attorney and former congressional staffer Josh Riley (D) is facing former Mayor of Tivoli, former State Assemblyman and current Dutchess County Executive Mayor Marc Molinaro (R).

Molinaro lost the closely watched August 23 19th CD special election to Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D), 51.1% to 48.9%, in his quest to fill the seat vacated by now-Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado (D).

After redistricting divided the mid-Hudson Valley congressional district, however, Ryan opted to run in the new 18th CD, while Molinari opted for the new 19th, despite its slight shift from R+4 to even D/R.

In an August 27-September 2, 2022 RMG Research survey, Riley led Molinaro 44 to 41% (MOE: ± 4.9%).

The Cook Report's Partisan Voting Index (PVI) measures how each district performed at the 2016 and 2020 presidential levels, on average, compared to the nation as a whole. So a score of D+2 means the CD performed two points more Democratic in terms of the two-party vote share than the rest of the country.

Ohio 13
In the open 13th District vacated by Congressman Tim Ryan to run for US Senate, former Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D) is facing Trump-backed attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert. who won the seven-candidate GOP primary with 28.6%.

The Youngstown-based district, which voted for Biden 51%-47% in 2020, went from a D+1 to R+1 after redistricting.

Oregon 05
In the 5th District, progressive attorney and 2020 Secretary of State candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated seven-term incumbent Kurt Schrader, 54.6% to 44.9% to win the May 17 Democratic primary.

Although Schrader was re-elected with 51.9% of the vote in 2020, his district underwent major changes after Oregon gained a seat, moving away from the coast and east of Salem, and taking in Deschutes County. The Democratic lean, however, remained D+2 under the new congressional map.

McLeod-Skinner faces GOP nominee and former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who, according to a September 1-8, 2022 Global Strategy Group survey, is trailing McLeod-Skinner 38% to 41% (MOE ± 4.9%).

Pennsylvania 07
First elected in 2018, Congresswoman Susan Wild is among the GOP's top targets after her Lehigh Valley seat became more conservative (R+2) after redistricting.

She is being challenged by former Lehigh County commissioner Lisa Scheller in a rematch of their 2020 contest in which Wild defeated Scheller 51.9% to 48.1%. In a July 31-August 5, 2022 RMG Research survey, Scheller led Wild, 47% to 43% (MOE: ± 4.9%).

Pennsylvania 08
Five-term Democrat Matt Cartwright is once again defending his seat against former Export-Import Bank Vice President Jim Bognet, whom he defeated in 2020 by 3.6 points. The Scranton-based 8th CD was one of seven districts that voted for Donald Trump (by 4.4 points) in the 2020 presidential election while being held by a Democrat.

Bognet, who won the competitive six-candidate June 2, 2022 GOP primary with 28.4%, released a September 6-8, 2022 Cygnal poll that shows him tied 48% to 48% (MOE: ± 4.46%) with Cartwright in what is now an R+4 district.

A more recent September 12-15, 2022 poll conducted by GQR Research for Cartwright's campaign, shows the incumbent leading Bognet, 52% to 46% (MOE: ± 4%).

Pennsylvania 17
In the open seat being vacated by Conor Lamb, who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for US Senate, Chris Deluzio, an attorney and policy director at the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, is the Democratic nominee. He faces Republican nominee and former Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer.

The Beaver County-based district shifted slightly in favor of Democrats to a now evenly split district. The last public poll, conducted July 18-21, 2022 by Lake Research Partners showed Deluzio with a slender 43%-42% lead over Shaffer (MOE: ± 4.9%)

A September 23-25, 2022 Morning Consult survey of likely voters showed Democrats hold an advantage over their Republican counterparts on the generic ballot, 48% to 44%, with another 7% undecided (MOE: ± 1%).
A September 18-21, 2022 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 47% of adults preferred a Republican candidate to 46% for a Democrat (MOE: ± 3.5%).

Texas 15
In the open McAllen-based 15th Congressional District, businesswoman Michelle Vallejo (D) is facing Insurance agent and Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz.

Del La Cruz ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Democratic Vicente Gonzalez in 2020, who defeated her 50.5% to 47.6% in the 15th CD. Gonzalez, however, is now running in the new 34th Congressional District, which went from D+2 to D+9 after redistricting. The new 15th has an R+1 lean.

The last public polling, conducted July 22-29, 2022 by RMG Research, had Vallejo at 40% to De La Cruz's 44% (MOE ± 4.9%).

Virginia 02
In the highly competitive Second Congressional District election, two-term Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria is being challenged by State Senator Jen Kiggans (R).

Luria, a member of the House January 6th Committee, won reelection to the Virginia Beach-based seat with 51.6% in 2020 and now faces a slightly more Republican constituency (R+2) after redistricting.

Washington 08
Two-term Democratic Congresswoman Kim Schrier is facing 2020 GOP Attorney General nominee Matt Larkin in November's election after securing 47.9% in the district's August 8 open primary. In the ten-candidate contest, Larkin finished a distant second place with 17%, followed by a predominately Republican field.

Schrier led Larkin 47%-43% in the latest polling, conducted August 10-15, 2022 by RMG Research (MOE: ± 4.9%). The Eighth District's Seattle exurbs, which voted for Biden 52%-45% in 2020, remained a Democratic-leaning D+1 after redistricting.

Wisconsin 03
Democratic State Senator Brad Pfaff and retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden (R) are running in the open seat being vacated by retiring 13-term Congressman Ron Kind (D).

Kind fended off a challenge by Van Orden, 51.3-48.6%, in 2020, in the same year Trump won the La Crosse and Eau Claire-based district 51.5-46.8%. The new district remains largely unchanged at R+4.

An August 18-19, 2022 survey conducted by Public Policy Polling showed Van Orden leading Pfaff, 45% to 40% (MOE: ± 3.9%).

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight, Ballotpedia, Politico, CityandStateNY, State Dailys, Wiki

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