DemDaily: US House: Top Tier Targets. The Republicans

September 29, 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. The Democrats I (Alaska to New Jersey) 9/22/22
DemDaily: US House: Top Tier Targets The Democrats II (Nevada to Wisconsin) 9/28/22

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.

Despite defending more than twice as many vulnerable seats, Democrats are hoping the changing tides, including the Roe wave, will tip the balance in their favor in many of the "toss up" contests.

Among those are a dozen vulnerable Republican seats.

Top Targets: The Republicans

California 22
California State Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D) is challenging incumbent Congressman David Valadao (R) in the new 22nd CD.

Valadao represented the San Joaquin Valley's 21st Congressional District for three terms, before losing his seat in 2018 to Democrat TJ Cox, 50.4%-49.6%. He successfully challenged Cox in 2020, reclaiming his old seat, 50.5% to 49.5%.

Valadao, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump (R) for incitement of insurrection following the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, opted to run in the new 22nd CD which encompasses 55% of his 21st CD. The current 22nd is represented by Republican Connie Conway, elected in the June 7, 2022 special election to replace Devin Nunes (R), but who chose not to run for a new full term.

The last public poll, conducted July 30-August 5, 2022 by RMG Research, had Salas up at 39% to Valadao's 34% (Margin of Error: ± 4.9%).

California 27
Among the most vulnerable GOP incumbents is Congressman Mike Garcia, who was first elected to represent the 25th Congressional District in May 2020, when he won a special election to succeed Congresswoman Katie Hill (D).

In a rematch of the special election, Garcia defeated former State Assemblywoman Christy Smith by 333 votes in 2020, making it the third-closest US House race that year. Biden won the north of Los Angeles district by 13 points.

Redistricting put Garcia into the new, slightly bluer (D+4) 27th, where he is being challenged again by Smith, who came in second with 35.4% to Garcia's 49.6% among six candidates in the open June 7, 2022 primary.

An August 25-30, 2022 Mellman Group survey had Smith leading Garcia 44% to 42% (MOE: ±4.0%)

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.

Colorado 08
In the new, competitive Eighth District (Colorado picked up one seat in redistricting), State Representative Yadira Caraveo (D) is facing State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer.

As of September 1, 2022, 27% percent of the district's active registered voters were Democrats, 24% were Republicans, and 46% were unaffiliated. Demographically, the 8th CD has the state's largest percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents, who make up 39% of the district's population.

The last public polling, conducted by Global Strategies Group July 26-August 2, 2022, showed Kirkmeyer and Caraveo in a statistical dead heat at 44%-42% respectively (MOE: ±4.4%).

Illinois 13
In the open 13th CD, former US Office of Management and Budget Chief of Staff and former Senior Advisor to Governor J. B. Pritzker Nikki Budzinski (D) is facing former Decatur Public Schools Foundation Chair Regan Deering (R).

Redistricting put 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis (R) into the new 15th CD, where he subsequently lost the GOP primary. The new, D+3 Democratic-friendly 13th snakes across central Illinois and includes all or most of the communities of East St. Louis, Springfield, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana.

The last public polling, a July 21-28, 2022 RMG Research survey, had Budzinski up by three points, 39%-36%, over Deering.

Michigan 03
Congressman Peter Meijer, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, lost his seat in the August 2nd GOP primary to conservative commentator and Trump-backed challenger John Gibbs, 48.2% to 51.8%.

Gibbs is facing former Department of Justice attorney Hillary Scholten, who challenged Meijer in 2020, losing to him six points in a district Trump won by 3 points.

Redistricting, however, made the Grand Rapids-based district more friendly to Democrats, from a R+4 to D+1.

New Mexico 02
The Second Congressional District, which changed significantly under redistricting, now places two-term Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell in a toss-up contest against former Las Cruces Councilman and former aide to New Mexico US Senator Martin Heinrich Gabriel Vasquez.

A September 26-27, 2022 Ipsos/Reuters poll showed Democrats hold an advantage over their Republican counterparts on the generic congressional ballot, 37% to 32%.


North Carolina 13
The 13th CD, vacated by Congressman Ted Budd, who is running for US Senate, is a contest between Democrat State Senator Wiley Nickel and Trump-endorsed former college football player Bo Hines.

The new district, implemented by the state Supreme Court after rejecting the GOP-drawn map, shifted the old 13th, which stretched from the northern suburbs of Charlotte to Greensboro, to the southern exurbs of Raleigh. It remains a R+2 Republican-leaning seat.

An August 29-September 1, 2022 Global Strategy Group survey showed Nickels leading Hines 44% to 40% among likely voters (MOE: ± 4.4%).

Ohio 01
First elected in 1994, GOP Congressman Steve Chabot has represented southwest Ohio for more than a quarter of a century but is now a prime target for flipping after redistricting shifted his seat from an R+4 to D+2 Democratic-leaning seat.

The Democratic candidate in the race is former public school teacher and Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman. A September 17-21, 2022 Impact Research poll put Landsman three points ahead of Chabot at 49% to 46%.

New York 22
The open 22nd CD draws from retiring GOP Congressman John Katko's Syracuse-based seat, and that of Congresswoman Claudia Tenney's, who is now running in the 24th district.

Former Naval intelligence officer and Navy Reserves Commander Francis Conole (D) is facing Republican Navy veteran and entrepreneur Brandon Williams in the Democratic-leaning D+2 seat.

An August 27-September 2, 2022 survey of likely voters, conducted by RMG Research, showed Williams leading Conole 43% to 40% (MOE: ±4.9%).

Texas 34
The redistricted 34th CD pits three-term Congressman Vincente Gonzalez (D) against newly-elected GOP Congresswoman Mayra Flores, who won the June 14 special election to fill the remaining term of longtime Democratic Congressman Filemon Vela, who resigned March 31, 2022.

The new Rio Grande Valley-based district, which merged with Gonzalez's 15th District, is bluer (D+9), giving Democrats hopes of retaking the seat.

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Sources: Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight, Sabato, State Dailys, SOSs, US House

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