We have less than a month to go before Election Day, and with the political environment only getting worse for Republicans, Daily Kos Elections is moving our race ratings in 10 contests in the direction of the Democrats—including several contests that were once beyond the fringe but are now coming online. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.
• KS-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Well, we were wrong: Like many other analysts and operatives in both parties, we had thought that Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier only had a shot at flipping Kansas’ open Senate seat if Republicans nominated former secretary of state and perennial bungler Kris Kobach. Yet two months after Rep. Roger Marshall beat Kobach for the Republican nomination, this race not only remains on the board, it's gotten more competitive than ever.
Almost every survey released since the primary, including a mid-September poll from Marshall’s own allies, has shown a tight contest, and both sides are behaving accordingly. Outside Democratic groups are spending heavily, and national Republicans have likewise continued to pour in cash to aid Marshall—money they’d certainly rather be using elsewhere at a time when so many other GOP-held Senate seats are at risk.
Marshall still has the upper hand in a state that has given its electoral votes to the Republicans in every presidential election since 1968 and almost certainly will do so again. However, the congressman is in much weaker shape than he ought to be, and Bollier, who was a moderate Republican herself until two years ago, could win over enough ticket splitters to prevail.
• SC-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Almost every poll out of South Carolina has shown a tight Senate race between Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jaime Harrison, who has been massively outspending his opponent. Outside groups on both sides have taken notice and have begun dumping millions into a state that hasn’t elected a single Democrat to statewide office since 2006.
It would, of course, still represent a major upset if Graham lost. South Carolina is likely to give its electoral votes to the GOP ticket (though that race is unusually close, too), so the burden is on Harrison to win over enough crossover support to prevail next month. And while almost every poll shows that a significant number of conservatives distrust Graham, his high-profile role as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee gives him a chance to win over skeptics during the Supreme Court confirmation fight. Harrison, though, has been running a very strong race against the three-term senator, and if anyone can pull off a surprise, he can.
• AR-02 (Likely R to Lean R): Republican Rep. French Hill faces a well-funded challenge from Democrat Joyce Elliott in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, a Little Rock-area seat that backed Donald Trump 52-42 four years ago. A series of recent polls have all shown a tight contest here: An early September survey for Hendrix College found Hill ahead just 48-46 as Joe Biden led 49-45, while a Brilliant Corners poll conducted weeks later for national Democratic groups found Elliott ahead by that very same margin with Biden up 49-46. A late September Elliott internal from ALG Research fell right in the middle by showing a 48-48 tie.
National Republicans haven’t released contradictory numbers, and the Congressional Leadership Fund’s recent decision to book $500,000 in advertising time here is the best indicator that the GOP's own polls also find things competitive. National Democrats agree since they too are running ads in this district. This seat is still tough turf for Team Blue, and Hill himself turned back a credible challenger 52-46 during the 2018 Democratic wave, but Elliott is one to watch.
• AZ-06 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Rep. David Schweikert has always easily won reelection in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, a seat based in Scottsdale and north Phoenix that supported Donald Trump 52-42, but he’s in for the fight of his political career against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni.
In late July, Schweikert finalized a deal with the House Ethics Committee under which he accepted a formal reprimand and admitted to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws. Tipirneni and her allies have been running ads portraying the congressman as corrupt, while Schweikert's burdensome legal bills as a result of the two year-long investigation have left him with limited resources to respond.
While Schweikert is in a bad place, he could still prevail in this historically red seat. Tipirneni and national Democrats have released several polls that show a close contest, and some of them even find the incumbent still ahead. Those surveys, though, also find a close presidential race in this well-educated suburban district, which further complicates Schweikert’s task.
• MN-01 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Jim Hagedorn defeated Democrat Dan Feehan 50.1-49.7 in a 2018 open seat contest for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, and their rematch this cycle looks like it will be just as competitive. Over the last few months Feehan and his allies have publicized a trio of polls showing a tight race, while Hagedorn waited until midsummer to release an antediluvian survey from early March conducted before the pandemic upended American life. Both parties are also continuing to spend millions in this southern Minnesota district.
This seat swung from 50-48 Obama to 53-39 Trump, but there’s also reason to think that it’s moving back to the left. Most polls find Joe Biden doing considerably better than Hillary Clinton statewide as well as in predominantly white rural areas like this. That’s potentially very bad news for Hagedorn, who could be in for trouble if Biden takes the 1st District this time.
• NJ-02 (Lean R to Tossup): If freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew thought that his decision to leave the Democratic Party last year would ensure him an easy reelection in New Jersey’s 2nd District, he was very wrong.
Democrat Amy Kennedy and her allies have published several polls showing her ahead, while Joe Biden also holds the edge in a South Jersey seat that favored Donald Trump 51-46. Monmouth University also released an independent survey in early October that gave Kennedy and Biden a 49-44 and 48-45 edge, respectively. If Republicans have better polling, they have not shared it.
• OH-01 (Lean R to Tossup): Republicans gerrymandered Ohio’s 1st Congressional District at the start of the decade to keep Rep. Steve Chabot in office as long as he wanted, but Team Blue’s growing strength in the suburbs is threatening his hold on this Cincinnati-area seat.
Democrat Kate Schroder and her allies have released polls showing her in a close race with Chabot as Joe Biden enjoys a small lead in a district that backed Donald Trump 51-45; Republicans, by contrast, have yet to drop any numbers here. Major outside groups from both sides have also begun airing commercials here in recent weeks in another sign that things are tight.
• PA-07 (Lean D to Likely D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Susan Wild decisively flipped Pennsylvania's 7th District last cycle, and it will be hard for Republicans to deny her a second term. A late September poll from Muhlenberg College found Wild up 52-39, while Joe Biden led 51-44 in this Lehigh Valley seat that narrowly backed Hillary Clinton 49-48. While we haven’t seen any other numbers here, the lack of any serious outside spending from either party indicates that the big players on both sides don't see this as a particularly competitive race.
• SC-02 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Rep. Joe Wilson has gone a decade without a serious Democratic opponent in South Carolina’s 2nd District, but attorney Adair Ford Boroughs has raised a credible amount of money for this contest.
This seat, which is based in the Augusta and Columbia suburbs, backed Donald Trump 56-39, so it’s very tough turf for Team Blue. However, with Senate candidate Jaime Harrison running a very strong statewide campaign, it’s possible that Democrats will perform better here than they have in a long time. It would still be difficult for Boroughs to defeat Wilson, who hasn’t made much news since he infamously screamed “You lie!” at Barack Obama during a congressional address in 2009, but this contest is worth keeping an eye on.
• VA-05 (Likely R to Lean R): Democrat Cameron Webb and his allies have released a trio of polls showing him only narrowly trailing Republican Bob Good in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, a seat that stretches from Charlottesville to the south-central part of the state. Republicans haven’t responded with better numbers, and the Congressional Leadership Fund’s decision to book $750,000 here in late September indicates that they’re also seeing a competitive contest.
It will still be difficult for Webb to win in a seat this red. Trump carried the district 53-42, and even Corey Stewart won 50-48 here while he was losing the 2018 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine by a brutal 57-41 margin statewide. Webb, though, is running a strong campaign, and he could achieve an upset.
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