The Republican hold on the Senate going into the 2016 elections has always been in question, because the GOP faces a much tougher map than the Democrats, with a larger number of vulnerable senators facing reelection this year. But until recently, Republican control of the House of Representatives has never really been in doubt.
The GOP holds a 58-seat advantage in the lower chamber, and the overwhelming majority of the country’s 435 Congressional districts are considered “safe” because of gerrymandering and other factors.
But just as the candidacy of billionaire Donald Trump has shaken up the way people view the Republican primary, it has also begun to change some people’s thinking about the House of Representatives. Given Trump’s divisive rhetoric, it’s now practically taken as a given that a GOP with him at the top of the ticket loses the Senate in November.
On Friday, an updated ranking of 2016 House races by the Cook Political Report suggests that Republican candidates in the House may be suffering some Trump blowback, too.
Last month, when the Cook rankings came out, it rated 206 Republican seats as “safe” compared to 170 Democratic seats. The Republicans had another 25 seats that were either likely to remain Republican or at least leaned in that direction, compared to 13 for Democrats. The Republicans had 16 seats deemed a toss-up or worse, and the Dems only 5.
When the new ratings were released, ten different races were reclassified, and they all favored Democratic candidates. The “safe” seat breakdown shifted to 205 Republicans and 174 Democrats. The Likely/lean category went to 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats, with all the Democrats moving up and the Republicans moving down. Finally, the toss-up or worse category went to 18 Republicans and only 4 Dems, again, with all the movement in the Democrats’ favor.
This is not to suggest that the 30-seat swing the Democrats would need to retake the House is a sure thing, but it’s enough that some folks on the Republican side of the fence are starting to sweat.
“So many assumptions have been wrong this cycle that it’s difficult to be definitive about another: that the House majority won’t be in play in 2016,” concluded the Cook Report’s House of Representatives editor David Wasserman.