Fox News Power Rankings: Republicans expected to control House, but both parties hold on to pathways in Senate
Republicans are winning on the economy and crime, and that translates into a decisive House majority. In the Senate, it’s all about the toss-up races, and Democrats still have a fighting chance to keep control. The final edition of Fox News Power Rankings for 2022 sees shifts in 18 competitive House races, two Senate races and three governor’s races.
House: GOP expected to take control with clear majority as party finds opportunities in blue states
The Power Rankings forecast expects Republicans to take control of the House with a 19–seat majority, or 236 total seats. That is a gain of 23 seats compared to the number they hold in Congress today.
The higher majority for the GOP comes as the party gains momentum in a dozen critical races.
There are several toss-up districts left on the board; races so competitive that neither party has an advantage. The 236-seat estimate for the GOP assumes that each party wins half of those seats, but the actual outcome depends on how well the parties perform on Election Night. If Republican turnout in the battleground districts is high, then the GOP could win more than half of the toss-up races. That could make this a “red wave” election, with a Republican haul of up to 249 seats (or more, if they take any Dem-leaning races). On the other hand, a strong Democratic performance on Election Night would see their party take most of the toss-ups, limiting the GOP to as few as 223 seats, a mere six-seat majority. These are all possible outcomes, according to the forecast.
Notably, the range of likely scenarios no longer includes the Democrats keeping their House majority. Just last week, the forecast gave the Democrats a slim chance of keeping a one- or two-seat majority. With seven races now moving into the GOP columns, that pathway has disappeared. For the Democrats to hold on to power, they would now need to win all 26 toss-up races and pick off another six districts where the Republicans have had an advantage.
Inflation and crime are still registering as the top two issues of concern for voters, and they favor the GOP by double digits. The border is also proving to be salient, with the latest national Fox News Poll showing voters favor the GOP on that issue by a whopping 21 points. Democrats have focused on the Supreme Court’s reversal of reproductive rights to some success, and Republicans have put a ceiling on their gains by nominating very far-right candidates in about a dozen swing districts. However, overall, the issues suggest the GOP is in for a good night.
There are signs that the Democrats are pivoting to the economy. The party has few options to address issues like the rising cost of living and gas prices, but former President Obama had a different angle when he appeared at a rally in Wisconsin last Saturday. He attacked the Republican Party over possible changes to Social Security and Medicare benefits, a message which has been missing at the national level for much of the campaign. Given how late it is, this is a Hail Mary throw, but watch for the theme to appear more frequently at the district level in the final days.
Twelve competitive races are moving toward the Republicans in this forecast, with another six shifting toward the Democrats.
Competitive shifts toward Republicans
Republicans are expanding their map in this forecast. In New York, crime is the number one issue, particularly among independent voters. That spells trouble for Democrats in Long Island. In the 4th district, Republican candidate Anthony D’Esposito is campaigning on his experience as a former fire chief and NYPD detective. His race against former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen moves from Lean D to Toss-Up. Moving upstate to Hudson Valley, Republicans have a strong candidate in Marc Molinaro, running in the 19th district. He has led a disciplined campaign focused on inflation, energy and the opioid crisis; he is now the favorite against Democrat Josh Riley. That race moves from Toss-Up to Lean R.
On the West Coast, two districts in the Los Angeles area are also shifting right. The first is California’s 27th district in Northern LA County, where incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Garcia is facing Democrat Christy Smith. The other is California’s 47th district, just south of Los Angeles, including Irvine and Huntington Beach. There, the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Katie Porter, is facing Republican former Assemblyman Scott Baugh. Two issues work against the Democrats: first, California is dealing with gas prices about $1.80 higher than the national average. Second, if New York City is the center of all crime coverage, Los Angeles is a close second. The 27th district moves from Toss-Up to Lean R, and the 47th district moves from Lean D to Toss-Up. The hope for Democrats is that enough voters will balk at the far-right positions of both of these GOP candidates. Baugh, for example, has said he does not support same-sex marriage.
Republicans also have an advantage in Nevada’s 3rd district, currently held by Democrat Susie Lee. This seat contains areas of Las Vegas, an area badly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, and with high Hispanic and working-class populations. It also has the lowest Biden margin of the three swing districts in the Silver State, so it is likely to be the first to fall to the GOP. Republican former attorney April Becker has also been aided by over $10.7 million in outside spending opposing Lee. This race moves from Toss-Up to Lean R.
In several suburban and exurban districts, Republican candidates are focusing on the economy and crime while their opponents lean into abortion, giving the GOP an advantage in the final stages. Good examples include Virginia’s 2nd district and 7th district, home to incumbent Democrats Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger. These races are moving to Lean R and Toss-Up, respectively. Washington’s 8th district, which has a very similar profile to the Virginia 7th, is also moving back from Lean D to Toss-Up.
There are also shifts toward Republicans in:
- Connecticut’s 5th district: The GOP appears to have a rising star on their hands with George Logan, a small business owner with Guatemalan parents; he is laser-focused on gas prices and veterans’ issues in his campaign against incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes, who has run a good campaign but no longer has a clear advantage. This race moves from Lean D to Toss-Up.
- Oregon’s 5th district contains suburban areas of Portland and Bend. In this open seat, progressive Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner is facing Latina Republican candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Outside groups aligned with the Democrats have stopped spending in an effort to save other vulnerable seats in the northwest. This race moves from Toss-Up to Lean R.
- North Carolina’s 13th district: Republicans nominated the 27-year-old former college football player Bo Hines for this Raleigh exurban seat with former President Trump’s backing; analysts often have compared him to the ousted freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn. This district voted for President Biden by a lean 2 points in 2020, and the winds are blowing in the Republicans’ direction. It moves from Toss-Up to Lean R.
Competitive shifts toward Democrats
Both parties are making gains in unexpected places, with the Democrats adding two races to their columns in red states. In Alaska’s at-large district, incumbent Democrat Mary Pelota has run a local issues campaign, picked up an endorsement from centrist Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and has raised $4 million more than her next best-funded opponent, former Gov. Sarah Palin. The Democrat in Kansas’ 3rd district, Rep. Sharice Davids, has been an effective communicator running in the wealthiest and most highly educated part of the state; she also has a multi-million dollar fundraising advantage. Both of these races are moving from Toss-Up to Lean D.
There are also shifts toward Democrats in:
- Arizona’s 4th district: Incumbent Democrat Greg Stanton is a well-known moderate in this Tempe-based seat, and has been aided by $3.5 million in outside spending opposing the Republican candidate Kelly Cooper. This race moves from Toss-Up to Lean D.
- Nebraska’s 2nd district: Republican incumbent Don Bacon has won close races before, though may have met his match in moderate state Sen. Tony Vargas. The fundamentals still favor Bacon. This race moves from Likely R to Lean R.
- New Hampshire’s 1st district: GOP Senate candidate Don Bolduc has not gained enough momentum to keep this race, featuring 25-year-old former Trump administration aide Karoline Leavitt, in the most competitive category. It moves from Toss-Up to Lean D.
- Pennsylvania’s 17th district: The 17th district is located in the Pittsburgh suburbs, making it more of a lift for Republicans than toss-up districts still listed in the Keystone State. This race moves from Toss-Up to Lean D.
Senate: Coin-flip races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania will determine control, as Washington comes back into play for GOP
On the Senate side of the Capitol, both parties are fighting for every last vote. The Power Rankings give 47 seats to the Democrats and 49 to the Republicans, leaving four crucial toss-up races to decide control. With only four highly competitive seats in play, and tight margins in all of them, the Senate could go either way.
Republicans might have expected to make some progress in the Senate races given their momentum in the House, but the Democratic candidates in all four toss-ups have been resilient.
Yesterday, new polling from The New York Times and Siena College in Arizona showed Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly receiving 51% of the vote in his race, six points ahead of Republican challenger and tech venture capitalist Blake Masters. In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democrat, is polling at 49% with Republican former TV host and surgeon Mehmet Oz at 44%, though most of the survey was held before Fetterman’s disastrous debate performance last week. In Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock also sits at 49%. That is just shy of what the Democrat would need to avoid a runoff, and three points ahead of scandal-plagued GOP candidate Herschel Walker. In Nevada, it is a tie between Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt; Republicans have said they believed that state would represent their best pickup opportunity. These races are all on a knife’s edge.
While the most competitive races are staying put, this forecast shifts two other Senate seats toward the Republicans.
First, in Washington, the GOP is continuing to invest in Tiffany Smiley, a mom and former nurse aiming to unseat longtime Sen. Patty Murray, the Democrat. Republicans lost the non-partisan primary for this race by 14 points in August, and the Democrats tend to slightly outperform that margin in November. At the same time, Smiley is one of the strongest candidates on the board for the GOP, and the mood on the ground in the Evergreen State suggests that this could be a close call. This race moves from Solid D to Likely D.
On the other side of the country, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is opening up a commanding polling lead and has the benefit of a strong partner at the top of the ticket in popular incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Rubio’s opponent is Rep. Val Demings. A former Orlando police chief, Demings has been one of the stronger Democrats in key midterm races this cycle, but there is little evidence that she has been able to peel support away from Rubio, who has remained a popular conservative leader. Florida moves from Lean R to Likely R.
Governor: Growing chance of upsets in New York and Oklahoma; Democrats likely to retain Pennsylvania
The governor’s map remains challenging for the Democratic Party. Of the six toss-up states left, Democrats are playing defense in five. They are expected to pick up Massachusetts and Maryland, where centrist Republicans are leaving office, but efforts to expand the map further with high-profile candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams have fallen flat.
Last week, the Power Rankings moved New York from Solid D to Likely D as crime emerged as the dominant issue. One week later, and the race continues to tighten. Several recent polls have the race within 10 points, and the Republican machine has thrown its full weight behind Rep. Lee Zeldin, who told “Your World with Neil Cavuto” last week that New Yorkers “don’t want to be told that [crime is] just perception.” He also picked up an endorsement from a Jewish community group in Brooklyn. Structural advantages remain for incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is counter-punching on crime by talking about gun policy and also challenged Zeldin on his vote to overturn the 2020 election. However, this race could be decided by just a few points. New York moves from Likely D to Lean D.
Republicans have a growing upset problem on their hands in Oklahoma. The bitter feud between GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt and tribal nations has reached a fever pitch. Just as this forecast moved the race from Solid R to Likely R last week, a new KOSU report revealed that Stitt had hired outside lawyers over a gaming compact with four tribes, resurrecting a fight that has plagued his campaign. According to ad analysis data, outside groups have spent well above $10 million on television ads alone to help challenger Joy Hofmeister, who was a Republican until last year, when she became a Democrat. That level of spending is very unusual for a traditionally safe state. Oklahoma moves from Likely R to Lean R.
Finally, while Pennsylvania remains a true battleground in the Senate, Democrats are taking a commanding lead in the governor’s race. The writing was on the wall for Republicans when primary voters chose Doug Mastriano as their candidate, a far-right state senator who has embraced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and COVID-19. Mastriano raised just $4 million as of late September, compared to $37.5 million for state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a moderate Democrat. Mastriano is also receiving little if any outside help. The Democrats are likely to retain the Keystone State, which moves from Lean D to Likely D.
One week until Election Day
Over 20 million Americans have already cast their midterms ballot, but we have not reached the end of the trail just yet. Tonight, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum head to Ohio for a town hall with Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan and JD Vance. Tune in at 6 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel. Meanwhile, our correspondents are traveling across the country with all the major candidates. Watch for President Biden and former President Trump to hold rallies with their top candidates in the battleground states throughout the week. All roads lead to election night next Tuesday, Nov. 8. Fox News presents special coverage from 6 p.m. ET, with the latest race calls and projections from the Fox News Decision Desk, and results from our Fox News Voter Analysis. Check back next week for a guide to the key states and races we will be watching as America decides the future of the nation.
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