How the GOP hopes to overcome steep odds in House battle
Republicans face an uphill climb to take back the House majority in November, with the battle centered around 30 key districts that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won in 2016 but that Democrats flipped in 2018.
The party must win a net gain of 18 seats to flip the House and will have to account for the redistricting in North Carolina, which will endanger two GOP-held seats, as well as retiring Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation House GOP delays police reform bill The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests MORE’s (R-Texas) district, which Democrats are favored to take.
GOP candidates may have an advantage in a number of these districts with President Trump bringing enthusiasm and a potential fundraising boon.
However, Democrats are feeling a surge of confidence with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE at the top of the ticket and have an opportunity to run on health care— a policy area that helped them clinch the House in 2018 — amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said this week that its Frontline members, a group of 42 majority freshman House lawmakers who flipped Trump-won districts in 2018, raked in a total of over $31.1 million in the first quarter of the year.
Additionally, the committee announced that every frontline member outraised their challengers, and that 14 Democratic challengers outraised Republican incumbents or open seat challengers in the same period.
“So much is tied to the top of the ticket, so much. Raising money and staying competitive with your Democratic opponent in terms of fundraising is an absolute must just to get you in the conversation. But then a lot of it will come down to how the top of your ticket does in your district. There will not be a ton of people outperforming there their party’s nominee,” one senior GOP operative said.
“Money is such a crucial factor in the fact that Democrats are doing so well,” the operative added, saying they can fundraise off the party’s strong distaste for the president. “Republicans need to keep pace in the money race just to even like get close to where they need to be.”
However, Republicans say that despite being outspent by Democrats, they are still taking an offensive strategy.
“We knew from the beginning we were probably going to be outspent. It doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said. “Our focus is keeping it close, and in November, we’ll know if we kept it close enough to take back the House.”
Republicans also point to recruitment, with one operative highlighting the diversity and number of female candidates running, adding they feel particularly strong in flipping New York’s 22nd District, New Mexico’s 2nd District and Oklahoma’s 5th District. All three are districts won by Trump but flipped by Democrats in 2018.
“If you look at the battlefield of how we take back the majority, you have this initial slate of races where Trump did really well in 2016, and where we already know we’re going to do well in 2020,” a House Republican strategist told The Hill.
“Then you also have a tier of more traditional swing seats where Republicans needed to recruit diverse, talented candidates to run competitive races – and Republicans have absolutely done that,” the strategist added.
Click Here: COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 2019In addition to the House GOP’s campaign arm, top outside groups including the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a PAC dedicated to electing House Republicans, have started reserving airtime in top races since last week.
Republicans have already targeted Democrats on key issues like Trump’s impeachment. However, the coronavirus outbreak will likely force both parties to tailor their messaging, with Democrats hitting Trump on his response and Republicans defending it.
The pandemic has opened the door for Democrats to hone in on health care, an issue they won handily on in 2018.
“During impeachment through the presidential primary [Democrats] said healthcare was going to be the major thing, and now given the [coronavirus] news, healthcare has only come more into focus,” one Democratic strategist said.
The DCCC has already made healthcare a focus of their ads, running a 25-second advertisement in the beginning of March targeting the affordability of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
“No one wants to vote for the guy working to take health care away from sick people – especially during a pandemic,” DCCC national press secretary Robyn Patterson said in a statement. “Republicans lost the House in 2018 because of their attacks on Americans with pre-existing conditions. Their mission to strip health care from hardworking Americans going to cost them their jobs in 2020 too.”
Democrats have also put a focus on Trump’s decision to not reopen ObamaCare enrollment to uninsured Americans amid the pandemic.
“It’s something every House Republican is going to have to answer for,” the Democratic strategist said.
Democrat Betsy Londrigan, who is running to unseat Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisVoting reform advocates pounce on Georgia debacle to urge changes The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers MORE (R-Ill.) for a second time in the state’s 13th District, has called on Davis to push the Trump administration to temporarily reopen ObamaCare enrollment.
Davis, in turn, has said he would be open to discussing it with the administration, but added a reopening would not help individuals who cannot afford premiums. The Cook Political Report rates the district as a “toss-up.”
Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to turn the cratering economy into a winning issue, touting Trump and the GOP’s efforts to reboot it as the country is certain to go into recession.
Over five million people filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending April 11, putting the total at around 22 million in four weeks.
“President Trump and Republicans put the economy at historic highs before this pandemic happened and they are the best people to do it afterwards,” McAdams said.
Democrats could also stand to benefit from the recent show of unity between the progressives and centrists at the top of the ticket. Biden received endorsements this week from former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Five ways America would take a hard left under Joe Biden Valerie Jarrett: ‘Democracy depends upon having law enforcement’ MORE, as well as his progressive opponents Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.).
Some vulnerable Democratic lawmakers, notably Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamRepublican Nancy Mace to face Joe Cunningham in South Carolina House race OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump rule limits states from blocking pipeline projects | EPA finalizes rule to regulate cancer-linked chemical | Democrats want Congress to help plug ‘orphan’ oil and gas wells Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D) in South Carolina’s 1st District, had voiced concerns about how Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, would play in districts like his. Cook rates Cunningham’s district as a “toss-up.”
With Biden leading the ticket, Democrats say they will focus even more on preserving the Affordable Care Act passed under the Obama administration.
“Joe Biden is making a strong case for why Trump’s refusal to open the marketplace is stopping Americans from getting health insurance in a public health crisis,” the Democratic strategist said.
Democrats still have the advantage in a number of districts Trump carried in 2016. For example, the Cook Political Report rates Rep. Angie Craig’s (D-Minn.) district, which Trump won by 1.2 percentage points, as “lean Democratic,” while Reps. Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillGun control group rolls out House endorsements Bipartisan Senate group offers new help to state, local governments Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE’s (D-N.J.) and Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindCoronavirus culture war over reopening economy hits Capitol Hill How the GOP hopes to overcome steep odds in House battle The Hill’s Campaign Report: 200 days to Election Day 2020 MORE’s (D-Wis.) races are rated as “likely Democratic.”
However, Republicans have advantages in other key districts. Cook changed the rating for the race to fill former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE’s (D-Calif.) district from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up” this month. California Assemblywoman Christie Smith (D) and former Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R) will face off in the vote-by-mail special general election on May 12.
A poll released last month from Garcia, conducted by the firm 1892 Polling, shows him leading in the race 43 percent to Smith’s 39 percent. CLF announced on Thursday the group would spene $600,000 to persuade swing voters in the district.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Rep. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerGun control group rolls out House endorsements The Hill’s Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-Va.) faces a tough race in the 7th District, which Cook rates as a “toss up.” Cook also rated Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathFloyd’s brother urges Congress to take action The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE’s (D-Ga.) seat in Georgia’s 6th District as a “toss-up.” That district was won by Trump in 2016 and was held by former Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelJon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Ossoff within reach of Democratic Senate nomination in Georgia, but counting continues MORE (R-Ga.), who is running again for the seat.
And one GOP strategist noted recent polling showed Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiNRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar’s call to abolish police Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-N.J.) — who flipped New Jersey’s 7th District in 2018 — currently narrowly trails GOP opponent, Tom Kean.
“We have every bit of confidence that Republicans will have the resources we need to compete for the majority,” a House Republican strategist said.