Paul Ryan at a weekly press conference. Photo: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

The Cook Political Report just shifted five House races in Democrats' favor. At least six NYT/Siena College polls show Republican incumbents behind their Democratic challengers — and Democrats now hold an eight-point lead in the generic ballot.

Why it matters: Labor Day is traditionally the start of the official election campaign season and the warning signs are starting to pile up for the GOP this month.

The five House races that changed:

  • Colorado's 6th district, held by Rep. Mike Coffman, now rated as "lean Democrat."
  • North Carolina's 13th district, held by Rep. Ted Budd, now rated as "toss up."
  • New York's 2nd district, held by Rep. Peter King, now rated as "likely Republican."
  • Pennsylvania's 1st district, held by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, now rated as "toss up."
  • Texas' 31st district, held by Rep. John Carter, now rated as "lean Republican."

Be smart: If Democrats want to take the House, these races are crucial to win. Pennsylvania's new maps already give Democrats an advantage; Rep. Coffman is down 11 percentage points in the NYT polls; and Rep. Budd joins Rep. Dave Brat as another vulnerable Freedom Caucus member, which signals how drastically the Republican Party could change after November.

The six Republican incumbents down in the NYT/Sienna College polls:

  • Rep. Coffman is 11 points behind Democrat Jason Crow in Colorado.
  • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is three points behind Democrat Harley Rouda in California.
  • Rep. Erik Paulsen is nine points behind Democrat Dean Phillips in Minnesota.
  • Rep. Rod Blum is 15 points behind Democrat Abby Finkenauer in Iowa.
  • Rep. Kevin Yoder is eight points behind Democrat Sharice Davids in Kansas.
  • Rep. Mimi Walters who's on our Axios 8 for 2018 watch list is five points behind Democrat Katie Porter in California.

Two more races to watch: Kentucky's 6th district and Illinois' 6th district, where both Republican incumbents are only ahead by one point in the NYT/Siena polls.

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