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Democrats now have their best shot at winning the House, according to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball that just shifted 17 races in their favor.

Why it matters: It's the first time this cycle that the analysts at the University of Virginia Center for Politics are giving Democrats better than a 50% chance of winning the House. "[T]he Democrats now look like soft favorites to win a House majority with a little more than 100 days to go."

Expand chart
Data: University of Virginia Center for Politics; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
  • Sabato, along with his Crystal Ball team at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has been among the most conservative analysts, repeatedly telling us that House control was a coin flip, despite widespread projections of a Democratic takeover.
  • "This president is not popular, and no one believes there is any chance the GOP comes out of this election with more seats than they hold now," the Crystal Ball's Kyle Kondik writes.

The big picture: Remember all the trends we've been telling you about...

  • Trump's presidential approval has hovered in the low 40s for months
  • Democrats have consistently led the House generic ballot
  • Democratic candidates have outperformed in most special elections
  • Republicans are defending 41 seats without an incumbent, compared to Democrats' 22 seats
  • David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report recently moved 11 races toward Democrats, and tells us he sees a “blue wave” on Election Day, driven by suburban professionals.

Why it matters: The broad trend lines are bad for Republicans.

  • The number of districts in play is rising fast, and the vast majority are Republican seats. Numerous at-risk seats is the essential ingredient for a wave election. 
  • Democrats are raising more money overall than Republicans, which is exceptionally rare for a party out of power. Money can’t buy wins, but it sure as hell helps. 
  • Democrats have turned out in record numbers in elections since Trump won. This is the most constant and reliable sign of sustained momentum. 

Be smart: Republicans are counting on the strong economy, and could be helped by a lack of excitement among millennials and Hispanics. But presidential and party approval ratings are similar to those before past wave elections — bearish weather for the party in power.

  • But presidential and party approval ratings are similar to those before past wave elections — bearish weather for the party in power.
  • Go deeper: Sabato's Crystal Ball.

Go deeper

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: The Senate majority leader announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.