Sep 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Cook Report: GOP control of the House no longer "foregone conclusion"

Illustration of the GOP logo sweating.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter says a Republican takeover of the House is "no longer a foregone conclusion," as concern over protecting abortion rights fuels Democratic voter engagement and lower gas prices ease the party's deficit with independent voters.

Driving the news: The publication’s House editor Dave Wasserman on Thursday moved the ratings of five more House seats in Democrats’ direction.

  • The rating changes include the Alaska House seat that Democrat Mary Peltola won in a special election over Trump-backed Republican Sarah Palin. Wasserman rates the Alaska seat a "toss-up" for November.
  • Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, representing a bellwether suburban district that backed President Biden by 6 points, is now rated as the favorite to win re-election against Republican Yesli Vega. "Vega's Todd Akin-like 'hot mic' comments about the likelihood of pregnancy following rape are a godsend to Spanberger," Wasserman writes.
  • Wasserman also points out that "Republican primaries pulling candidates to the right" have been a factor in the improved forecast for Democrats.

Why it matters: While Republicans are still favored to win back a House majority, it's now likelier their margins will be narrower than once expected. And the fact that there's now a path for Democrats to hold their majority, however narrow, is a sea change from expectations just a couple of months ago.

Zoom out: A new Wall Street Journal poll, conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone, shows clear Democratic momentum over the summer.

  • Democrats now hold a 3-point edge (47%-44%) on the generic congressional ballot, a significant swing since the pollsters' March 2022 survey. Back then, Republicans held a 5-point advantage.
  • Among political independents, more voters now favor a Democratic candidate for Congress than a Republican (38%-35%). In March, Republicans led among independents by 12 percentage points.
  • President Biden's job approval rating has jumped to 45%, a 4-point bounce since March. He would comfortably defeat former President Trump in a 2024 rematch, 50%-44%. In March, the two candidates were tied.

But, but, but: There are still plenty of warning signs for overconfident Democrats. Only 23% of respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, and 35% have a favorable view of the economy. Republicans hold a 12-point advantage over Democrats on who's better to get inflation under control.

  • And another Fabrizio and Anzalone poll of Nevada voters (commissioned by AARP) shows Democrats in rough shape. The Nevada survey finds Biden with just a 40% job approval rating, while Democratic incumbents for governor and Senate are statistically tied with their GOP challengers.

The bottom line: Democrats are in the best political position they've been in all year. But campaigns are just beginning to ramp up after the Labor Day weekend, and the party in power is typically more vulnerable to a fickle American electorate.

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