Nov 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats eye Trump country after 2023 election

Trump districts targeted by House Majority PAC
Data: Daily Kos, The New York Times; Table: Axios Visuals

House Democrats' primary super PAC is looking to strong election performances in red states on Tuesday as evidence that it can expand the number of Democrats in Trump districts come 2024.

Why it matters: Even Republicans are acknowledging that abortion has become a potent issue for Democrats in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: House Majority PAC released a memo on Tuesday arguing that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's re-election victory and the success of a pro-abortion rights ballot measure in Ohio prove Democrats "can compete and win in Republican territory."

  • The memo includes a list of 10 districts won by former President Trump in 2020 and House Republicans in 2022 that the PAC says "could be incredibly competitive in 2024" based off Tuesday's results.
  • Among the incumbents on the list: Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), both members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), the chair of the House Administration Committee.
  • A Democratic strategist noted to Axios that many of the incumbents, like Boebert, "vote way to the right of their districts and have proven to be polarizing ... in a way that isolates persuadable voters."

What they're saying: Swing-district House Democrats told Axios the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson has put Republicans on defense on an issue that resonates in key districts.

  • "There are core American values, and democracy and freedom are two of those," Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), who flipped a Republican seat in 2022, told Axios. "Right now ... national Republicans are on the wrong side of those two issues."
  • "For some people, it's: who is that random politician in Richmond or Washington who thinks they get to decide for me?" said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.).
  • Spanberger said Democrats whose victories helped secure both chambers of the Virginia legislature "made a very clear distinction about what you're going to get with [Republicans] ... versus who ultimately got elected."

Yes, but: Republicans weren't without their wins on Wednesday, and even some Democrats cautioned not to read too much into their party's victories.

  • A Republican strategist working on House races pointed to GOP wins in local elections in New York and Pennsylvania — states with many of the most competitive House districts in the country — and also noted that Virginia Republicans largely outperformed Trump's 2020 showing.
  • Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) noted that Virginia Democrats only won narrow legislative majorities, saying the result "doesn't suggest that, all of a sudden, we're winning landslide victories ... we're still going to have to fight hard."

The other side: Republicans in districts targeted by House Majority PAC brushed off the notion that Tuesday's election results bode poorly for them.

  • "I'm not afraid of a challenge, and it's going to be a very successful election year," said Boebert, noting that Trump will likely be on the ballot in 2024.
  • Zinke said that Beshear "was a good candidate" and that "a lot is misread" into his victory, adding that Republicans "can win when we turn out the vote and when we have good candidates."
  • Jack Pandol, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said House Majority PAC's list "is made from unicorns and fairy dust."
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