A Few Moves on the Eve of the Election

by Nathan L. Gonzales November 5, 2018 · 10:46 AM EST

On the eve of Election Day 2018, the battleground is largely set, but GOP prospects have dimmed in at least one suburban seat and couple Democratic longshots should be taken more seriously 

The addition of Alaska’s At-Large District and South Carolina’s 1st District brings the total number of vulnerable Republican seats to 81 compared to just 8 vulnerable Democrat seats. The disparity between the two parties is reminiscent of 2010, when our pre-election list of competitive races included 100 Democratic seats and just nine Republican seats. Democrats lost 63 seats that cycle. 

Republicans are unlikely to lose that many seats this cycle, but the battleground is one of the biggest reasons why Democrats are likely to regain the majority- because they need to win less than a third of the competitive seats. 

Alaska’s At-Large District (Don Young, R, re-elected 50%). Trump 53%. The 85-year-old congressman was first elected to Congress in 1972, more than 15 years before New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born. He’s been re-elected ever since, although it hasn’t been without some close calls. In 2006, Young trailed in virtually every poll, in a terrible Republican year, before he defeated Democrat Ethan Berkowitz 50-45 percent. 

This year, the congressman’s race has been slow to develop. Independent Alyse Galvin is challenging Young and won the Democratic primary. In mid-October, a Democratic pollster showed her trailing by just four points while a more recent, nonpartisan poll, showed Young trailing by a point. 

It’s still seems unlikely Young loses re-election, particularly in a state where Hillary Clinton failed to reach 38 percent. But the late GOP spending from Congressional Leadership Fund for a GOTV effort isn’t exactly comforting if you’re a Republican. Move from Solid R to Likely R. 

Alaska Survey Research, Oct. 26-29 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Galvin over Young 49%-48%.
Lake Research Partners (D) for Galvin, Oct. 13-16 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Young over Galvin 48%-44%.
Alaska Survey Research, Oct. 12-14 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Young over Galvin 49%-47%. 
Public Policy Polling (D)(IVR), Oct. 11-12 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Young over Galvin 46%-43%.
Alaska Survey Research, Oct. 1-6 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Young over Galvin 50%-46%.

Illinois’ 14th District (Randy Hultgren, R, re-elected 59%). Trump 49%. President Donald Trump’s job approval rating continues to suffer in the suburbs and exurbs, including the areas outside of Chicago. Former senior adviser for the U.S. Health Department/nurse Lauren Underwood has emerged as a strong challenger in a late-breaking race. A recent New York Times poll isn’t encouraging for Republicans and it’s not the only poll which shows Hultgren in trouble. Move from Tilt R to Toss-up, but that might be generous to the congressman. 

Siena for New York Times, Oct. 31-Nov. 4 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Underwood over Hultgren 49%-43%. IDs: Hultgren 41% favorable/36% unfavorable, Underwood 50% favorable/29% unfavorable.

South Carolina’s 1st District (Open; Mark Sanford, R, lost in Republican primary). Trump 54%. Katie Arrington knocked off the congressman in the GOP primary, survived a serious car accident, and is in a competitive general election race against Democrat Joe Cunningham. The President won the coastal district by double-digits but there’s data showing the race is competitive, even in the final days. Arrington is still likely to win, but this is a serious contest. Move from Solid R to Likely R.