From the start, Palmer Report said the Democrats were likely to win the Senate and also had a shot at winning the House. Sure enough, as of last night the Democrats have indeed won the Senate, and the Georgia runoff will give the Democrats the chance for a 51st Senate seat. And sure enough, the Democrats still have a shot at winning the House. But what does it look like?
The Democrats’ House majority prospects took a turn for the better last night when Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez flipped Washington’s 3rd District. This race has been on our list of competitive House races since August, and sure enough, we managed to pull it out.
Last night House Democrat Mike Levin also won reelection in the California 49th. At this point we were expecting Levin to win. We’re also expecting Katie Porter to win the California 47th, after a new batch of votes came in last night which suggested that this wasn’t the nail biter race that the super-close partial results had made it out to be.
So for now we’re penciling in CA-47 and CA-49 as wins. We’re also penciling in Democrat Mary Peltola as a win in Alaska, because while the ranked choice results will take a long time, she’s utterly dominating the early stages. From there things become less certain.
The Democrats’ best shot at the House majority is if they win the two uncalled House races in Arizona. This is far from a sure thing, as these races are both coming down to the wire. But if the Democrats do win both Arizona seats, then they’ll only need to win three out of these nine potentially difficult races:
– California 3rd
– California 13th
– California 22nd
– California 27th
– California 41st
– California 45th
– Colorado 3rd
– New York 22nd
– Oregon 5th
If the Democrats end up splitting the Arizona races, they’d then need to win four out of the nine races above. If the Democrats lose both Arizona seats, they’d need to win five out of the nine races above.
This is actually a tall order. Winning three (or even four or five) out of nine races doesn’t sound difficult, until you consider that the Democrats are probably facing no better than 50-50 odds in any of them, and may be facing significantly worse than 50-50 odds in several of them. I say “may be” because the partial vote totals are coming in so slowly in these California races, it’s difficult to figure out if some of them are trending in the direction that we might have initially expected.
One thing to watch for is whether Mike Levin and Katie Porter both start putting some distance between themselves and their Republican opponents on their way to victory. If they pull ahead by two or three points, it would suggest that Democratic candidates are performing above expectations in the suburban Southern California House races. This could mean the difference between the Democrats narrowly winning and narrowly losing some of the other Southern California districts that trend slightly less Democrat.
I still hesitate to put percentage odds on the Democrats winning the House majority, regardless of which way these two Arizona House races are called over the weekend, because we still don’t yet know how many of those California House races are truly winnable.
Of the California House races I’ve listed as potentially difficult, I suspect that Will Rollins (CA-41) and Rudy Salas (CA-45) have the best prospects of winning. So if either of these two races is called in the Democrats’ favor, that would be a great sign. If the Democrats lose either of them, it would make the whole thing a lot harder.
But the bottom line is this: the media and pundit class spent the past three weeks chasing ratings by insisting the Democrats would probably lose the Senate and would get blown out in the House. But we ignored that noise, and we kept focusing on putting in the work on the races that we already knew were competitive. And now we’ve won the Senate, and we’re still in contention for the House. I knew we could get results along these lines if we were willing to put in the work – and we did. Now let’s go win the Georgia Senate runoff!
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report