Initial 2018 Senate Ratings Map Filled With GOP Opportunities
Democrats defending 25 seats next year, compared to just 8 for Republicans

While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, is heavily favored for re-election, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are facing toss-up contests, according to the first 2018 race ratings by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ready or not, here come the 2018 midterm elections. Resistance is futile.

Even if you don’t want to acknowledge them, aspiring candidates are posturing for statewide bids and vulnerable incumbents are casting votes with re-election in mind.

Ratings Change: Obama State Shifts to Trump
Iowa shifts from Tossup to Tilts Republican

GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is well-positioned to win Iowa's six electoral votes on Tuesday, Nathan Gonzales writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to have a narrow but distinct advantage over Donald J. Trump in the presidential race, but one state that President Barack Obama won twice looks to have slipped away from the Democrat’s reach.

Obama won Iowa twice with little fanfare, but Trump is well-positioned to win the Hawkeye State’s six electoral votes on Tuesday. The final pre-election poll by Iowa-based Selzer & Co., conducted Nov. 1-4, showed Trump with a 46-39 percent lead. Other private polling confirms the Republican’s advantage.

Ratings Change: 7 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
But one change toward Republicans isn’t particularly good news for majority chances

California Rep. Jeff Denham faces a competitive re-election fight with less than two weeks before Nov. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When nearly 90 percent of the batch of House ratings changes are in your favor, it’s normally great news. But with a limited House playing field, Democrats need to win virtually all of the competitive seats, and some initial takeover targets look like they are slipping out of reach.

In the most recent set of ratings changes by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call, seven races shift toward the Democrats. Takeover prospects improved in a couple of California districts (the 10th and 49th), a couple of districts with weakened GOP incumbents (Florida’s 7th and New Jersey’s 5th), and two suburban districts (Kansas’ 3rd and Pennsylvania’s 8th).

Ratings Change: 5 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
But Democrats are still waiting for wave required to win majority

The good news for Republicans is that the bottom hasn’t fallen out from underneath their down-ballot candidates. The bad news is that there are still nearly three weeks left before Election Day, and 24 hours in each day for Donald Trump to torpedo the party’s chances of holding the House.

District-level polling after the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video and the second debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton showed some vulnerability for Republicans, particularly in suburban districts. But we didn’t see a widespread cratering of GOP candidates in the competitive districts or evidence that the number of competitive seats is increasing dramatically.

Ratings Change: 2 More States Solid for Clinton
Virginia and Colorado look out of reach for Trump

Supporters of Donald Trump might take solace in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, which showed him trailing Hillary Clinton by 4 points. But Trump’s path to victory in the Electoral College is an increasingly narrow one.

At the beginning of the election cycle, any GOP presidential nominee likely needed to win Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia to get more than 270 electoral votes. 

Ratings Change: Two More Senate Races Move to Tossup
Missouri, Indiana are two of six states that will decide Senate control

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt has been on a steep slide in his race against Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander in the Show Me State. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With three weeks to go before Election Day, the fight for control of the Senate is coming down to six states hosting very close contests.

New Hampshire, Nevada, and Pennsylvania have been tossup races for months and are now joined by Missouri and Indiana. Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr’s re-election race in North Carolina is rated as Tilts Republican for now, but may end up in the same category.

Presidential Rating Change: Midwest State Moves to Tossup
Trump holds steady in Iowa against Clinton

The good news for Donald Trump is that he is doing well in a state President Barack Obama won twice. The bad news is that winning Iowa isn’t enough to get him to the White House.

Trump has held a consistent lead over Hillary Clinton in the Hawkeye State (45-41 percent in the latest RealClearPolitics average), putting him in line to scoop up its six electoral votes. It’s a remarkable turnaround considering Iowa was one of the closest states in the country in 2000 and 2004, but Obama won it easily in 2008 (54-44 percent) and 2012 (52-46 percent).

Ratings Changes in 5 Senate Races
North Carolina and Missouri replace Ohio and Florida on competitive map

Two of the Republicans’ most vulnerable Senate seats are looking safer by the day, but the GOP’s majority is still in significant doubt with evolving Democratic takeover targets in North Carolina and Missouri.

Democrats outside of Ohio have all but ceded a second term to GOP Sen. Rob Portman. We’re changing The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating from Leans Republican to Republican Favored

Rating Change: Democrats Turn Up Heat in New Jersey House Race
Defeating GOP's Scott Garrett has become one of the party's top goals

New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett has drawn national attention for his remarks on gay Republican candidates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Scott Garrett doesn’t represent one of the most Democratic districts, but Democrats have made the New Jersey Republican one of their top takeover targets this cycle. It’s starting to feel like even if Democrats fall short of the majority on Election Night, defeating Garrett would help them sleep a little easier.

Mitt Romney and John McCain carried New Jersey’s 5th District in the most recent presidential elections, so there are better opportunities for Democrats in more Democratic districts.

Rating Change: McCain More Vulnerable in Arizona
Donald Trump isn’t helping longtime senator’s bid for sixth term

Arizona Sen. John McCain said he could be in the "race of my life," with Donald Trump topping the Republican ticket this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John McCain didn’t have a lot of trouble winning his recent primary, but the Arizona Republican doesn’t have any time to relax with a competitive general election on the horizon.

“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” the 2008 GOP presidential nominee told supporters at a May fundraiser.