Rating Change: GOP House Open Seat in New Jersey Shifts to Likely Democratic
Republicans face uphill battle to retain seat of retiring Frank LoBiondo

Sometimes political handicapping can be difficult. Shifting a well-liked Democratic senator in North Dakota, who has won a close and competitive race previously, to Tilts Republican from Toss-Up wasn’t an easy decision. But Republican Seth Grossman is making it easy for political analysts.

The former Atlantic County Freeholder won the GOP nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd District on June 5, but the National Republican Congressional Committee disavowed him on Monday after multiple offensive statements came to light. “Bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives,” said NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers of Ohio.

GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
FEC has questions for Club for Conservatives PAC

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is locked in a competitive and expensive race for Senate. But the Tennessee Republican’s campaign decided to return a sizable contribution from a political action committee that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said. 

Podcast: A Supreme Campaign Issue
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 14

For six Democratic senators in rough fights for re-election in Trump states, the coming vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation will be a career-defining moment that cuts both ways. Roll Call political analyst Nathan Gonzales and his Inside Elections colleague Leah Askarinam explain the dynamics of each campaign. 

Watch: Trump Nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Ratings Change: Two Top Senate Races Shift Out of Toss-Up
North Dakota Moves to Tilts Republican, West Virginia Moves to Tilts Democratic

When it comes to political handicapping, the easiest thing to do would be to put all of the most competitive contests into the Toss-up category and declare them too close to call. Or to argue that because Donald Trump was elected president against the projections, it’s not worth rating any races at all.

But that’s not particularly helpful to people looking for some direction and distinctions in congressional elections.

Nathan’s 10 One-Liners After Tuesday: Winter Has Come for Democrats
What’s running through my head the night of a stunning New York upset

There’s plenty to digest from Tuesday’s primaries in New York, Maryland, Utah and beyond, but here are a few initial thoughts encapsulated in some run-on sentences.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger’s primary loss last month wasn’t a surprise (considering his narrow win in 2016), and his fellow GOP Rep. Mark Sanford’s primary loss in South Carolina two weeks ago wasn’t stunning (considering his personal issues and reputation for opposing President Donald Trump).

Elections, Retirements Could Ransack GOP Baseball Roster
Turnover in the Democratic lineup not expected to be as dramatic

The cold reality of the midterm elections could force Republicans into a completely different roster for next year’s Congressional Baseball Game. Due to retirements and competitive re-election races, over a third of the 36-member GOP team may not be returning in 2019, including more than half of last year’s starting lineup.

Three of the Republicans’ first six batters from 2017 are playing in their last game because they aren’t seeking re-election, including leadoff hitter Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania.

How the Midterms Might Affect the Congressional Baseball Lineup
 

Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales likes his day job covering politics, but he loves when he can combine that with his baseball hobby. With the annual Congressional Baseball Game coming up June 14, Gonzales takes a look at how a wave of retirements and competitive races in November could affect both the Democratic and GOP rosters going forward.

Below is a transcript of the video.

Rating Change: New Jersey 5 Moves Off Competitive List
Now just nine vulnerable Democrats to GOP’s 70

Republican optimism about defeating Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey’s 5th District was fueled by President Donald Trump’s narrow victory in 2016, the congressman’s initial victory over a lackluster incumbent and Republican Steve Lonegan’s deep pockets and past electoral performance in the area.

But that scenario took a turn for the worse when Lonegan lost the June 5 primary and Garden State Republicans nominated former Cresskill Borough Councilman John McCann. He had just $46,000 in his campaign account on May 16 compared to $3.9 million for Gottheimer.

GOP Poll: Donnelly in Position to Win in Indiana
He doesn’t need to win the 3rd District; he just needs to hold down his losses.

After defeating a flawed candidate in 2012 and President Donald Trump winning Indiana in 2016 by nearly 20 points, Sen. Joe Donnelly is widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators in the country. But don’t count him out yet, according to a new Republican poll.

Former state Rep. Mike Braun, the GOP nominee, led Donnelly, 50-42 percent in the 3rd Congressional District, according to a survey of 401 likely voters conducted May 29-31 by WPAi for GOP Rep. Jim Banks.

After Montana, Senate Matchups Nearly Set for November Battles
Biggest question marks in Arizona and Wisconsin

After a year and half of wondering which senators might retire, if the parties would land star recruits, and how messy primaries would play out, the matchups in nearly all of the most competitive Senate races will be set after the votes are counted in Montana on Tuesday.

Republicans in Big Sky Country are likely to select either state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, leaving just a couple of unknowns on the broader Senate map, five months before Election Day.

Podcast: California’s Top Two Primary Looms Over House Democrats
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 11

Democrats have a handful of opportunities to takeover House seats in California, but the abundance of candidates and state’s top two primary system are complicating the party's efforts in a critical state for the majority. Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales and Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman look back at when the system was installed and ahead to the June 5 primaries and how Democrats are trying to avoid an electoral catastrophe.

Show Notes:

3 Ways Nancy Pelosi Won’t Be Speaker Next Year
GOP could well lose the boogeywoman who keeps its base energized

Nancy Pelosi is a drug that Republicans just can’t quit, and the GOP hopes that the threat of her becoming speaker of the House again will awaken any potentially apathetic base voters. While that might work for Republicans for yet another cycle, it might be the last cycle with their favorite boogeywoman, considering there are at least three scenarios in which the California Democrat won’t regain the leadership mantle.

Given the presence of a polarizing President Donald Trump in the White House and historical midterm trends, falling short of a majority in November would be a catastrophe for Democrats.

Rating Changes in 19 House Races, All Toward Democrats
In total, 68 GOP-held seats are now rated competitive

Despite forecasts of a blue tsunami, it’s still not guaranteed that Democrats will win back the House majority. But the playing field of competitive House races is expanding and shifting to almost exclusively Republican territory.

After the latest round of changes, Inside Elections now has 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. And there are at least a couple dozen more GOP-held seats that could develop into competitive races in the months ahead.

DCCC Makes Initial TV Reservations for Fall Fight
Committee is the last of four biggest House-focused groups to make initial buy

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved more than $12.6 million in broadcast television ad time for the last month of the fall campaigns, according to a source familiar with the committee’s independent expenditure buy.

More ad reservations are certainly to come, considering the DCCC spent more than $66 million on TV ads during the 2016 cycle, in addition to an ongoing, seven-figure digital buy, according to the same source.

Ratings Change: 5 GOP Open House Seats Shift Toward Democrats
Recent Republican struggles in special elections don’t augur well for party in fall

It’s dangerous to extrapolate too much from any single special election, but the trend is clear across nearly all of the special contests over the past year: Democrats are over-performing and Republicans are struggling to hold open seats.

The over-performance by Democratic candidates hasn’t been limited by geography, considering they have done better than expected in Montana, Kansas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona, even if they’ve fallen short in all but one of those races.

Which House Races Are the Parties Targeting? Look to the Money, the TV Ad Money
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, an authoritative look at where things stand for 2018

While both parties may talk a big game in terms of their targeted House races, our Roll Call elections analyst has one thing to say: Show me the money. Gonzales breaks down the various campaign groups that are making pricey ad reservations in some media markets and not others, which can provide insight about the seats the parties really see as most flippable.

Below is a transcript of the video.

Nine House Members Pushing for Gubernatorial Promotion
But for many, the road to the governor’s mansion won’t be easy

Just seven of the 50 current governors have previously served in the House, and only five of those were elected directly from the House without holding a statewide office or another job in the interim period. But a handful of lawmakers are hoping to buck the trend and push that total number closer to double digits.

Many of them have to navigate competitive primaries first, and the precedent for members getting elected governor isn’t great. But while most of them are leaving behind safe seats, there’s an upside: becoming their state’s top elected official and departing from an unpopular Congress.

Rock Climbing Candidates, SNL, and Hairy Montana Ads: Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners
What’s running through my head on April 27

Arizona’s 8th District Special (a): The House majority was in play before the special election and it’s in play after the special election (and more thoughts in the aftermath of the race).

Arizona’s 8th District Special (b): Two months ago, we changed our rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican and based on Lesko’s 5-point victory in a 21-point Trump district, that was the right move.