Where House and Presidential Races Converge

Coffman, R-Colo., faces a tough re-election race in a true presidential swing state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s going to be hard for most House races to get any attention this year, with a competitive presidential race and the fight for control of the Senate. But a handful of districts have the luxury of not only hosting a competitive House race, but also being swing areas of presidential battleground states.  

In states such as New York, California or Minnesota, House strategists and campaigns are largely on their own to motivate voters and get them to the polls. But in a few districts, House strategists and candidates can focus on persuading voters, since the presidential nominees, national parties and, in some cases, the Senate campaigns will have done the heavy lifting to get out the vote.  

Obama’s Empty Campaign Threat on Gun Control

Obama listens to a question from Pintal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu during a town hall event on Thursday. (Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images)

In the heat of his push for more gun control, President Barack Obama threatened to withhold support from anyone, including Democrats, who didn’t support “common-sense” changes. But based on the political realities of this cycle, his comments aren’t likely to dramatically impact Senate races.  

“Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen,” Obama wrote in a New York Times op-ed . “I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”  

Top Races in 2016: The West

The race to replace Reid will be one of the most competitive of the cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This is the eighth in a series looking at the most competitive House and Senate races in 2016. The West region covers Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.  

Nevada Senate: The race to replace Minority Leader Harry Reid should be one of the best in the country. The parties are confident in their recruits, both of whom have clear primary paths. The general election features battle-tested GOP Rep. Joe Heck against Democratic state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has been elected statewide twice against nominal opposition. Republicans could use a victory in Nevada to cancel out a loss in another state, but it won’t be easy in a presidential year.  

Hispanic Voters Only One Problem for GOP

Obama carried Hispanic voters 71-27 percent over Romney in 2012. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans’ decline with Hispanic voters over the past two presidential races is undeniable and improvement with the growing demographic is an imperative to improve the party’s White House prospects. But a new interactive tool helps demonstrate that the GOP’s Electoral College challenge goes well beyond the party's problem with Latino voters.

David Wasserman wasn’t joking when he  tweeted  that the  Swing-O-Matic  would be “hours of fun for political numbers nerds.” The Cook Political Report’s House Editor teamed up with FiveThirtyEight to create a  fun, interactive tool  to try to project the 2016 presidential race.

Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others

Democrats believe Heitkamp could be a competitive candidate for governor but would loosen the party's hold on her Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats want to hold the White House, take back the majorities in the Senate and the House, and gain ground in governorships. But what happens when those are conflicting goals?  

In Florida, strategists at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are excited Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for the state’s open seat. But Murphy is leaving behind a competitive House district that will be difficult for strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to hold next fall.  

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.  

Heck Decision Prompts Rating Changes in 2 Nevada Races

Republican chances to win Nevada's Senate seat improve slightly with Heck in the race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s decision to run for the Senate is no surprise, but now that he is officially in the race, we are changing our rating in two Nevada races.  

The race for Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s open seat was already competitive, but Republican chances improve slightly with Heck’s decision. He is a battle-tested incumbent who won’t be easy for Democrats to pigeonhole as being too conservative for the state. Heck will likely face former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has been elected statewide twice in races that weren’t particularly difficult. But she should benefit from presidential year turnout next year and Democrats believe the opportunity to elect the first Latina senator will inspire Hispanic voters to go to the polls in larger numbers.  

Top Congressional Races in 2016: The West

Heck is poised to jump into the race for Senate seat in Nevada that Reid is giving up. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The West Region includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Nevada Senate:  Democrats have only a pair of vulnerable Senate seats, but retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s is one of them. GOP Rep. Joe Heck looks poised to enter the race at any moment, while Democrats are likely to nominate former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. The last Senate race in a presidential year was in 2012 when appointed-Sen. Dean Heller defeated Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley by a single point. Democrats are far more confident in Cortez Masto as a candidate, but she is relatively untested for a statewide office holder. Heck has been in tough races, but never statewide. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating of the race is Tossup/Tilts Democratic but it is creeping close to a Pure Tossup.  

Nevada’s 4th District:  GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is the most vulnerable incumbent in the House. He won a late-breaking race in 2014, 49 percent to 46 percent, over Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a cycle in which Democrats completely collapsed in the state. But President Barack Obama won the 4th by 10 points in 2012 and 15 points in 2008 and Democrats are clamoring for the nomination. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores and wealthy philanthropist Susie Lee are in the race and may be joined by former state Speaker John Oceguera. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as Tossup/Tilts Democratic .  

Why Titus Won't Run for Reid's Senate Seat

Titus will seek re-election in Nevada's 1st District instead of running for the Senate seat that Reid is vacating. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some jobs are too good to risk. Even for a Senate bid.  

That's how Nevada Rep. Dina Titus feels about her job representing the state's 1st District.  

Heck Close to Senate Bid

Heck has told people he plans to run for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:38 a.m. | Rep. Joe Heck has told some Nevada Republicans he is close to deciding to run for Senate, a source told CQ Roll Call Tuesday, and the conversations have prompted speculation among Nevada Republicans that an announcement could come sooner rather than later.  

Heck would be a top recruit for Republicans looking to take the seat being vacated by Sen. Harry Reid. The congressman had initially said he would not run, but recently declared he was reconsidering.