The contest for US House of Representatives may be the most riveting campaign to observe in 2024, while it won’t consume quite as much oxygen as the presidential election.
A rematch, which the majority of Americans are dreading, appears to be in the cards for the White House race. Whether Democrats from red states can stand firm and protect their party’s majority will likely determine which party controls the US Senate. In order to regain control of the Senate, Republicans will need to gain one or two seats, depending on the outcome of the presidential election. They are already well-positioned to take over the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in historically red West Virginia.
A more delicate balance of power is required in Washington, however, as the Republican majority in the House continues to dwindle. At the present time, Republicans hold 219 seats in the House, while Democrats hold 212 (four seats are vacant). A tiny majority presents unique obstacles, as demonstrated by the recent dysfunction in Congress, which included last year’s speakership upheaval and the blocked border and foreign aid bills.
To capture control of the House, Democrats require a net gain of five seats. However, if they manage to secure George Santos’ vacated seat in New York during Tuesday’s special election, that number might be reduced to four. Despite his expulsion from the House last year, Santos is still actively campaigning. Democrats are attempting to cast the Republican candidate for the vacant seat in a negative light by utilising the disgraced ex-lawmaker in their campaign ads. We will be watching that special election intently for signs about how this fall’s elections could play out, particularly in the crucial Empire State. It’s in a suburban district that President Joe Biden would have carried in 2020.
What makes California and New York so popular
The 2024 House campaign will revolve around two states: New York and California. Combined, these states have the highest concentration of Republican MPs serving in districts that Biden would have won in 2020. (The district borders in 2022 may not have been identical to those when Biden stood for office in 2020 due to changes in congressional maps made after the 2020 census.) The so-called “crossover districts” are easy pickings for the two major parties since they are held by members of the opposing party to the presidential nominee who previously won the district.
A national Republican strategist stated, “California and New York are critical to holding and keeping a larger majority.” (1988). “It makes me feel good because we have some of our best candidates in those states.”
The Democratic Party recognises the importance of the two states, but they also recognise that they hold the key to retaking the House.
Furthermore, the two major parties have come to an understanding regarding the size of this year’s House battlefield: just a small percentage of the 435 districts in the country are expected to have competitive races. One reason for this is the scarcity of crossover districts in today’s politically nationalised (and, admittedly, gerrymandered) landscape. Aside from Santos, these 22 seats are held by 17 Republicans (read: targets of the Democratic attack) and only 5 Democrats (read: targets of the Republican offensive).
When asked about the likelihood of the Republican Party maintaining its slim majority, strategist Cam Savage stated, “I would say that people should be concerned.”. First and foremost, this is a very polarised period. As a result, splitting tickets becomes a monumental task. Perhaps more so now than at any point in our nation’s past.
An early announcement last year by House Majority PAC, a super PAC associated with House Democratic leadership, revealed that it would be investing $45 million in New York and $35 million in California, highlighting the significance of these two coastal states. With the bold statement, “The House will be won or lost in Blue States,” the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund also debuted a Blue States Project last year.
Elections on the Inside with According to Nathan L. Gonzales, half of the 12 House seats are in California or New York. However, the House majority might also be swayed by other seats in states such as North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington.
Positions that the Democrats are aiming to win
Five freshman Republicans from New York—Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, and Brandon Williams—are serving in Biden districts.
Representatives Young Kim, Michelle Steel, David Valadao, Mike Garcia, and John Duarte are five more from California.
Two of them are from Arizona: Juan Ciscomani and David Schweikert.
The remaining members are Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Tom Kean of New Jersey, Virginia’s Jen Kiggans, and Nebraska’s Don Bacon.
Those crossover districts are heavily represented on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s original list of seventeen “Red to Blue” candidates. Donors see those on this list as the party’s top recruits, and being on it usually means getting fundraising and operational aid from the DCCC.
There are a total of eight opponents to the DCCC’s red-to-blue stance: four in California, three in New York (among them is former Rep. Tom Suozzi, who was nominated to replace Santos in the special election), two in Iowa, and one in each of Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. An open seat in Michigan is being defended by Democrats, but one Red to Blue candidate is vying for it.
Additional districts in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are included in the DCCC’s target list, which is a more comprehensive list of approximately 35 seats it hopes to put into play. For example, deciding where to run ads usually happens later in the year, so just because seats are on a target list doesn’t imply they will get a lot of money.
Votes that Republicans are aiming to secure
This year, the Republican campaign arm for the House produces a comparable list of targets, which includes 37 offensive seats. Because the GOP has already made gains in blue states and there are fewer crossover districts to aim for this year, the number of seats they are seeking is significantly lower than the 70 seats they were targeted in the previous campaign.
The first group of targets for Republicans consists of the five Democratic representatives from districts that supported Donald Trump. Members range from first-term legislators to seasoned veterans, and they hail from all corners of the nation.
Representatives Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington and Mary Peltola of Alaska are the newcomers. Three terms have been served by Maine Representative Jared Golden. Longer stays have been held by Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright and Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur; Kaptur became the longest-serving woman in Congress last year.