With most of 2018's primaries done, top election forecasters agree Democrats have an edge in the fight for a House majority.
Still, a lot could happen between now and the Nov. 6 midterm elections to help Republicans hang on to enough seats to keep control of the chamber.
The Democratic Party has a clear task in front of it: win at least 23 GOP-held seats and flip the House. History and current trends virtually guarantee Republicans will lose seats in November. The question is whether Democrats will take enough seats to gain control of the chamber, or fall short in their effort.
Buoyed by President Donald Trump's relatively poor approval rating, lackluster views on the congressional GOP's policy priorities and historical difficulties for the president's party in midterms, Democrats have about an 8-percentage point edge on national generic ballots asking voters which party they would prefer, according to a FiveThirtyEight average. One of the data site's forecasts, which takes into account polling, fundraising, voting history and analyst ratings at the House district level, gives Democrats a 68.5 percent chance of taking the House. It projects an average gain of 31 seats.
"I do think the likeliest outcome is [Democrats] take a majority of some size. ... You'd rather be the Democrats than the Republicans now in the race for the House," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a top nonpartisan election analysis site that assigns ratings to every House race.
But Democrats have hardly locked up a House majority with more than two months to go. An improvement in Trump's approval rating or for Republicans in the generic ballot, along with surprise twists at the national or district level, could help the GOP to cling to its House majority, according to Kondik and Leah Askarinam, a reporter and analyst at top nonpartisan analysis site Inside Elections.
Democrats have little chance of taking a majority in the Senate, as the party's senators and independents who caucus with them defend 26 seats, including 10 in states Trump won in 2016. Only nine Republican Senate seats are up for grabs this year. In that environment, the fight for House control has become even more important.
The stakes are huge for the president and his agenda. A Democratic House could not only block Trump's priorities, but also push for its own goals such as patching up the Affordable Care Act or reversing some GOP tax cuts for corporations. Crucially, Democrats would have the power to start committee investigations or push for impeachment — an issue the party is taking pains to avoid now as it tries not to stir up Republican voter enthusiasm.