With less than a month to go until November's midterm elections, the battles for both chambers of Congress are diverging.
Republicans' hold on their Senate majority appears to have tightened in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, but Democrats are favorites to seize control of the House as more key GOP-held seats tilt away from Republicans, according to top election forecasters.
Recent developments have only strengthened this year's prevailing narrative: that Democrats will likely struggle to navigate the Senate even as party enthusiasm helps them unseat vulnerable House Republicans across the country. Split partisan control of Congress appears to be the most likely scenario when the new session starts in January.
Democrats need to flip 23 GOP-held districts to take control of the House. If Republicans can stop Democrats from taking two Senate seats — a manageable task as Democrats and independents who caucus with them defend 26 seats — they will hold their Senate majority.
Of course, much can change in 3½ weeks, but here is how top forecasters viewed the midterm battlefield as of Thursday afternoon:
Republicans saw positive signs in a few races in recent days. Sabato's Crystal Ball moved the North Dakota race to leans Republican on Thursday as polls increasingly show Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp facing a deficit against GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer. The senator is considered the member of her party most likely to lose this year.
Separate Quinnipiac University and New York Times/Siena College polls this week showed Democratic upstart Rep. Beto O'Rourke trailing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz by 9 percentage points. The polls are only the latest to show O'Rourke at a disadvantage in the red stronghold despite massive fundraising and Democratic enthusiasm.
In the race to succeed swing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona, a new survey shows GOP Rep. Martha McSally leading Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. The race is one of Democrats' two best chances to pick up a Republican-held seat. Still, Sinema has a slight lead in an average of recent polls, according to RealClearPolitics.
Forecasters saw a handful of House races moving toward Democrats in recent days.
Both Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball moved Kansas' 3rd District contest to leans Democratic. A New York Times/Siena College poll found Democratic challenger Sharice Davids leading GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder by 8 percentage points.
Florida's 26th District moved to the toss-up category at Cook. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is defending his seat against Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The Democrat's standing in polls of the district, which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, has improved recently.
Cook also shifted a rare battle of two incumbents in Pennsylvania's 17th District to "likely" Democratic. Due to redistricting, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb faces Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus. Lamb, who has strong favorability ratings and a fundraising advantage, leads by double digits, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.