Money pours into key races as Democrats maintain good odds to win the House

National groups have piled cash into a handful of key races in the midterm elections' final stretch as Democrats and Republicans jockey for control of Congress on Nov. 6.

Top election forecasters view Democrats as favorites to take control of the House with 11 days until voters cast their ballots.

Control of both chambers, and critical influence over the country's policy path, could come down to only a few contests. The areas where Democratic and Republican outside groups have filtered the most money in recent days — from the Detroit and Houston suburbs to rural Maine — show the races that the parties think will make or break their fortunes next month.

As of now, prognosticators see a good chance of Democrats flipping the 23 GOP-held seats they need to take a House majority. They conversely believe the party has little hope of winning the two net seats needed to gain a majority in the Senate. Groups backing both parties have used their cash stashes to press an advantage or control damage in the midterms' final days.

Here's how forecasters saw the fight for the House as of Friday morning, as national organizations placed their chips for the last days of the election season:

The fight for the House

  • The House battlefield has expanded as Election Day draws closer. Nonpartisan forecasters Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball list 72 contests as competitive. Republicans currently hold 68 of those seats — underscoring their risk on Nov. 6.
  • Democrats' edge on the national generic ballot sits at about 8 percentage points, virtually unchanged from a week ago, according to a rolling average from data journalism website FiveThirtyEight. The polls assess which party voters are more likely to support in their congressional districts.
  • FiveThirtyEight's forecast gives Democrats about an 84 percent chance of winning House control — slightly lower than a week ago. The site projects an average gain of 39 seats, which would push the party past the majority threshold. Of course, it still leaves a 16 percent chance the GOP holds enough districts to keep control of the chamber. The site's top editor himself, Nate Silver, has stressed that a polling error in this year's surveys could drastically alter the outcomes.
  • Cook currently favors Democrats to win 17 Republican-held seats, and gives the GOP an edge to take two Democrat-held districts. If Democrats gain those 15 net seats as expected, they would have to gain only another eight among the 30 races the site lists as toss-ups.
  • Sabato lists 212 districts favoring Democrats — which would amount to a net gain of 17 seats. If those results hold, the party would have to take only an additional six districts out of the 21 the site classifies as toss-ups in order to reach the 23-seat mark.

The races where outside groups spent the most money from Oct. 15 through Thursday morning are among the handful that will determine which party controls the House. Those national organizations include both the official House Republican and Democratic campaign arms as well as political action committees that can spend cash in support of, but not coordinate with, candidates.

As Democrats largely drub Republicans in direct campaign committee fundraising, national GOP groups have stepped in to fill the void. But outside organizations have been active on the Democratic side. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg said Friday morning his political action committee would put another $10 million into the final midterm push, primarily toward a national TV ad supporting the party.

About $2.3 million in outside money flowed into Minnesota's 1st District race from Oct. 15 to Thursday morning, more than any other race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Democratic-held seat, vacated by Rep. Tim Walz's retirement to run for governor, gives the GOP one of its only pickup opportunities of the cycle. Democratic former Defense Department official Dan Feehan aims to hold the seat against Trump-backed Republican Jim Hagedorn, who narrowly lost to Walz in 2016.

The other expensive House races include Michigan's 11th District, where outside groups spent nearly $2 million in recent days as Democratic former Obama administration official Haley Stevens tries to flip a GOP-held seat in suburban Detroit. She faces pro-Trump businesswoman Lena Epstein. Republican Rep. Dave Trott is retiring.

National groups have also poured big money into the 22nd District in upstate New York, where GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney defends her seat against Democratic state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. Next comes Texas' 7th District outside of Houston, where Republican Rep. John Culberson faces a challenge from Democratic lawyer Lizzie Fletcher.

Maine's 2nd District rounds out the five most expensive House races by outside spending during that stretch. GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin aims to hold off Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden in a vast northern piece of the state.

As Election Day draws nearer and numerous races gain more clarity, forecasters' ratings for some races have moved at the same time. Both Cook and Sabato moved their rating for Illinois' 12th District from toss-up to lean Republican. The shifts come as polls have looked increasingly favorable for GOP Rep. Mike Bost against Democratic challenger Brendan Kelly. President Donald Trump will hold a rally in the district on Saturday.

Both political websites saw a couple GOP-held seats moving into, or at least closer to, competitive territory. Both changed their rating on Florida's 6th District, which was vacated by GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis' resignation, to lean Republican from likely GOP. Democrat Nancy Soderberg aims to flip the seat against Republican Michael Waltz.

The two outlets also shifted their rating on Arizona's 8th District to likely Republican from solid or safe GOP. Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko, who won a special election for the seat earlier this year, faces off again with Democrat Hiral Tipirneni. Lesko won the special election by about 5 percentage points in May.

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