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While much has been made of the Blue Wave, the full impact can be seen through the performance of Republican incumbents on November 6. And not just the 28 who lost their seats, but Republican performance across the board.
Of the 197 Republican incumbents who ran for re-election in 2018, 180 of them (91 percent) performed worse than they did in 2016. If you look at the numbers for all Republicans, it is clear that the 2018 election was an even larger repudiation of Trump than it initially seemed.
For fairness's sake, I have left Republicans who were unopposed in 2016 out of the calculations. There were 14, mostly in the South. Only three states with Republican incumbents saw an improvement on their performance from 2016: Alaska (Don Young, up 3.7%), Wyoming (Liz Cheney, up 3.4%) and Mississippi (up 1.5%). Every other state saw a net average drop in support for Republican congressmen.
The single biggest loser of Election 2018 was Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who saw his vote percentage drop from 71.1 to 45.9, losing to Colin Allred. The worst state by far was Oregon, where Rep. Greg Walden saw his vote drop 15 percentage points.
In the Southern states, Republican performance was off by 4 percentage points on average. The worst states were Arkansas (off 8.5), Texas (off 7.6, two seats lost) and Virginia (off 7.6, three seats lost). Illinois led the pack among northern states, with Republicans down almost 10 full percentage points. New Jersey, where the delegation is now 11 to 1 Democratic, was off by 8.6 percent. Iowa, where Democrats picked up two seats, was down 8.1 percent.
Here is the breakdown for the other states:
- New York (9): - 7.7
- Kentucky (5): - 7.7
- Nevada (1): - 7.1
- Arizona (4): - 6.9
- Ohio (11): - 6.5
- Maryland (1): - 6.4
- California (12):- 6.3
- Oklahoma (4): - 5.4
- Maine (1): - 5.3
- Minnesota (3): - 5.7
- Montana (1): - 5.1
- Utah (4): - 4.7
- Colorado (4): - 4.4
- West Virginia (2): - 4.3
- Michigan (8): - 4.1
- Wisconsin (5): - 4.0
- Nebraska (2): - 3.1
- Pennsylvania (5): - 3.1
- Missouri (6):- 3.0
- Washington (4):- 2.2
- Kansas (3):- 2.1
- Indiana (5):- 1.9
- Idaho (1):- 1.8
Only 10 Republicans had gains over 1 percent in 2018:
- Walter Jones (NC 3) who ran unopposed
- Martha Roby (AL 2), with a 12.7 percent jump from 48.8% to 61.5%
- Dan Newshouse (WA 4; 57.6% to 64.5%)
- Lloyd Smucker, running in a new district (PA 11, 53.8% to 58.6%)
- Steve Palazzo (MS 4, 65% to 69.6%)
- Don Young and Liz Cheney
- Don Bacon (NE 2, 48.9% to 51.6%)
- Roger Marshall (KS 1, 65.8% to 68.4%)
- Jack Bergman (MI 1, 54.9% to 56.3%)
- Ted Yoho (FL 3, 56.6% to 57.6%)
Top 10 Target Seats
Based on 2018 elections, here are the 10 most likely Democratic targets for 2020:
- New York 27: Rep. Chris Collins in on the verge of being convicted for insider trading. This is most likely the first special election of 2019. Unfortunately, the district is conservative, but Nate McMurray, an attorney from Grand Island, did run an excellent race against Collins. Cathy Hochul won a special election here in 2011.
- Minnesota 1: A classic swing district in southern Minnesota. The seat was open because Democratic Rep. Tim Walz ran for Governor (he won). Jim Hagedorn, son of a former congressman, won the district with 50.2 percent.
- Minnesota 8: The northeast corner of the state. The seat was open because Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan left to run for Lieutenant Governor (he lost). The seat was won by Pete Stauber, a former professional hockey player, with 50.7 percent of the vote.
- Georgia 7: Rob Woodall, elected in 2010, represents this district. Democrats heavily targeted the district, which contains Gwinett County, one of the few counties in the country to go from Republican to Democratic in the 2016 presidential election. Woodall defeated Carolyn Bourdeaux by only 400 votes. His percentage fell almost 10 points from 2016.
- Michigan 6: Fred Upton is the dean of the Michigan House delegation, elected in 1992. Upton barely got over 50 percent, even though he beat his Democratic opponent by 4.5 points. Upton may be up for retirement; he will be 67 in 2020.
- Iowa 4: Steve King, one of the most hated Republicans in Congress for his bigotry, narrowly defeated J.D. Scholten, winning 50.4 percent of the vote, a drop of almost 11 percentage points from 2016. Democrats won Iowa's other three House seats, leaving King the only Republican left in Iowa—that puts a huge target on his back for 2020.
- Illinois 13: Rodney Davis, elected in 2012, defeated Democrat Betsy Londrigan by less than 4000 votes. His 50.5 percent represents a 9 point drop from his 2016 performance. Five Democrats ran against Davis in the 2018 primary.
- Kentucky 6: Andy Barr faced off against marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, and she came close to beating him, coming within 10,000 votes. Barr received 51 percent, a 10 percent drop from his 2016 performance.
- Texas 10: After winning two House seats in Texas in 2018, Texas Democrats could target McCaul, who received only 50.9 percent of the vote. He beat Democrat Mike Siegel by 12,000 votes.
- Pennsylvania 10: The redrawing of Pennsylvania's congressional maps helped Democrats flip five seats in 2018. The closest they lost was PA 10, which elected Scott Perry with 51.4 percent of the vote, a 14 point drop from his performance in a different district in 2016.
Other seats likely on Democratic strategists lists are Ohio 1 (Steve Chabot, only 51.8 percent), Ohio 12 (Troy Balderson, only 51.6 percent). California 22 (Devin Nunes, who dropped 14 points to 53.9 percent) and California 50 (Duncan Hunter, who drop 10 points to 52.8 percent).