Our Second Forecast Update

Since our previous forecast update on March 15th, 8 more states have had their candidacy filings deadlines pass. These deadlines were in the states of Maine, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Missouri and South Dakota. We have updated our forecasts for both state legislative and federal/gubernatorial contests for these candidacy lists, besides South Dakota, which will have a list available on Monday and will thus be included in the next biweekly update on April 15th. Illinois also concluded its primaries and we have named the nominees in both the federal and state legislative races.

We do not have any rating changes in our ratings for any federal or gubernatorial contests, but we do have 23 rating changes in state legislative races. Of these rating changes, 19 of them are because of seats we’ve recently identified as open seats where the incumbent is not running for re-election. We are counting CO HD-38 as an open seat because any seat that does not have the incumbent who won in the 2016/2018 election fits our definition of open, as there is still an incumbency advantage lost. 3 of the rating changes are because of recruitment, which we’ll delve into in each district. Finally, the last rating change is in PA HD-18, where a special election was held in the Philadelphia suburbs, where Republicans held onto the Hillary Clinton-carried district. More on that special election here from Pennsylvania expert Ben Forstate.

Here are our ratings changes for districts which we’ve identified as open seats since our March 15th update.

  1. CO SD-27 | Toss-Up → Tilt D
  2. CO HD-38 | Toss-Up → Tilt D
  3. MA HD-Fourth Hampen | Safe D → Lean D
  4. MA SD-Second Hampden & Hampshire | Safe R → Tilt D
  5. ME SD-30 | Lean D → Tilt D
  6. ME SD-34 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  7. ME HD-78 | Lean D → Toss-Up
  8. ME HD-88 | Tilt D → Toss-Up
  9. ME HD-106 | Lean R → Tilt R
  10. ME HD-130 | Safe R → Likely R
  11. ME HD-143 | Safe D → Tilt D
  12. ME HD-147 | Safe R → Lean R
  13. MO HD-15 | Safe D → Likely D
  14. MO HD-15 | Likely R → Lean R
  15. MO SD-01 | Likely D → Lean D
  16. NY SD-2 | Likely R → Lean R
  17. SC HD-115 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  18. SC HD-116 | Likely D → Lean D
  19. UT HD-54 | Tilt R → Toss-Up

Recruitment, as mentioned before in our first update, is an important factor in our ratings. Here are the rating changes where recruitment has resulted in a rating change.

  1. ME HD-120 | Likely I → Toss-Up ; Filings show a 3-way race between the Republican-caucusing Independent incumbent, a Republican and a Democrat, which creates a lot of uncertainty in the outcome. Higgins, the Independent incumbent, may retire: he has not yet announced whether he is seeing re-election.
  2. MO SD-15 | Likely R → Lean R ; Democrats have a strong recruit in State Rep. Deb Lavender in this Democratic-trending district in the St. Louis suburbs, though Republicans still ultimately remain the favorite.
  3. SC HD-44 | Toss-Up → Tilt R ; Republicans finally got a candidate to run against Mandy Powers Norrell (D), the four-term incumbent who hasn’t faced an opponent since 2012. She’s in a heavily Republican district, the most Republican district that any Democrat represents in South Carolina’s state legislature. Even when she was the running mate for 2018 South Carolina Governor Democratic nominee James Smith, he lost the district by double digits. We don’t expect Powers Norrell to lose by double digits, but we’d definitely say the Republicans start out as the slight favorite in this district.

As a result of the above rating changes, the gap has widened between the net gains in State Senate and State House seats. Republicans expanded their net gain in State House seats by 1: they were projected to flip 9 seats in the March 15th update, and are now projected to flip 10. Democrats on the other hand expanded their projected net gain in State Senate seats by 2: they were projected to flip 11 seats in the March 15th update, and are now projected to flip 13. Please note that these flips do not count seats which are projected to flip that are held by Independents, i.e. WV HD-60 and NE SD-11.