I maintain in this week’s podcast that Democrats can run and win their 2018 campaigns entirely on the Republican health care bill. Cautiously backing up my claim is Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which has moved 18 Republican-held U.S. House districts to more competitive categories:
Democrats are hopeful that Republicans’ vote last week to pass the American Health Care Act provides them an argument to use in next year’s election. Only 20 House Republicans voted against the bill, which is notpollingwell and which Democrats are angling to use as a cudgel against the GOP.
The AHCA’s passage in the House serves as a news peg for us to move a number of Republican-held House districts into more competitive rating categories. That doesn’t mean the AHCA will be an anchor on GOP incumbents next year. It’s just too early to know, for reasons we’ll get into. But broader historical patterns suggest that the Democrats have a chance to win the House next year, and health care could be part of a potential winning message. This weeks’ changes align our ratings with our overall belief that the House is in play, even while noting that the true level of danger Republicans face is as yet unclear [Kyle Kondik, “House 2018: Health Care Vote Gives Democrats Another Midterm Argument,” Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 2017.05.11].
South Dakota’s at-large seat is not one of the shifters; it’s one of the 276 districts—141 Republican, 135 Democratic—that Sabato’s team considers ungettable.
It is within the remaining 159 districts, which make up about 37% of the House’s total, where majorities are won and lost. Of these districts — which includes Peterson’s even though his district is technically outside of the range specified above — Republicans control 100, and Democrats control 59. Putting as many of those 100 “on the table” is [DCCC chair Rep. Ben Ray] Luján’s goal. Democrats need to win about a quarter of those seats, 24, to win the House, while not losing any of their own seats in the process [Kondik, 2017.05.11].
But hey, Chris Martian, or other enterprising South Dakota Democrat, if you want to put South Dakota’s House seat into Sabato’s gettable column, Kristi Noem and Donald Trump are writing your campaign script for you.