We are barely a month into 2017 and the DCCC has already released its targets for 2018. Many of the seats represent reach seats for the party that will be pared down by November of next year but it represents the current roadmap the party sees to the majority.
What a road-map it is. In all, 59 seats are on the list. Not only do Democrats have all 23 Trump/Clinton districts on the list but they have some deeply red, rural districts as well. Eight of the districts on the list voted by Trump by 15 points or more. This includes Alabama’s 2nd CD which went for Trump by a whopping 32 points. Even if Martha Roby goes after soon to be AG Jeff Sessions Senate seat the district is a tough climb for any kind of Democrat.
Not to be left out, perennial Democratic target Chris Collins in upstate NY-27 is on the list. Trump carried it by 25 points and Democrats have expressed confidence in ousting Collins (only to be disappointed every time). Democrats are even challenging Alex Mooney in West Virginia’s 2nd CD. Trump won the district by 36 points and the state by 42. Other deeply red districts on the list include the 8th and 9th but at least those seats only went to Trump by 15 and 12 points respectively.
Obviously, Democrats are relying on Trump becoming unpopular and helping them in the Midterms. The party also appears to at least be making an effort to appeal to blue-collar voters and set the stage for a comeback if the President falters. The Senate map is not looking good for Democrats in 2018 so their best hope is to capture the house.
Along with deeply red and purple districts across the nation the party is making an even greater effort to woo over suburban, educated voters. Democrats must have been heartened by last year and it shows in their targeting of KS-3 (Clinton won it by a point) and NJ-11 (represented by a longtime GOP moderate).
Of course, Democrats are targeting consistent targets like CO-6 (Mike Coffman) and VA-10 (Barbara Comstock) among others. The party is also making a play in majority-minority, South Florida based CD 26, John Katko’s NY-24 and WA-3 (among others). In all three districts the GOP incumbent strongly outran Trump.
It should be noted that seven of the 23 Clinton/Republican districts being targeted did not vote for Obama. This includes districts as diverse as WA-3 and KS-3. This could represent the Trump/Republican split I have noted in the past.
Just because Democrats have a significant number of targets does not mean they will automatically be successful. According to NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt, Republicans won Clinton districts by a 14 point average. In addition, Democrats will be defending 12 Trump/Democrat districts in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. Republicans contested very few of them seriously last year and will probably make an effort to do so next year.
There is simply no way Democrats will target 59 seats up to November of next year. Not with a political consulting class that has yet to figure out how to talk to voters outside the coasts and Nevada/Colorado. So the party finds itself with a plethora of targets but an inability to capitalize on them even if Trump is unpopular by next year.
Admittedly, much could change and Democrats could recruit solid candidates, develop an effective national message beyond “Trump is a racist” and put together a coalition of urban, suburban and rural voters like they did in 2006 and 2008. But it is much too early to predict whether they will or won’t.
See the full list here.