Democrats poised to cement hold of majority in House

House Republicans’ fate on Election Day looks grim.

Democrats appear to be improving the odds of cementing their hold on the majority as Nov. 3 draws closer.

Republicans would need a net gain of 17 seats to retake the House this year, but they are more likely to lose seats in an anticipated Democratic surge.

For months, strategists and pollsters have detected Democratic momentum amid the raging pandemic and President Trump’s struggles in the polls.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is so confident in the Democrats’ odds for this upcoming election in her chamber that she already is planning for the 2022 midterm elections.

“This year, I’m trying to win it two years in advance — by being so substantial in this election that as soon as we start into the next year, people will see our strength,” Mrs. Pelosi told The Associated Press. “We intend to hold the House and grow our numbers.”

The California Democrat also committed to running again for speaker in the next Congress.

Mr. Trump, however, remains confident — arguing there will be a surprise red surge.

“We’ll take back the House, we’ll hold the Senate, we’ll hold the White House,” he told reporters at the White House. “If you look at the polls that came out today and yesterday, and I guess a lot had to do with the debate or a lot had to with the rallies, I don’t know, but you take a look at the polls,” he said. “Look how we’re doing in Wisconsin, look how we’re doing in Iowa, look how we’re doing in Ohio, look how we’re doing in Florida. Look how we’re doing everywhere, practically.”

The latest sign of an approaching blue wave came when Democrats’ odds improved in 11 House races last week, according to The Cook Political Report, either making Democratic incumbents safer or by whittling away at a Republican’s standing. In July, 20 seats shifted in their favor.

There are some glimmers of hope for Republicans.

Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Peter DeFazio of Oregon, both of whom are members of the Democratic leadership team, find themselves in tougher races than was expected earlier in the year, though they remain the heavy favorites.

A Republican strategist highlighted several swing-district Democrats — including Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Max Rose of New York and Anthony Brindisi of New York — who are in highly competitive races as some of their top targets.

In the Cook Political Report analysis, it was estimated that Democrats stood to gain anywhere from 5 to 15 seats in 2020.

And they aren’t the only forecaster to have their models point in that direction.

The political statistics website FiveThirtyEight predicts Democrats will expand their majority with a net gain of four seats. An analysis by The Economist magazine predicted Democrats could come into the 117th Congress with 243 seats — a whopping gain of 11 seats.

Democrats are defending about 30 seats in districts where Mr. Trump won in 2016.

At this point last year, Republicans banked on Mr. Trump’s coattails to help flip some of them. But now, strategists see the president as a drag on the rest of the GOP ticket.

Michael McAdams, press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said not to trust the polls and political forecasts.

“They’ve been wrong before and they’re gonna be wrong again. Pundits don’t decide elections, voters do,” he said. “We’re going to continue highlighting the radical agenda that House Democrats are trying to pass. Whether it’s defunding the police, raising taxes or pushing for socialized programs like government-run health care and the Green New Deal.”

Last month, House Republicans rolled out their fall campaign agenda, with an emphasis on rebuilding the economy, spending on policing and providing resources to combat the coronavirus.

Even with the odds as they are, the GOP hopes for more success stories like Rep. Mike Garcia, who won back a swing district in California during a special election to replace former Rep. Katie Hill. He’s in a heated race of his own though, fighting for a full term in that seat.

While Republicans are hammering on the Democrats’ on their record in the majority, Democrats are emphasizing health care as their top priority as the Supreme Court prepares to take up another challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

“Democrats have outworked, out-hustled, and out-raised Republicans all cycle long. Our candidates will keep using their resource advantage they have built over the last 22 months to push deep into Republican territory and hold Republicans for trying to rip away Americans’ health coverage during a deadly pandemic,” said DCCC press secretary Robyn Patterson.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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