GOP could take House without flipping any seats in Minnesota

WASHINGTON — Every major election forecaster agrees on the following sentence: Republicans are favored to win back the House — and they don’t need to take a single seat in Minnesota to do it.

“The ones we’re watching are [Tim] Walz and [Jim] Oberstar, and I think that Republicans could gain 50 or 60 plus [seats] and not win either of those,” said Nathan Gonzales, the lead House analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report.

 “I think that if they win either of those then they’re in for an even bigger night.”

Republicans need to win a net 39 seats to win control of the House. Rothenberg projects Republicans to easily accomplish that, taking a net 55 to 65 seats — however they also project each Minnesota incumbent to hold their seats.

Rothenberg is hardly alone in that forecast, according to a MinnPost review of projections by five major national election handicappers.

Four of those five — the Cook Political Report, New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball“ and the Rothenberg Political Report — all agreed that the GOP was favored to take the House, with a net gain of between 48 and 65 seats. Those projections factor in toss-ups that are expected to fall one way or the other.

The lone outlier, CQ, does not assign toss-ups to either column, so it more conservatively projects a net of 20 Republican takeovers with an additional 41 seats rated as toss-ups.

Analysts say it would be unlikely but not impossible for Republicans to pick up a seat or two in Minnesota but not take the House.

 
Party control
Net GOP
wins
Walz-
Demmer
Oberstar-Cravaack
Bachmann
-Clark
Last updated
Cook
Republican
48 to 60
Lean
Dem
Lean
Dem
Likely
GOP
26-Oct
CQ
Toss-up
At least 20, with 41 toss-ups
Lean
Dem
Likely
Dem
Safe
GOP
28-Oct
538
Republican
53
Safe
Dem
Safe
Dem
Safe
GOP
27-Oct
Rothenberg
Republican
55 to 65
Dem
Favored
Dem
Favored
Safe
GOP
22-Oct
Sabato
Republican
55
Lean
Dem
Likely
Dem
Likely
GOP
28-Oct

“Given that Minnesota is basically a Democratic state, and that President Obama has maintained his popularity there to a greater degree than in other states he carried, any Democratic House losses in the state [Walz or Oberstar] would indicate a strong GOP tide,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “However, it is foolhardy to base a national projection on a race or two in one state. Every election contains anomalies.”

Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates at least 58 Democratic-held seats as more vulnerable than Walz’s in the 1st, which he says “leans” Democratic. Just three Republican-held seats lean toward Democrats in his rankings.

That means if everything goes exactly according to Sabato’s script, Republicans will win a net 55 seats, 16 more than the 39 they need to take control. And they’d do it without a single Minnesota seat flipping, because Sabato, like Rothenberg, Cook, CQ and FiveThirtyEight, projects every incumbent to hold serve.

National Republicans said they’re not surprised at the favorable political environment.

“With the assistance of a hapless administration and a tone-deaf Speaker of the House we have pushed the playing field beyond the bounds of what the pundits thought possible and put over 100 seats into play,” said Tom Erickson, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Republicans aren’t taking anything for granted and are doing everything we can to win as many seats as possible Tuesday.”

Of course, that’s not to say upsets aren’t possible — even extremely likely. Elections aren’t won by analysts, they’re won by the voters. And Erickson said he’ll be looking for those upsets in Minnesota.

“A rating of ‘Lean Democrat’ or ‘Likely Democrat’ should not be taken as a sign that the political prognosticators see a GOP win as impossible,” Erickson said. “If that were the case all the DFL seats would be rated Safe Democrat.”

A spokesperson for the DCCC, the equivalent Democratic organization, did not respond to requests for comment.

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