The chances of re-election for U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota’s west suburban Third Congressional District have been downgraded from “leans Republican” to “toss-up” by the Sabato Crystal Ball.
This is not a huge deal. The Cook Political Report already rated the race as a toss-up. Independent Elections still rates it as “leans Republican,” which means leans Paulsen. But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am tracking three of the well-known political tip sheets this election year to see how they rate Minnesota’s race and to update you on changes in the ratings.
Since I first wrote about this small project on Feb. 12, the slight downgrade in Paulsen’s chances of re-election is the first change of any of my three raters on any of the Minnesota races. The change reinforces that, among all the pundits, Minnesota is overrepresented in its stock of close races that could help determine control of the U.S. House next year.
Also note that the announcement of the Minnesota ratings change is part of a larger announcement of ratings changes by Sabato in 26 U.S. House races — and that all 26 changes are in favor of the Democrat in the race.
You should assume that the Paulsen downgrade is not about local circumstances or any news specific to Paulsen or his likely challenger, Dean Phillips. (Two other DFLers are also running.) Rather, the change is based on the latest thinking of how big a wind Democrats in general may have at their backs in November.
Here’s what Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, wrote about the MN-3 race:
“Paulsen represents a more affluent district in the Twin Cities suburbs where Trump underperformed in 2018. Paulsen is likely to face Dean Phillips (D), a member of a powerful Minnesota business family. The moves here are not related to a specific new development, but rather represent a fresh assessment of these races that takes into account what we believe is a challenging environment for Republicans in districts that both moved toward and away from Trump in 2016 relative to their previous presidential voting.”
At least one (and in some cases all) of the three raters have a “toss-up” rating on four of the Minnesota’s eight U.S. House races, one of our two U.S. Senate races, and our gubernatorial race.
Only three of our eight U.S. House members (CD 4 U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, CD 5 Rep. Keith Ellison and CD 6 Rep. Tom Emmer) are rated as “safe” by all of the raters. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is also rated safe.
I’ll continue to follow ratings changes in all the Minnesota races and get back to you when there are changes.