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It’s officially primary season! May kicks off the return of the political primaries for the 2018 election over the next four months, every state but Illinois will hold elections to choose nominees to appear on the November ballot for local, state, and federal office. As primaries wrap up and general election nominees become known, we’ll bring you a deep dive into the most important and fascinating races.

Primary Season: The Rundown Begins

But the start of primary season is the perfect time to update the rundown, a look at the 50 congressional elections that will determine who controls the House of Representatives in 2019.

Since late March, three more incumbents announced their retirements, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who shocked the political world by announcing that he would not stand for reelection. But otherwise, the congressional playing field has been stable and somewhat quiet.

How do things currently stand?

Challengers and incumbents have mostly spent their time honing their messages, meeting with voters, and raising as much money as possible. The biggest news to come out were in the release of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings by campaigns in the first quarter of 2018. Most interesting, of the 34 incumbents on the list, 12 of them (eleven Republicans and one Democrats) were outraised by at least one challenger. And four of the 34 (all Republican) ended the filing period with less cash on hand than at least one of their challengers. Three of four incumbents raised less than at least one challenger and have less cash on hand—a very bad sign and source of dismay in the political world.

Multiple incumbents find themselves defending districts that voted for the opposite party’s presidential candidate in one or both of the last two presidential elections (2012, 2016). With evidence of Democratic enthusiasm (candidate recruitment, fundraising, special election victories) and an unpopular President, can they withstand the wave of serious, well-funded challengers seeking to unseat them? According to the folks at, an incumbent defending their seat will perform an average of 6 percentage points better than a candidate from their party competing for an open seat. Will that be enough?

We’ll see this November!


*One change to note.

First, the Meta rating score has changed. A race rated by all three handicappers as Likely-D or Likely-R would have gotten a 6 or -6. They will now change to 2 or -2. Now instead of simply adding the three scores, I will be dividing the total by 3. This change should help contextualize how close a race is if the score is only .16 or -.16 instead of .5 or -.5. The difference is instead of simply adding the scores, they will now be divided by the number of ratings. This should help to establish a more nuanced ranking of member vulnerability.

Second, primary races are significantly more volatile than general elections and someone deemed a leading candidate might fail to win their primary. When that happens, the winner will take her or his place on the list through the general election.

David DeAngelo

David is Principal of DL DeAngelo Consulting, providing research and advisory services to advocacy and political organizations.

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