Three Undecided Races to Watch to Understand What’s Happening with the House

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The sizable majority Republicans were expected to secure in the U.S. House of Representatives never materialized Tuesday night. Instead, Democrats put up surprisingly strong fights in competitive races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas, with dozens of House races still too close to call.

Democrats currently have a narrow, five-member majority in the House, which Republicans had been expected to easily overcome following redistricting based on the 2020 census and historical trends. Republicans are still projected to take control of the House, but it might be by a narrower threshold than they had hoped. The GOP needs 218 seats to take the majority. They remain about 15 races short of that threshold, with more than 50 races still too close to call.

Here are three uncalled races that could signal the direction of the House:

Michigan 10th

Republican candidate John James is neck-in-neck with Democrat Carl Marlinga, currently separated by a margin of just a few thousand votes. James was a highly sought after Republican recruit, had robust fundraising, and polling showed he had a sizable lead heading into Election Day. Yet Marlinga, a former prosecutor, has put up a surprisingly strong fight.

Miles Coleman, an associate editor of the elections forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, points out that Democrats took all three other competitive seats in the state, and could have been buoyed by a referendum on the ballot on whether to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution.

“The narrative these last few weeks was, ‘Oh, the abortion issue is fading.’ Well not in Michigan, where they had a referendum and it stayed front and center,” says Coleman. “So that could have energized Democrats.”

Colorado 3rd

Republican Representative Lauren Boebert, who has gained national attention for being one of former President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, is locked in a much closer-than-expected race with her challenger Democrat Adam Frisch. Boebert, 35, was elected to her freshmen term last cycle by six points. In the two years since, she made headlines for her far-right stances and repeated false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. After she posted some lawmakers’ locations during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, she faced calls for her resignation. While her stances helped her stay in Trump’s good graces, they seemed to have hurt her with her constituents.

New York 17th

Incumbent Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is tasked with defending the Democrats’ control of the House, appears poised to lose his seat to Republican Mike Lawler. While the Associated Press hasn’t yet called the race for Lawler, Maloney announced his concession Wednesday morning.

His loss comes after Democrats seemingly were caught off guard in New York races where Republicans repeatedly stressed rising crime levels and inflation. Last-minute efforts were made to invest in not only competitive House races but also Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul’s reelection, which became surprisingly competitive. Even Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s margins are shrinking: in 2016, he was reelected by over 70%. But on Thursday, Schumer was only reelected by a margin of 56%.

In those three key races, Democrats have underperformed in a state that is usually the bedrock of their power.

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