Ratings from a nonpartisan election handicapper indicate that Republicans have a distinct advantage when it comes to winning control of the House in next year's midterm elections.
The Cook Political Report's ratings Thursday show that Democrats are defending eight "toss-up" districts, with five of those districts either leaning or likely Republican, across seven states.
Arizona's 6th District (open seat), New Jersey’s 7th (Rep. Tom Malinowski), and Texas’s 15th (open) are Democrat and "lean Republican," The Cook Report said.
Two more toss-up Democrat seats — Arizona's 2nd District (Rep. Tom O'Halleran) and Michigan's 10th District (open) — are in the "likely Republican" column.
Republicans, meanwhile, are defending six toss-up seats in four states, though only Illinois' 13th (open) currently leans Democrat, according to the latest Cook ratings.
The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats to take back control of the House. Even before considering poll results, the party of a new president tends to lose congressional seats in midterm election years.
The National Republican Congressional Committee announced it was targeting 70 Democrat-held districts in 2022 after expanding its list last month. Democrats are focusing on 22 GOP-held districts.
The Cook Political Report issues ratings on a rolling basis as states finalize new redistricting maps.
Democrats could be hurt by President Joe Biden's falling approval rating, which stood at just 43% among U.S. adults in the latest NPR/Marist national poll released Dec. 9, as a majority (51%) disapprove of the job Biden has done.
The Marist poll is not out of step with other surveys. Monmouth University's poll released Dec. 8 had Biden at just 40% approval and 50% disapproval, and the RealClearPolitics favorability ratings for Biden average among the recent national polls are at 42% approval and 52% disapproval.
Democrat pollster Brian Stryker, in an interview with The New York Times, says his party has a problem heading into the 2022 midterms.
Asked what he would advise a Democrat running next year, Stryker replied: "I would tell them that we have a problem. We’ve got a national branding problem that is probably deeper than a lot of people suspect. Our party thinks maybe some things we’re saying aren’t cutting through, but I think it’s much deeper than that.
"People think we’re more focused on social issues than the economy — and the economy is the No. 1 issue right now."
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