"Democrats are gonna lose seats," said Chris Warshaw, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The question, Warshaw said, is how much Democrats can mitigate their losses.
President Joe Biden’s remaining political agenda is dependent on Democrats controlling the House. But high inflation, a surge in spending from Republican PACs, favorable election maps in a number of GOP-controlled states, and historical trends that work against the party in power has analysts predicting a GOP takeover of the House.
Democrats have latched on to the Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade – ending the constitutional right to abortion – to energize their base of progressive activists and give moderates a reason to vote against Republicans.
Abortion in the midterms: Channeling abortion outrage, Democratic women push for upsets in Senate elections
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Here are the House races to watch Tuesday that could help determine control of the chamber (* denotes incumbent):
Texas: Mayra Flores* (R) vs. Vicente Gonzalez* (D)
Texas' 34th Congressional District is the epicenter of where Republicans are working to expand the conservative movement in South Texas. The traditionally blue district surprisingly flipped red when GOP Rep. Mayra Flores won a special election this summer.
Flores is serving the remainder of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela's term, which ends in January. She'll have to win the general election in November to serve a complete two-year term and faces Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.
A closer look at the Rio Grande Valley: Republicans made inroads with South Texas Latinos last election. Now, they’re hoping for a red wave
Gonzalez currently serves Texas' 15th Congressional District, but after redistricting made it more red, he opted to run in the 34th. But it's not an easy race for him.
A strong grassroots campaign effort from local Republicans in the Rio Grande Valley has energized Latino conservatives who are turning their backs away from the Democratic Party. Combined with a lack of Democratic outreach, Republicans are finding new opportunity in the historically blue region of South Texas.
California: David Valadao* (R) vs. Rudy Salas (D)
In California, a Republican – and Donald Trump foe – is facing a top Democratic recruit.
Rep. David Valadao is a rare survivor of Trump’s campaign against House Republicans who voted to impeach him last year. Of the 10 who did so, only Valadao and Dan Newhouse of Washington made it to Election Day.
10 House Republicans voted to impeach: How are they faring now?
Democratic nominee Rudy Salas has Democrats excited about flipping the 22nd District blue. For years, Democrats have approached Salas to run against Valadao and he agreed this year.
Redistricting put Valadao in a unique spot as one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents this cycle. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 17 percentage points in this district.
Colorado: Yadira Caraveo (D) vs. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R)
Thanks to the 2020 Census count, a brand new congressional seat is up for grabs in Colorado, one of a handful added around the country in redistricting and it’s a toss-up.
Drawn by an independent commission, the district, which extends north from the Denver suburbs to Greeley, is more than 30% Latino. The area went for Trump in 2016, then Biden in 2020, so the race is considered one of the nation's most competitive.
Democrats have nominated state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Mexican-American pediatrician who grew up in the area. State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer emerged from a contentious primary to win the Republican nomination.
Both parties' national campaign messages have focused on key issues in the race. Caraveo has made abortion a top priority in her campaign. She was one of several Democratic state lawmakers who helped codify abortion rights into law in the Centennial State.
Kirkmeyer has been hammering Caraveo on crime and fentanyl at the southern border. She’s blamed Caraveo for rising fentanyl deaths in Colorado – pointing to a law Caraveo supported that decriminalized small possession of the drug.
Maine: Jared Golden* (D) vs. Bruce Poliquin (R)
Former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin is running to reclaim his seat from Democratic Rep. Jared Golden after becoming one of many GOP lawmakers unseated in the 2018 blue wave.
First elected to Congress in 2014, Poliquin served four years before losing to Golden in a tight election where Golden eked out a 50.5%-49.5% win.
But this time around, Golden is on the defensive. Trump carried this largely rural district by 6 percentage points in 2020. But the former Marine and one-time staffer to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has taken steps to distance himself from the national party by voting against Biden's Build Back Better measure, the American Rescue Plan and other progressive priorities.
Republicans and Poliquin have attacked Golden for voting for the Inflation Reduction Act which passed the House in August on a party line vote with all Democrats voting in favor and no Republicans joining them.
Michigan: Elissa Slotkin* (D) vs. Barrett (R)
In swingy central Michigan, a moderate Democrat who made a name for herself flipping the district in 2018 faces her most difficult challenge yet.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running in Michigan's newly drawn 7th District. The district is anchored around Lansing. Biden carried the seat by less than one point in 2020, and Trump carried it in 2016.
Slotkin previously served in the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.
She faces a top Republican recruit: state Sen. Tom Barrett. Barrett is an Army veteran who previously served in the state House.
Barrett removed anti-abortion language from his campaign materials this summer following his primary win. He'd previously described himself as "100% pro life" without exception, but that language no longer exists on his campaign website.
New Hampshire: Chris Pappas* (D) vs. Karoline Leavitt (R)
Former Trump White House assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt won a competitive GOP primary in September to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.
Leavitt defeated her moderate opponent, former Trump official Matt Mowers.
Democrats and Pappas are hoping that Leavitt’s ties to Trump make her unpalatable to independents and moderate voters in New Hampshire.
Trump won the district in 2016 but it went to Biden in 2020. .
New Jersey: Tom Malinowski* (D) vs. Tom Kean Jr. (R)
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is up for reelection in New Jersey's 7th Congressional District where voters are seeing a rematch.
Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. lost to Malinowski in 2020 by a little more than one percentage point. But this year he is considered a much more favorable environment for Republicans. And the Kean name remains popular in the Garden State where Kean's father was revered as governor during the 1980s.
Adding to Malinowski's challenge is that he is currently facing an ongoing inquiry from the House Ethics Committee after he allegedly failed to properly report more than $3 million in stock trades.
Nevada: Dina Titus* (D) vs. Mark Robertson (R)
The longest-serving member of the Nevada congressional delegation has a tough match this election.
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus' once-safe seat was redrawn during redistricting. The new district contains part of Las Vegas, as well as Boulder City and Henderson and is now more than 30% Hispanic or Latino.
The Democratic Nevada Legislature redrew Titus’ district to give Democrats in other districts an edge. But the new map has made Titus' reelection far from a sure bet.
Titus, elected in 2012, previously served as Democratic majority leader in the state Senate and worked as a college professor.
Republicans have nominated Mark Robertson, a businessman and financial planner who previously served in the military, including a stint as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Robertson has blamed inflation on Titus and Democrats, for what he argued was excess federal spending during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Nevada, where abortion could prove to be a pivotal issue, Robertson announced opposition to any federal ban on abortion on his website.
"This issue should be left to the states and to the people," his campaign website says.
North Carolina: Wiley Nickel (D) vs. Bo Hines (R)
With incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd aiming for a higher seat in the Senate, North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District is an open seat.
Bo Hines, a 27-year-old political newcomer and former college football player, has Republicans aligned with Trump’s MAGA movement excited.
Hines was endorsed by Trump and has borrowed from the former president's speech and policy positions. He’s espoused Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and has vowed to stop “radical, Marxist leftists.”
Democrats hope Hines’ closeness to Trump in a red-tilting district will cost him the race in November. Hine’s opponent is state Sen. Wiley Nickel, who’s worked as a staffer with former Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama.
Nickel has made abortion access a centerpiece in his campaign and has promised voters he would vote to codify Roe v. Wade in the House.
Ohio: Steve Chabot* (R) vs. Greg Landsman (D)
In a year when Democrats are playing defense in so many areas, they have a rare chance to capture a seat in Ohio that Republicans have held for decades.
GOP Rep. Steve Chabot has represented this southwest Ohio district for more than a quarter of a century since his election in 1994, even acting as a House impeachment manager during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
But redistricting has made the once-safe GOP seat much more vulnerable. Chabot's new district covers an area that Biden won by almost nine points.
Redistricting challenge: Ohio Republicans appeal congressional redistricting map to U.S. Supreme Court
The Democratic candidate in the race is Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, a former public school teacher.
Texas: Henry Cuellar* (D) vs. Cassy Garcia (R)
Texas’ 28th Congressional District is another seat in the Rio Grande Valley where Republicans are looking to make inroads with conservative Latinos.
Cassy Garcia is the Republican challenger in this race, taking on Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has served in the House since 2005. Redistricting made his seat much more competitive, which opened an opportunity for Republicans to unseat the longtime incumbent.
Garcia’s political resume and outreach to Latinos has Republicans confident about flipping the seat. She worked for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and was appointed by Trump to serve as a commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
But Cuellar has his own conservative credentials. He is one of the last surviving anti-abortion Democrats and also is rated as one of the most conservative Democrats in the House.
Cuellar was the sole House Democrat earlier in the summer to vote against codifying abortion rights into federal law. He could be Democrats’ best shot at fending off a complete GOP takeover of South Texas.
Virginia: Abigail Spanberger* (D) vs. Yesli Vega (R)
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is in a fight for her political life against her Republican opponent, Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.
The National Republican Campaign Committee, which backs House Republican candidates, has aggressively targeted Spanberger. The moderate Democrat in 2018 unseated Tea Party Republican incumbent Dave Brat.
Democrats have rallied voters following the Supreme Court's decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The Democratic Party of Virginia slammed Vega's anti-abortion views as “too extreme” for the district and Spanberger recently launched an ad campaign on the issue.
Contributing: Mabinty Quarshie
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House races to watch this midterm election from Virginia to Texas