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Midterm Races to Watch

The 2018 midterm election will be anything but predictable. With the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, his victory has sent shockwaves to voters across the country. Below are four key races to keep an eye on come November.

The House

In order for Democrats to retake the House of Representatives, they will need to win 23 seats. Currently, polls have suggested that 65 races are considered to be competitive, most of which are rural and suburban districts. When asked about the potential for a Democratic majority, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded, “This could be a tornado, but it won’t be a wave.” McCarthy is also eyeing the Speaker of the House position, in the likely case that Republicans retain the Majority.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo:  Joshua Roberts

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Joshua Roberts

Perhaps the most expensive race in the House is in California’s 39th district, an area including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. The incumbent is Ed Royce (R-CA), a member since 1992 who has announced in January that he will not seek reelection.

The Republican candidate in California’s 39th, Young Kim, is currently in a competitive race with her Democratic opponent, Gil Cisneros. In a recent Monmouth University poll, the GOP candidate is ahead 10 points against her opposition amongst likely voters. Just in the Democratic primary alone, Cisneros has loaned $3.5 million of his own money into the race. Meanwhile, the House Majority Pac announced on Thursday that it had spent $2.7 million campaign ad linking Kim to President Trump.

This race will look to see if the opposition against President Trump is present. During the 2016 election, California’s 39th was one of 25 Republican-held districts that was won by Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The Senate

The Republicans currently hold a slight majority over the Democrats, with 51 GOP members versus 49 Democrats, two of whom are Independents but caucus with the Dems.

A key race to monitor is in Texas, where current congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is looking to unseat current senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Texas, originally considered to be a deep red state, is looking at the possibility of having a Democratic senator represent its state for the first time since Bob Krueger served in 1993. Cruz is looking to fend off O’Rourke, whose platform has attracted many Texans. O’Rourke is a supporter of the Medicare-for-all initiative, as well as a critic of President Trump’s immigration and border wall plans.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Ted Cruz for a Senate seat. Photo:  Casey Jackson

Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Ted Cruz for a Senate seat. Photo: Casey Jackson

Despite RealClearPolitics showing Cruz to be 7 points ahead of O’Rourke, insiders on Capitol Hill suggest the race could be much closer. Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s budget director, said that, “there is a real possibility we will lose a race in Texas.”

Another Senate race to keep a eye on is in Missouri, where current senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is facing a tough reelection opponent, Republican Josh Hawley. McCaskill is known to be a moderate Democrat, having voted for many of Trump Cabinet officials and the administration’s policies.

All eyes were on the Missouri senator this past week when it was announced that now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was going to be put to a full Senate vote. Despite pressure from Republicans for McCaskill to vote in favor of Kavanaugh, McCaskill voted against the nomination, and later added that “there is no political calculation on this vote.”

Following McCaskill’s decision, the senator received an increase influx of campaign contributions from individuals and social rights organizations. As the race boils down, Hawley currently holds a slim 0.4% advantage over McCaskill.

Gubernatorial Races

Governors are possibly one of the biggest obstacles the Trump Administration needs to overcome when implementing their agenda. Republicans currently hold 33 governorships, leaving 16 Democrats and 1 independent in the holding the position in other states.

A state won by President Trump by the smallest of margins, Florida, is seeing a contested race between Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee in 2014, and Ron DeSantis, a congressman representing the state’s 9th district.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. Photo:  Chris O’Meara

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. Photo: Chris O’Meara

Republican governor Rick Scott announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection in order to make a bid of the Senate. Scott’s role in responding to the various hurricanes have been at times controversial, leaving room for debate between Gillum and DeSantis on how they would respond to future natural disasters.

RealClearPolitics currently has Gillum leading DeSantis by an average of 3.7 points. With both campaigns coming to a close, both parties are funneling contributions to aid the candidates in the  last minute stretch.