House Republicans are able to reach the 218 seats they need to flip the chamber after the midterm elections. On Friday, CBS News estimates Republicans will win at least 213 seats while Democrats are expected to win at least 206 seats. In several of the outstanding races, the Republicans are ahead.
There are currently just under 30 races that have not been called. At least 10 seats are considered “battlegrounds” and there are a handful of other races that have remained tight since Tuesday. Sixteen of the uncalled races are in California, a reliable Democratic state that has several competitive congressional districts this cycle.
Democratic strategists working on House races this cycle say it would take a “miracle,” but Democrats have a possible path to hold on to a majority. Their path to getting there would require a clean sweep in the remaining 13 uncalled seats that are designated by CBS News as “likely” Democrats or “skinny” Democrats. That includes nine seats in California alone, with several Democrats in tight races.
They should then win at least 7 of the 13 seats classified as “toss ups” or “Lean Republican” by CBS News.
In nine of California’s unnamed and competitive races (3rd, 9th, 13th, 22nd, 26th, 27th, 41st, 45th, 47th and 49th California), six have Republicans leading. Four of them feature Republicans leading by more than 6 points, while two have margins of 1 point or less.
But at least two of them, Democratic incumbents Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin, are expected to take the lead once the remaining mail-in ballots are counted, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc.
For Republicans, California could help them achieve a majority – if their candidates maintain their lead. If Republicans win in all of them, and that’s in addition to the 211 races that have been officially called by CBS News for Republicans, that will put Republicans 217 seats — one away from a majority.
Only a fraction of the vote has been reported for these constituencies, due to the extended time clerks have to report final results, and mail-in ballots that were postmarked on Election Day can be received until next Tuesday. .
Mitchell said that for Democrats to have any chance of holding the House, they would have to win in 22nd, 27th and 41st, all districts where the incumbent Republican is leading.
“If the Democrats won those three races in California, then think the odds go up that the Democrats can hold the House. But if the Democrats lose one of those three, the odds go down, they lose two of those three, the door closes,” Mitchell said.
Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership group that works with more moderate House Republicans, said she was confident Republicans Valadao and Calvert would keep their seats.
In the remaining 11 races designated as “battlegrounds” by CBS News, which include four races in California, Republicans are ahead in seven of them. They also lead in another close race: Colorado’s 3rd District, where GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert leads with about 1,100 votes.
Democratic incumbents lead in three seats in Nevada and in Maine’s 2nd District and Alaska’s At-Large District, two seats with ranked-choice voting.
“Based on the calculations we made – I think it’s a foregone conclusion [that Republicans take the House]”, Chamberlain said. “But it’s going to be very close. There will only be a few places. And it shouldn’t be, I mean, it should have been a landslide, frankly.”
In the primaries, Chamberlain’s group backed Republican candidates like Representatives Peter Meijer of Michigan and Jamie Herrera-Beutler, House Republicans targeted by former President Donald Trump. Chamberlain argued that more right-wing candidates who beat their traditional Republican picks would have been more competitive in the general election.
She said the issue of candidate quality, as well as the disconnect between Trump and the rest of the Republican establishment, was one reason House control remained so tight.
“I don’t think Trump is going away,” Chamberlain said. “We just have to make better decisions with Trump. I think some of Trump’s candidates hurt us on Tuesday. And that’s why we have to work together as a party and move forward.”