Of the 43 Republican-held seats that CNN considers leaning toward the Democrats or toss-ups, only nine are in districts where the white population exceeds the national average and the share of residents with college degrees lags the national average.
Already, the CNN analysis shows, about two-thirds of House Republicans represent districts where the education level lags the national average and nearly three-fifths hold seats where the median income is lower as well.
Then we compared those results with the latest CNN ranking of the 96 House districts considered most likely to switch parties (that includes 95 seats described as toss-up, lean or likely toward either party, and one Republican-held seat now considered “solid” for Democrats).
The median income exceeds the national average of $55,322 in all of those except the Tucson-area seat being vacated by Arizona Republican Martha McSally (who’s running for the Senate), where former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is a strong favorite.
The share of adults with college degrees exceeds the national average of about 30.3% in all of them except the New Jersey seat left open by retiring Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo (where Democrat Jeff Van Drew is highly favored because Republicans nominated a fringe candidate who has expressed racist sentiments) and the northeast Iowa seat where Democrat Abby Finkenauer is mounting a strong challenge to Rep. Rod Blum.
They include Rep. Mike Coffman’s suburban Denver seat, Barbara Comstock’s seat in Northern Virginia, the suburban Minneapolis districts of Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis and other open seats in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Orange County, California.
Beyond these 14 Republican-held seats that CNN rates as leaning to the Democrats, control of the House will likely be decided in 29 more GOP-held seats CNN classifies as toss-ups.
In all, that means of the 43 Republican-held seats that CNN considers at greatest risk of falling to the Democrats, 31 (or nearly three-fourths) exceed the median income, while 29 (or just over two-thirds) exceed the average education level.
These include open seats outside Seattle; Charlotte, North Carolina; and in Orange County, California; and challenges to Republican incumbents Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher also in Orange County; Dave Brat in Richmond, Virginia; Peter Roskam outside Chicago; Mike Bishop near Detroit; Leonard Lance in New Jersey; Brian Fitzpatrick near Philadelphia; John Culberson near Houston; David Young near Des Moines, Iowa; Kevin Yoder outside Kansas City, Missouri; and a rematch between Republican Rep. Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor after Balderson narrowly won last summer’s closely watched special election for a district around Columbus, Ohio.
Many of the remaining GOP-held seats CNN rates as toss-ups will test the Democrats’ ability to make gains on Trump’s strongest ground: mostly white, heavily blue-collar areas.
The most competitive districts are more white than the national averageOne of the most striking aspects of the 2018 landscape is how few of the highly contested seats contain large numbers of nonwhite voters.
Of the 14 Republican-held seats that CNN rates as tilting toward Democrats, the minority share of the population exceeds the national average of about 38% in just the Southern California open seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Darrell Issa.
The relative shortage of competitive seats with substantial minority populations underscores the structural hurdle Democrats face in the House from the concentration of nonwhite voters inside large metropolitan areas where the party is already strong.
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