With Hillary Clinton holding a commanding lead in the final stretch of the presidential race, the contest over the White House is becoming nearly settled in the eyes of many election watchers. But this election still has an impact on what kind of administration Clinton will command, and that will be affected by down-ballot Congressional races. Specifically, can Democrats win over the House of Representatives?
Democrats have a good (but still far from certain) chance of riding Clinton's coattails and flipping the Senate blue. But in addition to the upper chamber, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up in 2016. And yet, it looks like much more of a long-shot for Democrats to win the House. In the current makeup, there are 247 House seats controlled by Republicans compared to 188 controlled by Democrats, meaning that Democrats would need to flip 30 seats in order to take control. That's a difficult proposition.
First of all, the geography of the United States favors Republicans — Democrats are often congregated close together in cities, while Republicans are spread out, which gives Republicans the advantage of more rural districts. This trend has been exacerbated by Republican control of redistricting after the 2010 census in many states — that's because state-level elected officials were able to draw Congressional district lines that favored their own party. In 2012, for instance, this led to Republicans holding on to the House despite a majority of Americans voting for Democrats.
Many would also argue the Democrats aren't prepared this year to take Congress. Usually, parties work to recruit strong candidates in contestable districts in order to win. While, of course, the Democrats have done some of that, election experts at the Cook Political Report, which monitors elections around the country, have estimated that only 22 Republican seats look like potential Democratic pickups, and that's assuming none of of the three Democratic seats the Republicans could potentially take flip the other way.
Election experts have estimated that it would take an 8-point margin in House races for the Democrats to flip the chamber, and while the Democrats have been consistently winning in generic poll questions about whether voters prefer a Democratic or Republican representative, it hasn't been that kind of margin.
Still, it looks like the Democrats may very well make real gains in the House. Moreover, some Republicans are trying to get out of the way from the falling meteor — I mean Trump. It's Trump. Trump is a fiery rock falling at incredible speed and likely causing lots of damage — at the top of their ticket, as well; five have threatened legal action due to ads tying them to Trump, which they see as defamation. House Republicans who have had little to do with Trump's campaign could still be damaged by the leak of radioactive waste. And even if Republicans hold on to their leadership despite Trump, the problems of Trump's assault on the GOP are far from over.