It’s been noted a million times that Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take control of the House of Representatives in next month’s midterm elections. Nearly all analysis has focused on how many seats Republicans might lose.
Less noticed is the fact that the GOP will likely pick up a small number of seats in congressional districts that buck the predicted national trend by changing from Democrat to Republican. Any GOP pickups will probably be few and far between. But if the race for House control tightens in coming weeks, they could be critical.
The Republicans’ best chance to pick up a Democratic seat is in the sprawling, 27,000 square mile 8th District of Minnesota. The district has been represented since 2013 by a Democrat, Rep. Rick Nolan. Nolan has had one of the more unusual careers in the House: He was first elected in 1974, served until 1980 when he chose not to run for re-election, took a 32-year break to pursue private business, and then ran for and won his old seat in 2012. Now, at age 74, he has decided to retire again. …
… The third player in the race, as in so many others, is Donald Trump. The district voted for Barack Obama twice, and then took a sharp turn toward Trump, who won by 16 points in 2016. Now, in the Times poll, the president’s job approval rating in the district is 54 percent. Trump has already jumped in the race, traveling to Duluth in June for a rally for [Pete] Stauber and other Republicans.