Rating Change: Chris Collins’ Arrest Puts Seat in Play
Inside Elections is shifting the rating from Solid to Likely Republican

If Rep. Chris Collins continues to run for re-election, he would do so while facing charges of insider trading and lying to the F.B.I. But just because a member of Congress is indicted, doesn’t mean they can’t win.

GOP Rep. Michael Grimm of New York and Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana are two recent examples of incumbents who won re-election in the face of significant legal problems.

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

Ratings Change: Races for 2 GOP Seats Shift to Toss-Ups
Texas’ Pete Sessions and Kentucky’s Andy Barr face strong Democratic challengers

In 2010, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions led Republicans to a historic 63-seat gain in the House and a new GOP majority as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Now, he’s at significant risk of losing his own seat.

Sessions represents the Dallas-area 32nd District, which Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016. It’s the type of suburban, college-educated area that has been revolting against President Donald Trump since he took office. But for much of the cycle, Sessions benefitted from a fundraising advantage and a competitive Democratic primary, which was only decided in a May runoff.

Democratic Candidates Should Be Bolder on Gun Control, Poll Finds
“The center has shifted on this issue,” gun control advocate says

Gun control has been a third rail of Democratic campaigns, but a new poll suggests that Democratic candidates should embrace a bolder approach to restrictions on guns, even in general elections.

Up to this point, Democrats have been decidedly defensive on guns. The most famous instances of Democratic candidates using guns in television ads include West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III shooting the so-called cap-and-trade bill, former Georgia Rep. John Barrow talking about his granddaddy’s pistol and Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander assembling a rifle blindfolded. The ads were meant to reassure voters that Democrats didn’t want to take away their guns.

Support for Roe is Up, But Other Abortion Polling Divided and Steady
71 percent think 1973 decision should stand

While recent polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal showed an uptick in support for Roe v. Wade, other survey data on abortion reflects a remarkably consistent and nuanced approach from Americans on the choice issue that stretches across decades.

The recent survey of 900 registered voters, conducted July 15-18, showed 71 percent believe the 1973 decision, which established a woman’s legal right to an abortion, should be kept in place while 23 percent believe the ruling should be overturned.

I Met 12 Democratic Candidates in Two Days and Lived to Write About It
None of them are talking about Trump or Pelosi

I swore I’d never do it again.

In October, I interviewed 16 Democratic House candidates in two days. As much as I enjoy having face-to-face conversations with people running for the offices we cover, it might have been too many in a row.

Rating Change: GOP House Open Seat in New Jersey Shifts to Likely Democratic
Republicans face uphill battle to retain seat of retiring Frank LoBiondo

Sometimes political handicapping can be difficult. Shifting a well-liked Democratic senator in North Dakota, who has won a close and competitive race previously, to Tilts Republican from Toss-Up wasn’t an easy decision. But Republican Seth Grossman is making it easy for political analysts.

The former Atlantic County Freeholder won the GOP nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd District on June 5, but the National Republican Congressional Committee disavowed him on Monday after multiple offensive statements came to light. “Bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives,” said NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers of Ohio.

GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
FEC has questions for Club for Conservatives PAC

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is locked in a competitive and expensive race for Senate. But the Tennessee Republican’s campaign decided to return a sizable contribution from a political action committee that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said. 

Podcast: A Supreme Campaign Issue
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 14

For six Democratic senators in rough fights for re-election in Trump states, the coming vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation will be a career-defining moment that cuts both ways. Roll Call political analyst Nathan Gonzales and his Inside Elections colleague Leah Askarinam explain the dynamics of each campaign. 

Watch: Trump Nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Ratings Change: Two Top Senate Races Shift Out of Toss-Up
North Dakota Moves to Tilts Republican, West Virginia Moves to Tilts Democratic

When it comes to political handicapping, the easiest thing to do would be to put all of the most competitive contests into the Toss-up category and declare them too close to call. Or to argue that because Donald Trump was elected president against the projections, it’s not worth rating any races at all.

But that’s not particularly helpful to people looking for some direction and distinctions in congressional elections.

Nathan’s 10 One-Liners After Tuesday: Winter Has Come for Democrats
What’s running through my head the night of a stunning New York upset

There’s plenty to digest from Tuesday’s primaries in New York, Maryland, Utah and beyond, but here are a few initial thoughts encapsulated in some run-on sentences.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger’s primary loss last month wasn’t a surprise (considering his narrow win in 2016), and his fellow GOP Rep. Mark Sanford’s primary loss in South Carolina two weeks ago wasn’t stunning (considering his personal issues and reputation for opposing President Donald Trump).

Elections, Retirements Could Ransack GOP Baseball Roster
Turnover in the Democratic lineup not expected to be as dramatic

The cold reality of the midterm elections could force Republicans into a completely different roster for next year’s Congressional Baseball Game. Due to retirements and competitive re-election races, over a third of the 36-member GOP team may not be returning in 2019, including more than half of last year’s starting lineup.

Three of the Republicans’ first six batters from 2017 are playing in their last game because they aren’t seeking re-election, including leadoff hitter Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania.

How the Midterms Might Affect the Congressional Baseball Lineup
 

Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales likes his day job covering politics, but he loves when he can combine that with his baseball hobby. With the annual Congressional Baseball Game coming up June 14, Gonzales takes a look at how a wave of retirements and competitive races in November could affect both the Democratic and GOP rosters going forward.

Below is a transcript of the video.

Rating Change: New Jersey 5 Moves Off Competitive List
Now just nine vulnerable Democrats to GOP’s 70

Republican optimism about defeating Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey’s 5th District was fueled by President Donald Trump’s narrow victory in 2016, the congressman’s initial victory over a lackluster incumbent and Republican Steve Lonegan’s deep pockets and past electoral performance in the area.

But that scenario took a turn for the worse when Lonegan lost the June 5 primary and Garden State Republicans nominated former Cresskill Borough Councilman John McCann. He had just $46,000 in his campaign account on May 16 compared to $3.9 million for Gottheimer.

GOP Poll: Donnelly in Position to Win in Indiana
He doesn’t need to win the 3rd District; he just needs to hold down his losses.

After defeating a flawed candidate in 2012 and President Donald Trump winning Indiana in 2016 by nearly 20 points, Sen. Joe Donnelly is widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators in the country. But don’t count him out yet, according to a new Republican poll.

Former state Rep. Mike Braun, the GOP nominee, led Donnelly, 50-42 percent in the 3rd Congressional District, according to a survey of 401 likely voters conducted May 29-31 by WPAi for GOP Rep. Jim Banks.

After Montana, Senate Matchups Nearly Set for November Battles
Biggest question marks in Arizona and Wisconsin

After a year and half of wondering which senators might retire, if the parties would land star recruits, and how messy primaries would play out, the matchups in nearly all of the most competitive Senate races will be set after the votes are counted in Montana on Tuesday.

Republicans in Big Sky Country are likely to select either state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, leaving just a couple of unknowns on the broader Senate map, five months before Election Day.

Podcast: California’s Top Two Primary Looms Over House Democrats
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 11

Democrats have a handful of opportunities to takeover House seats in California, but the abundance of candidates and state’s top two primary system are complicating the party's efforts in a critical state for the majority. Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales and Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman look back at when the system was installed and ahead to the June 5 primaries and how Democrats are trying to avoid an electoral catastrophe.

Show Notes: