September 13, 2017

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With a growing number of Republican retirements and a surge of hopefuls flooding top battleground districts, Democrats are increasingly optimistic about winning control of the House 14 months from now.

The party appears highly likely to gain seats, particularly with a polarizing Republican president anchored by a historically low approval rating. But with the playing field still forming and the political climate in flux, it’s too early to say whether Democrats can pick up the necessary 24 seats.

This is Hotline’s first ranking this cycle of the 15 seats most likely to flip parties. It’s an early snapshot of the districts as the matchups currently stand, based on an assessment of demographics, fundraising, declared and likely candidates, and interviews with party strategists.

If wave conditions take hold and more GOP members head for the exits, some of the four Democratic seats could get bumped by increasingly competitive races in Republican districts. Other factors with the potential to affect future lists include the ongoing redistricting case in Texas, which could move a Republican incumbent like Rep. Blake Farenthold into far less friendly territory, and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s likely Senate bid in Arizona, which would leave open a swingy Phoenix-based seat.

 

14. Nebraska-02: Rep. Don Bacon (R)

Former Rep. Brad Ashford is back for a rematch with Bacon, who ousted him by a point as Trump carried the district by 2. A former brigadier general, Bacon has an impressive profile and had a respectable $340,000 war chest by the end of June. But the Paul Ryan-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund is concerned enough about Bacon that it chose his district as one of the first beneficiaries for its new field strategy, and it has been inundating voters with information about Bacon’s work to protect a local Air Force base.