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US elections 2024: seven key House races to watch

Much attention has been paid to the rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in November, but the results of down-ballot elections will determine whether the victor in the presidential race will actually be able to implement his legislative agenda next year.

With Republicans defending a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats only need to flip a handful of seats to wrest back control of the lower chamber, and both parties are going all out to secure a majority.

Here are seven House races to watch this year:

map of Arizona’s first congressional district

Arizona’s first congressional district

Republican incumbent David Schweikert is running for re-election in this toss-up district, which covers north-east Phoenix and Scottsdale. As one of 17 House Republicans representing districts that the president won in 2020, Schweikert is vulnerable, and Democrats have identified the seat as one of its top targets this year.

Redistricting after the 2020 census moved this district to the left, and several Democrats have jumped into the 30 July primary in the hopes of unseating Schweikert. The race is expected to be closely contested, as Schweikert won his 2022 election by less than one point.

map of California’s 47th congressional district

California’s 47th congressional district

Democratic congresswoman Katie Porter chose not to run for re-election in this battleground district, instead launching an ultimately unsuccessful Senate campaign. Her departure has created a key pickup opportunity for House Republicans, and Democrats will likely need to heavily invest in the district to defend this Orange county-based seat.

In the 5 March primary, former Republican state assemblyman Scott Baugh, who lost to Porter by just three points in 2022, advanced to the general election alongside Democratic state senator Dave Min.

Min emerged from a brutal primary fight against Democratic activist and attorney Joanna Weiss, who attacked her opponent over his arrest for drunk driving last year. Republicans will likely launch similar attacks against Min ahead of the general election, but Democrats are still favored to hold the left-leaning district.

map of Maine’s second congressional district

Maine’s second congressional district

Democratic incumbent Jared Golden is running for a fourth term in this perpetual swing district that Republicans have repeatedly tried and failed to flip. Golden defeated former Republican congressman Bruce Poliquin by six points in 2022, even though Trump carried the district by six points two years earlier, according to data compiled by Daily Kos.

But this time around, Republicans believe they have a strong candidate in Austin Theriault, a state representative and former professional race car driver who will face off against fellow state representative Michael Soboleski in a primary on 11 June. Republicans also suspect that some independent voters may turn against Golden after he announced support for an assault weapons ban in response to the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, last year, which claimed 18 lives.

Golden has proven politically resilient in this right-leaning district, so a loss could point to broader electoral problems for Democrats in November.

map of Michigan’s seventh congressional district

Michigan’s seventh congressional district

Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s decision to run for Senate has created an opening in this battleground district, which both parties have identified as a key target this year.

Former Republican state Senator Tom Barrett has filed to run again after losing the 2022 election to Slotkin by six points, and he is expected to face former Democratic state senator Curtis Hertel.

The Cook Political Report has described the district as “the most competitive open seat in the country”, and the high stakes will likely make for a very expensive race.

map of North Carolina’s first congressional district

North Carolina’s first congressional district

Freshman Democratic congressman Don Davis is running for re-election in this north-eastern North Carolina district, which shifted to the right after the latest round of redistricting.

Much to the relief of Republican strategists, Laurie Buckhout won the congressional nomination over Sandy Smith, who lost to Davis by five points in 2022. Smith’s electoral prospects had been hampered by her controversial record; she was previously accused of domestic abuse, and she was at the Capitol on 6 January 2021, when a group of Trump supporters stormed the building to disrupt the certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Republicans are hopeful that Buckhout’s impressive resume as an army veteran and founder of her own consulting firm, combined with the more favorable district lines, will be enough to unseat Davis.

map of New York 17th congressional district

New York’s 17th congressional district

Mike Lawler made headlines when he defeated incumbent Sean Patrick Maloney, then the chair of House Democrats’ campaign arm, by less than one point in 2022. This year, Maloney is expected to face off against former Democratic congressman Mondaire Jones in this Hudson Valley district that went for Biden in 2020.

Lawler did not get dealt the worst hand from New York’s redistricting process; that distinction goes to fellow Republican freshman Brandon Williams, whose Syracuse-area seat went from Biden +7 to Biden +11, according to the Cook Political Report.

All the same, Lawler will face stiff competition in a race that will be closely watched for broader electoral trends in November. If he cannot hold on to the seat, it could spell trouble for Republicans up and down the ballot.

map of Pennsylvania’s eighth congressional district

Pennsylvania’s eighth congressional district

Along with Golden, Cartwright is one of just five House Democrats who represent districts won by Trump in 2020, and Republicans are gunning for his Scranton-area seat.

But Cartwright has repeatedly defied political gravity in this right-leaning district, most recently winning reelection by roughly two points in 2022. This time around, Cartwright will face local businessman Rob Bresnahan, who could pose a serious threat to the six-term incumbent.

Cartwright has to hope he can pull off another upset to hold on to this toss-up seat.

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