Democrats Are Dreaming of Recapturing the House. Indiana's a Longshot to Help.
Even before the recent whirlwind of controversy surrounding President Trump, Democrats were talking up their chances in next year's House races. But Indiana's seven Republican seats may not be part of that wave.
Political scientists' rule of thumb for a competitive seat is a margin of 10 points or less. Even before last week's appointment of an independent counsel to investigate allegations of collusion with Russia, political analysts were suggesting the unpopularity of the House replacement for the federal health care law put at risk any district Trump won by less than that.
But Indiana doesn't have any such districts. Trump won by 23 points or more in every Republican-held district except Susan Brooks' Fifth District in central Indiana. It's the only Indiana district where Trump underperformed 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. But Trump still won the Fifth by 12 -- and Brooks won by 27.
IPFW political scientist Andy Downs says Brooks has been generally well-liked in her district, and viewed in Washington as a potential star. He says Democrats' best Indiana opportunity in 2018 might be Trey Hollingsworth's Ninth District, which stretches from Greenwood to the Kentucky border. Trump won there by 27 points, but Hollingsworth won by just 14 after a bitter primary.
But Downs says calling Hollingsworth Democrats' top target is more a reflection of how unlikely the other targets are, and the fact it'll be his first reelection campaign.
No Indiana congressional district has changed parties since 2012, when Republican Jackie Walorski won an open seat created by Joe Donnelly's successful run for Senate. Indiana hasn't thrown out a House incumbent since Democrat Baron Hill lost to now-Senator Todd Young in 2010.
There are likely to be two open seats next year if Republicans Todd Rokita and Luke Messer follow through on expected Senate campaigns -- but their districts are two of the three reddest in the state, with Rokita, Messer and Trump all crushing their opponents by more than 30 points apiece.