With just 26 days and counting, "October jitters" likely have some on the Republican side careful not to get too excited about potential midterm seat pick-ups or even a balance of power shift on Capitol Hill, but there is one person who keeps putting the anticipated GOP surge in writing: University of Virginia's Larry Sabato.
Sabato, who continues to be a go-to expert in predicting races, has taken a closer look at his "Crystal Ball" and is making some surprising additions. In his most recent prediction, Sabato is shifting three Democratic-held seats into his "competitive" category. This is after moving 21 House races into the Republican's column just last week.
What's the latest tally with these new changes? The professor from UVa's Center for Politics has Democrats holding 50 seats that are either leaning towards GOPers or considered toss-ups. But Sabato isn't giving all Republicans a tip of the hat, four seats currently occupied by Republicans are listed as either leaning Democratic, or a toss-up. Keeping in mind these are just seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives, Sabato is setting up what could be a good night to be a Republican come November 2nd. His crystal ball now shows 95 Democratic-held districts as competitive, while 17 Republican seats are up for grabs.
In the 11th District of Illinois, Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D) is quickly losing points in the polls to Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger. Kinzinger, a 32-year-old veteran has already raised over $1 million to spend on advertising. One recent poll shows that hefty checkbook could be paying off, as Kinzinger climbs ahead of Halvorson 49% to 31%. It is against this background that the "Crystal Ball" rating changes from "Toss-Up" to "Leans Republican."
Heading to New York now, the 23rd district seat is up for grabs and back in the limelight once again. Remember it was just one year ago that Democrat Bill Owens won the seat because of GOP support being split between Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Hoffman surprised many because as a third-party candidate he was able to garner a significant of mainstream GOP backing. He dropped out at the 11th hour, but it proved to be too late as Owens cruised to a democratic victory. Taking the defeat as a lesson learned, Hoffman has dropped out of this year's race early leaving Republican Matt Doheny to battle it out with Owens. With just one candidate to stump for, Republicans are much better positioned to give Owens a run for his money. In light of this, the "Crystal Ball" changes their rating from "Leans Democratic" to "Toss-Up."
And finally, the house race in the 8th district of Wisconsin is changing to a lighter shade of blue. What was expected to be a solid Democratic win could be one to watch as new polls show gains for the GOP nominee. Roofing contractor and Republican candidate Reid Ribble is gaining ground on Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen, according to two Republican-affiliated polls. With Ribble added to the list of NRCC's "Young Guns" and a surge in cash headed his way, the race between Kagen and Ribble is getting competitive. As this race heats up, the Crystal Ball rating in this district shifts from "Likely Democratic" to "Leans Democratic."