Will Republicans flip the House in midterm elections? These 12 races will tell the story.

·11 min read

Control of the House of Representatives is on the ballot in November and, with it, the  ability for President Joe Biden to achieve much of his remaining political agenda.

Democrats currently control the House and Senate, but historical trends and numerous polls suggest that Republicans will flip at least the House in November.

But that win looks less certain now than it did earlier this year, with factors like the Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning a national right to abortion boosting Democratic odds.

Abortion in the midterms: Channeling abortion outrage, Democratic women push for upsets in Senate elections

"Three months ago, it looked like a category five hurricane was heading for President Biden and House Democrats," wrote Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

"Today, not only has it weakened to a tropical depression, but GOP primaries have thrown Democrats enough sandbags to give them a plausible, if still unlikely, scenario to stave off a Republican majority," he added.

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On the Senate: These are the midterm election races to watch that will determine who controls the Senate

Here are 12 House races to watch in November that could help determine control of the chamber (* denotes incumbent):

California-22: Rep. David Valadao* (R) vs. Rudy Salas (D)

Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif.
Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif.

In California, a Trump-foe Republican overcame a primary challenger and will face a top Democratic recruit.

Rep. David Valadao is one of the 10 House GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump last year, and the only one to have not faced a Trump-backed primary challenger. Valadao still faced two challengers from the right during the primary, but did well enough to make it on to the ballot in November – one of only two GOP impeachers (along with Washington State Republican Dan Newhouse) to do so.

10 House Republicans voted to impeach: How are they faring now?

While he is one of the only two GOP impeachment backers to reach the November election, Valadao is among the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle. He faces a tough reelection battle in this agriculturally key Central Valley district, which became more Democratic following redistricting – registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 17 percentage points in the district.

Democrats are excited about their candidate in the race, state assemblyman Rudy Salas. Salas has the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' campaign arm and the Blue Dog PAC, which backs centrist Democrats. Salas was the first Latino Bakersfield city councilmember.

Colorado-08: Caraveo (D) vs. Kirkmeyer (R)

A brand new congressional seat is up for grabs, one of a handful added around the country in redistricting.

Colorado gained a seat following the 2020 Census count, and the new lines are competitive: President Joe Biden won the area in 2020, while Trump won it in 2016. The district is more than 30% Hispanic, and extends north from the Denver suburbs to Greeley.

Redistricting:Voters get fewer choices as Democrats and Republicans dig partisan trenches

State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer emerged from a contentious primary to win the Republican nomination for the brand new seat. Kirkmeyer previously served as Weld County Commissioner for 20 years.

Democrats hope to make abortion a key issue in the race. State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Mexican American pediatrician, is the party's nominee.

Abortion is a key issue in the race: Caraveo backs abortion access, while Kirkmeyer does not but removed a promise to "defend the sanctity of life" from her campaign website going into the general election where she'll have to appeal to moderates as well as conservatives.

Kirkmeyer told Colorado Public Radio that she would support a federal ban of abortions 15 weeks after pregnancy.

Related: Sen. Lindsey Graham defends 15-week abortion ban bill, which lacks full GOP support

Maine-02: Rep. Jared Golden* (D) vs. Poliquin (R)

Rep. Jared Golden
Rep. Jared Golden

A Democratic incumbent who has taken steps to separate himself from his party faces a rematch of one of the closest races in the 2018 blue wave.

Trump carried this largely rural district by 6 points in 2020, so the odds are against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. But Golden, a former Marine and one-time staffer to GOP Maine Sen. Susan Collins, has taken steps to distance himself from the national party by voting against Biden's Build Back Better and the American Rescue Plan.

Nonetheless, Poliquin and Republicans have attacked Golden for voting for the Inflation Reduction Act which passed the House in August on a party line vote with all Democrats voting in favor with no Republicans joining them.

Maine voters are faced with a ranked choice rematch, with Golden facing his 2018 opponent former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Their last face-off was the state's first Congressional race decided by ranked choice voting where Golden eked out a 50.5%-49.5% win.

Poliquin previously represented the Northern Maine district. He was first elected to the seat in 2014, before losing to Golden four years later.

Poliquin won the first round of ranked choice in 2018, but after two independent candidates were eliminated, Golden was able to overcome him in the next round. Many Republicans have voiced their opposition to ranked choice voting in recent weeks following former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin's loss to Democrat Mary Peltola in Alaska.

Michigan-07: Rep. Elissa Slotkin* (D) vs. Barrett (R)

In swingy central Michigan, a moderate Democrat who made a name for herself flipping the district in 2018 faces her most difficult challenge yet.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin is running in Michigan's newly drawn 7th district. The district is anchored around Lansing. Biden carried the seat by less than one point in 2020, and Trump carried it in 2016.

Slotkin was first elected in 2018, when she flipped a traditionally GOP seat. She previously served in the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.

She faces a top Republican recruit: state Sen. Tom Barrett. Barrett is an Army veteran who previously served in the state House.

Barrett is another Republican nominee who has removed anti-abortion language from his campaign materials this summer following his primary win. He'd previously described himself as "100% pro life" without exception, that language no longer exists on his campaign website.

New Hampshire-01: Rep. Chris Pappas* (D) vs. Leavitt (R)

Republican Karoline Leavitt is running for the U.S. House to represent New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.
Republican Karoline Leavitt is running for the U.S. House to represent New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.

Former Trump White House assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt won the September GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.

Trump won the district in 2016, and Biden in 2020. Pappas, who is openly gay, was elected in 2018 and previously served as a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council.

Leavitt defeated the 2020 GOP nominee Matt Mowers in the primary, who also served in the Trump administration and was considered the frontrunner. At age 25, she could be one of the first members of Gen Z to serve in Congress if she wins the general election race in November. After her role at the White House, she worked as director of communications for House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

The day after winning her primary, Leavitt scrubbed her Twitter biography of any mention of Trump and her previously held position in the White House – issues that could complicate her outreach to both independents and even some Democrats she'll need in November in the battleground state.

New Jersey-07: Tom Malinowski* (D) vs. Kean (R)

Rep. Tom Malinowski
Rep. Tom Malinowski

In New Jersey, a Democrat faces his hardest reelection campaign to date in a GOP district and is aiming to tie a well known political name to Trump.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is up for reelection in this New Jersey district the Cook Political Report rates as a seat that leans Republican. Biden won the district in 2020, after Trump won it in 2016.

Malinowski was elected in 2018, and previously served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor under the Obama administration.

He faces Republican state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr., a moderate son of a popular GOP governor who beat out several challengers to his right to win the nomination. The two faced off previously in 2020, with Malinowski defeating Kean, 50.6%-49.4%. In a non-presidential year with Republicans expected to retake the House, that close win could flip in Kean's favor in this rematch.

Malinowski has attempted to tie Kean to Trump, with his last ad saying "Trump and the MAGA crowd know they can count on Tom Kean Jr." and mentioning a possible national abortion ban.

New Mexico-02: Yvette Herrell* (R) vs. Vasquez (D)

Rep. Yvette Herrell
Rep. Yvette Herrell

The decennial redistricting process added Western Albuquerque to this rural district that is currently represented by GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell, making the seat more Democratic.

Herrell previously served in the state House and is serving in her first term onCapitol Hill. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, she is the first GOP Native woman to serve in Congress.

Herrell faces Democrat Gabe Vasquez, who previously worked for New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich and served as a Las Cruces City Councilor. Vasquez is a first generation American who has stressed his personal story growing up in both the U.S. and Mexico, a bio that fits well with this border district.

Nevada-01: Dina Titus* (D) vs. Robertson (R)

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., thanks supporters after being re-elected during the election watch party for the Nevada State Democratic Party at the Studio Ballroom at the MGM Grand casino-hotel in Las Vegas Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Erik Verduzco) ORG XMIT: NVLAS106
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., thanks supporters after being re-elected during the election watch party for the Nevada State Democratic Party at the Studio Ballroom at the MGM Grand casino-hotel in Las Vegas Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Erik Verduzco) ORG XMIT: NVLAS106

The longest serving member of the Nevada congressional delegation's seat looks a lot less secure this cycle.

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus's once-safe seat was redrawn during redistricting to be more competitive. The district now contains part of Las Vegas, as well as Boulder City and Henderson. It is more than 30% Hispanic or Latino.

Titus was elected in 2012 and is the dean of Nevada's Congressional delegation. She previously served as Democratic Majority Leader in the state Senate and worked as a college professor.

She faces GOP challenger Mark Robertson, a financial planner who previously served in the military, including as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Ohio-01: Steve Chabot* (R) vs. Landsman (D)

Ohio District 1 Congressman Steve Chabot shakes hands with President Donald Trump after he exits Air Force One at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.
Ohio District 1 Congressman Steve Chabot shakes hands with President Donald Trump after he exits Air Force One at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

In a year where Democrats are playing defense in so many areas, they have an opportunity to flip a seat held by Republicans for decades in Ohio.

Longtime GOP Rep. Steve Chabot has represented this southwest Ohio district for more than a quarter of a century since his election in 1994, even acting as a House impeachment manager during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.

But the previously safe Republican seat was redrawn. His new district covers an area Biden won during redistricting by almost nine points. That gives Democrats a rare pickup opportunity to flip the seat.

The Democratic candidate in the race is Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, a former public school teacher. Chabot has easily fended off Democratic challengers in recent years but with the new lines, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as a "toss-up."

Texas-28: Henry Cuellar* (D) vs. Garcia (R)

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, talks with reporters after a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, talks with reporters after a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Henry Cuellar is one of the last surviving anti-abortion Democrats, and he barely survived a primary challenge. Cuellar is a conservative Democrat who has served since 2004, but legal troubles and a strong GOP candidate make this a competitive race.

Cuellar – weakened by an FBI investigation earlier this year – faced a strong primary challenge from immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros. It’s the second time the two candidates have faced off, and Cuellar narrowly defeated Cisneros by less than 300 votes.

He faces Cassy Garcia in the general election for this Laredo border seat that is more than 70% Hispanic or Latino. Garcia most recently worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and was appointed by Trump to serve as a commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.

Virginia-07: Abigail Spanberger* (D) vs. Vega (R)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is in a fight for her political life against her Republican opponent, Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has aggressively targeted Spanberger in hopes of taking back control of the House. Spanberger, a moderate Democrat, has twice defeated Republicans. In 2018 she unseated Tea Party Republican incumbent Dave Brat when she was first elected to the House. She then beat state Del. Nick Freitas in 2020 to win reelection.

Democrats in the district have rallied voters following the Supreme Court's decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. The Democratic Party of Virginia slammed Vega’s anti-abortion views as “too extreme” for the district and Spanberger recently launched an ad campaign against Vega’s abortion views.

The ad highlights a comment Vega made about abortion on the campaign trail, where she questioned the likelihood of pregnancy after rape, saying: "It's not something happening organically," according to audio obtained by Axios.

Contributing: Mabinty Quarshie

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 12 House congressional races to watch in the 2022 midterm elections