A bit more on last night’s result in NY-19, which I discussed here. The only minor update is that it didn’t even turn out to be a virtual tie. Democrat Pat Ryan appears to have won with 52% of the vote — a clear if close win. Ryan will only serve for four months. He’s on the November ballot in the new adjoining 18th district. Republican Molinaro will also be on the ballot in a redrawn 19th district against Democrat Josh Riley. The takeaway is the same as last night. Molinaro was and is a first-rate recruit in what the Cook Report calls a dead-even district. The fact that Republicans couldn’t notch a solid win here strongly suggests the governing assumptions about the 2022 midterm are simply wrong.
The best evidence also suggests that the clearest factor behind the shift is a backlash against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. There is polling evidence that Ryan moved from a small deficit to a small lead after Dobbs. He ran heavily on the issue and Molinaro did everything he could to soft pedal it. He even went so far as to do what very few Republicans have or will be able to do: promise not to support a national legislative ban on abortion services. But it wasn’t enough.
The Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman noted last night that if it weren’t for a series of late court driven redistricting defeats in New York, Florida and Ohio he might now judge Democrats well positioned to hold the House. To this I would add a few thoughts: 1) Wasserman is among the very best congressional race predictors. Always put a lot of stock in his take. 2) There are some advantages to being the party that simply disregards court decisions. 3) Only a few weeks ago Wasserman was still anticipating a GOP wave. Things can change quickly and already are.
Republicans winning the House is still the most likely result of the midterm. But it’s by no means assured any more. Democrats holding the House is very much a credible possible outcome.