On Politics With Lisa Lerer: Potential Midterm Upsets We’re Watching


Here are some of the races we’re watching for their upset potential:

Steve King – House – Iowa

The anti-immigration firebrand, who has aligned himself with white nationalist candidates in Europe and Canada, is being badly outspent, rejected by the local press, and abandoned by party leadership and corporate donors. It’s starting to show: A new poll released today shows him neck and neck with the Democrat J.D. Scholten, in a district President Trump won by 27 points. So could the eight-termer go down? A loss would cost Mr. Trump one of his biggest champions.

Robert Menendez – Senate – New Jersey

A Republican hasn’t won a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey in nearly 50 years. But it could happen next week. Democrats have poured millions into saving the scandal-plagued Senator Robert Menendez from a defeat by the Republican pharmaceutical C.E.O. Bob Hugin. It’s a race the Democrats have to win: Given the expected losses in deep-red states like North Dakota, they can hardly afford a defeat in blue New Jersey.

Kris Kobach – Governor – Kansas

Democrats rejoiced when Kris Kobach, a close Trump ally and anti-immigration hard-liner, narrowly won a Republican primary in the Kansas governor’s race. Fast-forward a few months, and the Democratic nominee Laura Kelly now holds a slight edge in the three-way race. A Democratic win could be a trifecta for the party: A Great Plains governor’s mansion, veto power in the next round of redistricting and potential pickups in House races.

Kristi Noem – Governor – South Dakota

Exactly how Republican is South Dakota? The last Democratic governor left office in 1979. But Billie Sutton, a disabled former “rodeo man,” is making a surprisingly strong bid for governor against the four-term Republican Representative Kristi Noem. Mr. Sutton, who’s running as an anti-abortion conservative Democrat, has a compelling life story and an ex-Republican as his running mate. Either way, the outcome will be historic: Ms. Noem would be the first woman to lead the state.

Safe G.O.P. House Seats – New York Metro Area

Can Democrats flip Staten Island? What about Representative Pete King’s seat on Long Island? None of these scenarios feel super likely, but there’s enough Democratic energy that we wouldn’t be surprised if the Republicans lose a few longstanding districts in the New York-New Jersey metro area. The most likely candidate is New Jersey’s 11th District, where the former prosecutor Mikie Sherrill is mounting a strong bid for the seat held for decades by the Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen.


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