Sleeper picks: The four Republicans on track to upset Democrats in key midterm races

Wet, wintry weather blows into Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Bands of heavy rain, ice and snow are barreling up the East Coast as millions of Americans take to the roads, skies and rails for Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sleeper picks: The four Republicans on track to upset Democrats in key midterm races

Cami Mondeaux

November 05, 09:26 AM November 05, 09:26 AM

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Republicans are poised to flip several seats and handily win control of the House on Election Day, and recent forecasts have even predicted the GOP has a decent shot of clinching the majority in the Senate.

All eyes have been on the races deemed most vulnerable and likely to flip, as well as a handful of toss-ups that are likely to push either party across the finish line. However, there are a number of sleeper races in which the Republican is on track to upset the Democratic front-runner.


Here’s a breakdown of the top four sleeper races to watch on Tuesday:

Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District: Republican Mike Doyle vs. Democrat Summer Lee

Despite being a relatively safe seat that has been led by a Democrat since 2017, a bit of name confusion could upend Pennsylvania’s 18th District and hand the victory to a Republican.

Summer Lee, a Democrat, is facing a tough challenge from Republican opponent Mike Doyle, who shares a name with Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), who has represented the state in Congress for 14 terms. As a result, several Pennsylvania voters have reported accidentally casting a ballot for Republican Mike Doyle, thinking it was the Democrat.

Lee’s campaign has sought to warn voters about the switch, running ads that read, “Election alert: Democrat Mike Doyle is not on the ballot. A different Republican Mike Doyle is.” Rep. Doyle has also warned voters about the confusion, distinguishing himself as the “real Mike Doyle.”

“Let’s not make any mistake about that,” the Democrat said during a campaign event for gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro on Tuesday. “There’s another guy parading around with my name that does not share our values, who does not deserve to be in the United States Congress, and I want everyone here to understand that we need to get behind state representative Summer Lee and make sure that she wins the 12th legislative district. We need to keep that seat blue.”

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Polling shows Lee has maintained a strong lead over Republican candidate Doyle, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report has ranked the race as leaning Democrat.

Rhode Island’s 2nd District: Republican Allan Fung vs. Democrat Seth Magaziner

Republican Allan Fung is on track to pull out a surprise upset in his deep-blue Rhode Island district race, giving Republicans hope they can flip the crucial seat and win control of the Senate.

A win for Fung would be a major grab for the GOP as Rhode Island’s 2nd District hasn’t elected a Republican in over 30 years. But Fung has benefited from name recognition after serving as the mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, the state’s second-largest city, from 2009 to 2021.

Fung has shown strong polling numbers, leading Democratic opponent Seth Magaziner 45% to 37% in the beginning of October, according to a recent Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll. Magaziner also enjoys name recognition, having won state treasurer twice in 2014 and 2018.

As the race has tightened, national Republicans have become increasingly interested in the race — pouring more than $1 million to buoy Fung as the party hopes to clinch a surprise victory.

Connecticut’s 5th District: Republican George Logan vs. Democrat Jahana Hayes

As polling in Connecticut’s 5th District has tightened, the race has attracted nationwide as a loss for Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes would be the first time an incumbent in the Constitution State has lost reelection.

Hayes faces a strong challenge from state Sen. George Logan, with the race being deemed a toss-up. Hayes benefits from a strong Democratic presence in the state, as Connecticut has had an all-Democratic congressional delegation since the 2008 election cycle and President Joe Biden won the district by 11 percentage points in 2020.

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The most recent polling shows the race in a dead heat, with Hayes and Logan tied at 45% to 45%, according to a survey from the Connecticut Examiner and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates. An average of national polling shows Hayes slightly ahead, pulling 46.7% over Logan’s 45.3% — making the outcome of the race uncertain.

New York’s 17th District: Republican Mike Lawler vs. Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney

Due to recent redistricting in New York that has shifted the boundaries of several congressional districts, what was once considered to be a fairly safe election for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has transformed into a possible liability for the party.

Maloney faces a strong challenge from Republican Mike Lawler, a member of the State Assembly who represents much of the area now incorporated in New York’s newly redrawn 17th District — giving him somewhat of an incumbency advantage.

In the last few weeks before Election Day, polling in the race has become increasingly tighter, giving hope to Republicans of a major pick-up opportunity. Further fueling the race, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating from leaning Democratic to being deemed a toss-up just two weeks before the election.

A loss for Maloney would be a huge blow to Democrats as the New York incumbent serves as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s chairman and is one of the party’s top lawmakers.

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