In the midterms, Democrats captured nearly 40 seats previously held by Republicans, but those losses weren’t spread evenly across the country. The GOP suffered concentrated blows in four states: California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each flipped four seats to the Dems, and Virginia delivered three. These results reflected the flawed, flailing candidates at the top of the ticket: gubernatorial nominees in California and Pennsylvania both lost by more than 17 percentage points, the U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia lost by sixteen, and even scandal-tarred Democrat Senator Bob Menendez crushed his New Jersey challenger by 11.
Such non-competitive statewide races discourage loyal Republicans from bothering to vote, dooming down-ballot candidates. To take back the House in 2020, the GOP needs not only a strong race by the President, but credible, energetic nominees for Governor and Senate in every state, to give House candidates a shot at success.