Just over a month after Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair)’s 11th congressional district from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic, the elections forecaster has shifted the race back to Likely Democratic, writing that late spending indicates the race could be somewhat competitive.
“We had previously moved [Sherrill] to Safe Democratic under the belief that her seat (Biden +17) is just too Democratic to flip,” Crystal Ball managing editor Kyle Kondik wrote on Wednesday. “But she was recently the beneficiary of $2 million in spending from billionaire Democrat Michael Bloomberg (through the group VoteVets, as reported by Politico).”
Kondik added that Bloomberg’s spending could simply be repayment for Sherrill’s endorsement of Bloomberg for president in 2020; Bloomberg also shelled out money on Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), another endorser in a blue-leaning seat. Still, Kondik said he thought “the activity merited moving her back to Likely Democratic.”
Sherrill, who was first elected in 2018, faces Republican Paul DeGroot in a district that was redrawn to be far more Democratic. As the Crystal Ball noted, the new 11th district voted for Joe Biden by 17 points and for Gov. Phil Murphy by four, which would be a difficult margin for DeGroot to overcome even against a less formidable incumbent than Sherrill.
The ratings change means the Crystal Ball is once again the only major forecaster to list the 11th district in a competitive category. The Cook Political Report has considered the race to be Solid Democratic since the new congressional map was approved, while the FiveThirtyEight deluxe forecast gives Sherrill a 97-in-100 chance of victory.