It was always going to be difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hang onto her Democratic majority during the 2022 midterms.
That’s true for a couple of reasons.
One, the party in the White House traditionally loses congressional seats; and two, the Democratic majority in the House was already thin, 221-213, with the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) seat still open.
And now, a rash of Democrat retirements is the surest sign yet that Republicans will dominate the lower chamber come January 2023.
“A trio of Democrats in the House of Representatives – Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, and Albio Sires of New Jersey – last week said that they’ll retire at the end of next year rather than run in the 2022 midterm elections for another term in Congress,” Fox News reported Wednesday, adding that the newly announced retirements bring to 23 the number of Dems not seeking reelection next year.
Though Dems outnumber the GOP in the House by eight seats, Republicans need to capture just five of them to retake the majority and make it exceedingly difficult for President Biden to get much of anything else done ahead of the 2024 election. And Fox News noted that on average, the party in the White House loses 25 seats come the midterm elections. Also, the once-in-10-years congressional redistricting is also expected to favor the GOP, though it’s likely at least a few states’ redistricting maps will be challenged in court.
“This month’s major setback for President Biden and congressional Democrats in their push to pass a sweeping human infrastructure and climate change combating spending bill, along with the five-month downward spiral of the president’s poll numbers, are also doing House Democrats no favors as try to keep the majority next November,” the outlet added.
In August, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who would most likely take over the Speaker’s gavel if Republicans regain the chamber, predicted the current wave of Democratic retirements during an interview in August.
“Once you get past Thanksgiving and members go home, and they’re Democrats and they’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up, Congress is not that great,” he told Fox News at the time, even before President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ approval ratings began to tank, which also is not helping rank-and-file Democrats.
Regarding the redistricting process, McCarthy noted that Democrats would face “new lines where they have to go meet new people.”
He predicted that between Thanksgiving and New Year, Democrats are “going to make a decision to retire, that’s the best time so they can go get another job.”
“When we get that retirement number up higher, into double-digit figures, the whole thing becomes a different play,” he added.
When the House flipped during the 2018 midterms, 23 Republicans retired that cycle compared to just 10 Democrats. This time around, 13 Republicans have announced retirement but only six from elective office; the remainder are running for state offices.
“Only members themselves know why they decide to retire. But if there’s an imbalance of retirements toward one party or another, it sometimes can tell us something about what the party with a lot of retirees thinks might happen in the midterms,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of political handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told Fox News.
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