A combination of factors, including widespread unpopularity and historical trends, suggests that the Democratic Party is likely to lose its control of Congress after next year’s midterm elections.
Another problem for party leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is a steady stream of retirements: At least 23 House Democrats have now decided not to seek re-election.
“An imbalance of retirements”
The latest batch of announcements came from Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Albio Sires (D-NJ).
Fox News referred to a spike in retirements as a possible “early barometer of things to come” in the approaching midterm races.
“Only members themselves know why they decide to retire,” acknowledged Kyle Kondik of the nonpartisan political newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “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.”
There are currently 10 more House Democrats set to retire than House Republicans. It is worth noting that more than half of the GOP lawmakers stepping down from the chamber are planning to seek another elected office.
It all seems to add up to a tough battle for Democrats who will be fighting to defend their slim majority on Capitol Hill. Republicans will need to pick up just five seats to regain a majority in the House.
More good news for Republicans
For the GOP, a number of things appear to be going in its favor, including the historical precedent that the party not in control of the White House generally makes significant gains in the next midterm election.
Another potential boon for Republicans is the current redistricting based on the latest census numbers. GOP candidates are expected to have a slight advantage as a result and could pick up a few House seats because of the new congressional maps.
Vulnerable Democrats might be seeing the writing on the wall as they consider whether to step down from Congress instead of facing a tough re-election campaign.
As FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley noted, there is a distinct possibility that more Democratic lawmakers will make similar announcements in the coming days and weeks.
“Historically, a sizable number of retirements have happened within two to four months of a state’s candidate filing deadline, so we’re very likely to see more departure announcements this cycle,” he wrote.