Departures Narrow Democrats’ Path to Hold the House

Red Runney

Jun 22, 2022
Bettendorf IA
In a midterm election cycle in which Democrats’ majority is at stake, the rash of retirements has complicated their efforts to hold the House.

Political handicappers expect at least six open seats alone — some of them skewed conservative by redistricting — to swing into Republican control, in Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, Michigan and Florida. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to win back the majority.

Elsewhere around the country, Democrats may be able to hang on to their open seats, but the incumbent exodus will make doing so more costly, leaving less money for the party to fight it out in other competitive races.

Republicans claim credit for helping to orchestrate the retirements. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Republican leaders, began advertising early against Democratic incumbents in competitive districts, offering a preview of the political attacks they would face in the midterms in an effort to goad them into leaving Congress. The strategy, said the group’s president, Dan Conston, “paid dividends.”

“Many of the best offense opportunities in the House this cycle are open seats because we’ve erased all of the incumbents’ natural advantages like resources and voter familiarity,” Mr. Conston said. “Democrats are already walking away from key open seats, and this is inevitably the first group they’ll cut off.”