In politics, history is oftentimes a good predictor of the future. We all know that the party that wins the White House is poised to lose seats in Congress in the following midterm elections. The swing of the political pendulum is also more extreme when Members of Congress opt for retirement rather than lose re-election or be downgraded to the minority party.
In 2008, 12 of the 21 seats Republicans lost were held by incumbents who chose not to seek re-election. In the 2010 red-wave election, Republicans won 14 seats in which incumbent Democrats were not on the ballot. In 2018, 37 Republicans did not seek re-election, resulting in a Democratic pick-up of 13 seats. So with President Biden dragging along a 37.8% job approval rating according to the latest USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll (11/3-5) – Vice President Harris scored an abysmal 27.8% job approval rating in the same poll! – how many Congressional Democrats are heading for the exits? Let’s take a look.
Democrats are currently clinging to 50 seats in the Senate with Chuck Schumer at the helm. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a 3-seat majority with a 221-213 breakdown. About a month before the 2021 elections, which saw a Republican Red Wave wash through New Jersey and Virginia, three senior House Democrats announced retirement.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, announced his retirement, followed one week later by veteran legislators Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. David Price (D-NC), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. To date, 13 House Democrats have announced that they will not be returning to Capitol Hill, five of which are seeking another office.
How many members opt to call it quits in the coming retirement holiday season is yet to be seen, but given Democrats’ poll numbers across the country, it could be huge leading into next year’s midterm elections which already favor Republicans. Add to that the redistricting process, which is presently underway, and you can see even more Democrats heading for the exits as blue states like California and New York lose two seats each.
“If vulnerable Democrats were smart, they’d retire now and save themselves the embarrassment of having to defend their toxic socialist agenda,” National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) spokesman Michael McAdams told The Hill. Democrat infighting, a stalled Biden agenda, and a recent red wave that saw a Republican retake the Governor’s mansion in Virginia for the first time in over a decade gives Republicans a likely chance to take back the House. Following Democrats’ stinging loss in the Old Dominion state and a narrower then an expected win for New Jersey’s Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) had this warning for vulnerable Democrats: “Retire or lose.”
“Those remarks came as the NRCC expanded its list of targets on Wednesday, adding 13 new Democratic incumbents in solidly blue, suburban districts, sending a signal that the GOP is prepared to go on offense in parts of the country that they previously appeared unlikely to win,” The Hill reported.
With 13 seats by House Democrats now open and more retirements expected to come after the holidays, Republicans have the wind at their backs heading into 2022, and the Biden administration continues to give voters more reasons to ditch the Democrats.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action.