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Dem Retirements, Redistricting Seen As Edge for GOP in Midterms

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Republicans will have several advantages going into next year’s 2022 midterm elections, according to a new analysis of the political landscape.

The Washington Times noted in a Friday report that Democratic retirements coupled with redistricting efforts in GOP-controlled states and the historical dip in seats for the party in the White House during midterms are all working to Republicans’ advantage:

‘Tis the season for House retirements.

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The natural attrition for incumbents who have either decided to not seek re-election or seek a different office is starting to pick up speed.

So far 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans have announced they are giving up their House seats.

The trend is expected to continue with many eager to learn whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, plans to stick around.

Jon Couvillon, the founder of JMC Analytics & Polling, said the exodus is due to Democrats facing an uphill climb to hold onto the majority next year. Indeed, polls show President Biden’s approval rating in the tank and Republicans leading Democrats on a generic congressional ballot.

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“Life in the House is no fun when you are in the minority,” Couvillon told the Times, comparing the current political landscape to one Democrats faced during the 1996 election and Republicans saw in 2008.

“If you are facing what is a bleak electoral future and you are getting up there in years, that to me answers the why now part of the question for several incumbents that chose to retire,” he said.

In addition, what happens in terms of redistricting will make a huge difference next year and moving forward, according to experts. Several House members are said to be waiting to see how redistricting maps play out before they make a final decision on whether to run again next year, while others — like GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a major Trump opponent — have already found out their districts are going away.

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He is one of the Republican lawmakers who have announced their retirement.

“There may also be a larger than normal list of retirements this cycle due to redistricting,” J. Miles Coleman, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the Times.

He added that retirements are a measure of the current political environment; he referenced the exodus of Democrats in 2010 and Republicans in 2018 before those midterm cycles proved to be difficult for the respective parties.

“Swing district members like Ron Kind or Cheri Bustos leaving would catch my attention as a potential warning sign for Democrats,” he said.

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Bustos in Illinois and Kind in Wisconsin both said earlier this year they won’t run again next year. What’s more, Couvillon said, just 18 states thus far have completed their redistricting maps.

“If you are faced with an unfavorable district and you think you might be in the minority, that to me is throw in the towel time,” he said.

Noted the Washington Times: “The New York Times reported that the maps that have so far been finalized have added a net of five seats that Republicans should win and Democrats lost one. The GOP must flip five Democratic seats to capture control of the House.”

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Democrats who have said they won’t run again in 2022 include Reps. Bernice Johnson of Texas, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Jackie Speier of California and David Price of North Carolina. And Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont said he would run for the U.S. Senate after long-serving Sen. Patrick Leahy announced his retirement earlier this month.

All of which has left Republicans feeling very confident about their chances to at least retake control of the House next year.

“The writing is on the wall: Democrats’ majority is doomed and smart Democrats are calling it quits while they still can,” noted Michael McAdams, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement to the Times.

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