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‘Not Going to Be a Good Year for Dems’: House Retirements Hit 30-year High

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


As Democratic retirements from the House hit a three-decade high, a new analysis of the 2022 midterms paints a bleak picture for the party and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s razor-thin majority.

According to a report by The Hill, the number of House Dems not seeking reelection has just hit a 30-year high, marking “a bleak benchmark reflecting frustrations with the gridlock on Capitol Hill, the toxicity of relations between the parties and the challenges facing Democrats as they fight to keep their slim majority.”

The report comes as Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York announced this week that she, too, won’t seek reelection, making her the 30th House Democrat to do so. That is the most Democratic retirements since 1992, when 41 party members chose to leave Congress even as voters sent their presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, to the White House.

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The Hill adds:

It marks just the third time since 1978 that either party has seen at least 30 retirements in a single cycle, according to figures tallied by the non-partisan Brookings Institution. The last instance was just four years ago, in the 2018 midterms, when 34 House Republicans made for the exits. It was a grim sign of things to come: The GOP went on to lose 41 seats — and the House majority — in a Democratic wave widely viewed as a referendum on then-President Trump.  

The current blue exodus from Congress could also be seen as “a referendum” on President Joe Biden and his controversial vice president, Kamala Harris, as well as their party’s hard-left agenda:

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This year, it’s President Biden’s Democrats who face the difficult terrain. Between Biden’s sagging approval ratings, a stalled policy agenda in Congress, nationwide redistricting and the historical trend that the incumbent president’s party tends to lose seats in midterm elections, the odds of winning the House are increasingly in the Republicans’ favor. 

According to Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, “there are a lot of signs that this is not going to be a good year for Democrats.”

He went on to say that “a collision of important circumstances” including congressional redistricting means Democrats face stiffening political headwinds.

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“Adding to the Democrats’ woes, the number of retirement announcements will likely continue to grow in the coming weeks as lawmakers get closer to their states’ candidate filing deadlines, many of which are in the spring,” The Hill noted further.

In addition, several states have yet to wrap up their redistricting, pushing back primaries later than normal.

By contrast, only 13 House Republicans have called it quits with two more leaving Congress to take private-sector jobs. Also, most of those seats are safely red. Also, The Cook Political Report, another election analysis firm, has identified 39 Democratic seats as vulnerable heading into the midterms, versus 19 for Republicans.

“The 2022 elections are coming up quick, and Democrats need to decide now whether they want to retire or stick around and get fired,” Calvin Moore, a spokesman for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Republican leaders, told The Hill.

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Democrats have tried to put a good face on the dismal election cycle, but that hasn’t translated into public support, as The Hill adds:

…Recent polls indicate that an overwhelming percentage of Americans are unsatisfied with the direction the country is headed. The sour mood — fueled by soaring inflation rates and national fatigue over the COVID-19 pandemic — has tanked Biden’s approval rating, which stands at just 41 percent.

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In fact, Biden’s approval rating in recent weeks has been lower, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.

According to Fox News last week, the new average of polls show Biden’s approval rating beneath 40 percent for the first time since he took office in January 2021.

“A Real Clear Politics average of all the most recent national surveys measuring Biden’s standing put the president’s approval at 39% and his disapproval at 54%,” the news network reported online.

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