House Dems desert sinking ship

There isn’t much doubt that Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives following next year’s election. This article by CNN’s Chris Cillizza strongly suggests that House Democrats don’t doubt their impending loss of control.

Cillizza observes that 18 House Dems have decided to retire or run for higher office in 2022. Only 11 House Republicans will be moving on. By contrast, at this point in the 2020 election cycle, only eight Democrats had called it quits as compared to 20 Republicans.

Here’s another way of looking at it. According to Cillizza, of the 18 Democratic open seats, fully one third are in districts Donald Trump won or lost narrowly (by five points or less) in 2020. If Republicans were to pick up those seats and those seats only, it would give them a majority in the House, assuming no GOP losses.

Moreover, as Cillizza reminds us, Glenn Youngkin ran 12 points better than Trump did in Virginia, a reflection, to a significant degree, of the shift in the landscape since 2020. The landscape may improve for Dems or it may get worse, but a 12 point swing nationally would destroy any prospect of Democrats being a force in the next House.

Consider, for example, New York’s 3rd District. Its congressman, Tom Suozzi, has just announced he’ll be stepping down to run for governor of New York. Joe Biden carried this district by 11 points, but Hillary Clinton carried it by only six. Suozzi’s margin was similar to Clinton’s and, at 12.5 points, a bit larger than Biden’s.

If Suozzi were running for reelection next year, the math suggests that it might well be touch and go for him. For a non-incumbent, the sledding is very likely to be even tougher.

Cillizza speculates that Suozzi’s exit might also impede New York Dems from ousting a pair of GOP incumbents through redistricting:

Democrats control the redistricting process in New York. And the line-drawers had designs on pinching Republicans — most notably in Lee Zeldin’s 1st District and Andrew Garbarino’s 2nd — on Long Island. An open seat in Suozzi’s 3rd District could well complicate that plan.

Cillizza also makes the important point that the great escape by congressional Dems has accelerated recently and is likely to continue:

In the last 13 days, five House Democrats have said they will retire or run for higher office next year. It began on November 16 with California’s Jackie Speier retiring, followed two days later by North Carolina’s G.K. Butterfield and then two days after that by Texas’ Eddie Bernice Johnson. Two days after that Vermont Rep. Peter Welch said he was running for the state’s open Senate seat. And then, on Monday, came the Suozzi decision. . . .

[Y]ou can be absolutely sure that the sum total of their retirements has an impact on their colleagues — and how they think about their own futures. Already two committee chairs (Bernice Johnson and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth) have made clear their plans to retire. That doesn’t usually happen if there is a belief within the caucus that they will continue to hold the majority. . . .

The problem for Democrats is all of this feeds on itself in a negative cycle. Members retire because they think the political landscape looks bleak, which makes the political landscape bleak(er), which leads more members to retire, which makes the political environment — well, you get it.

(Emphasis added)

Congressional Dems get it and should bear it in mind before stripping any more GOP members of their committee assignments.

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