The number of House Democrats who are retiring or running for other office has now reached 22, compared to only 11 Republicans. The most recent three to abandon the sinking ship are Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Albio Sires of New Jersey, and Alan Lowenthal of California.
Murphy’s decision is probably the most significant of the three. That’s Chris Cillizza’s view. He writes:
She is widely regarded as a rising star within the party and was expected to run for Senate in 2022 until fellow Rep. Val Demings (D) got into the race against Sen. Marco Rubio (R).
Her 7th District has been targeted by state House Republicans in the Florida redistricting process but it was not yet clear what the final seat would look like. Without Murphy in the race, Republican map-makers will likely work to make the seat considerably more friendly to their side.
Losing a member like Murphy — a prodigious fundraiser and a talented campaigner — is always a blow but more so in an election like this one where Democrats are clinging to their majority.
To me, the wave of retirements shows that, in a very real sense, the Democrats aren’t clinging to their majority. They are recognizing that there’s virtually no hope of retaining it.
As Cillizza says:
When. . .members walk away — either from powerful posts or promising careers — it send[s] a very clear signal to every single member of the Democratic caucus: Things are bad, I don’t see them getting better and now’s the time to head for the hills.
And that message, of course, has a snowball effect as other members wondering about whether to run again see that their colleagues have concluded now is the time to go and jump ship themselves.
I’m thinking that Republicans are likely not just to capture control of the House, but to do so with a majority large enough to make it highly unlikely Democrats can win it back in 2024. In presidential elections, both parties typically enjoy strong turnout and big swings in the House are less likely to occur than in midterm elections.