Flipping out

It takes 218 seats to claim a the majority in the House of Representatives, which is itself an entirely majoritarian institution. It’s no fun to be in the minority in the House, as Democrats are about to be reminded.

It appears that the prospective Republican majority in the House will max out at 221 or 222 members. We are still awaiting results in three California races. RCP still shows Lauren Boebert’s race in Colorado as undecided, but Boebert’s opponent has conceded. I think it’s fair to calculate that Republicans stand at 219 as of this morning.

Josh Kraushaar has posted a useful summary of House seats flipped by Democratic and Republican candidates in “America’s frozen midterms.” Kraushaar identifies 18 seats that have flipped from Democrat to Republican and 8 vice versa.

Nine of the 18 Republican flips are located in three states. As has been noted since what we used quaintly to think of as election day, four of the 18 Republican flips are in New York. (Three are in Florida, two in Arizona.) Considering the prominence of New York flips in the equation, one can’t help but be struck by how tenuous the new Republican majority is.

In the entire Midwest we find only three Republican flips — one each in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Both of Iowa’s Senate seats and all four of Iowa’s House seats are held by Republicans. From my perch in the Twin Cities, Iowa is looking pretty, pretty good.

I was intrigued by the Republican flip in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Ron Kind announced his retirement from the seat representing “this increasingly conservative rural district,” as the New York Times described it. Kind puts me in mind of Hamlet’s tortured description of his murderous uncle and new stepfather — “a little more than kin and less than kind” — or at least the “less than kind” part.

Republican Rep.-elect Derrick Van Orden narrowly defeated Democrat Brad Pfaff to take the seat held by Kind. The Times describes Van Orden as “a retired Republican Navy SEAL who rallied at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” The Times phrase “rallied at the Capitol” is ambiguous. In this case it means that Van Orden attended Trump’s January 6 rally (as did New York Third District Rep-elect George Santos). It doesn’t mean he entered the Capitol or rioted inside it.

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