We support our Publishers and Content Creators. You can view this story on their website by CLICKING HERE.
Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) doesn’t want to spoil everyone’s fun, but he sees the 2022 midterm elections a little differently than many of his colleagues. He worries that the “irrational exuberance” that many on his side of the aisle are expressing about a massive Republican landslide is misplaced. And he’s got some solid reasoning to back up his Eeyoreism on GOP prospects for a blowout election victory.
Emmer is responsible for recruiting the candidates, raising money, and choosing likely targets for flipping Democratic seats. He believes the Republicans will gain a solid majority in the House. But he also believes that a 2010-style 63-seat GOP massacre is far out of reach.
Emmer points to the last two redistricting cycles — 2010 and 2020 — as key. Virtually every “toss-up” seat for both parties was eliminated. The psephologist’s computer programs are able to wring every last partisan vote out of a district, carving out safe and friendly territory for nearly everyone.
Emmer has taken to citing three statistics for his Republican colleagues and donors: A gain of 18 seats would give the GOP a bigger majority than in Gingrich’s first days as speaker in 1995; a 30-seat gain would be a bigger majority than after the GOP’s historic 2010 gains; and a 35-seat pickup would create their largest majority in more than 90 years.
Down in Florida, Emmer poked fun at Gingrich for his overly hyped predictions. “He can use whatever numbers he wants to use with that big brain,” Emmer recalled telling his colleagues.
This doesn’t mean that 2022 won’t be a target-rich environment for Republicans. Even districts with a partisan lean of +10 or +15 for Democrats may be in play in certain circumstances. (The partisan lean is the percentage points Biden won by in that district.)
But overall, the nation has become bluer in blue districts and redder in red districts over the last decade. This naturally leads to fewer takeover opportunities.
The NRCC’s target list starts with 16 districts Donald Trump won in 2020 but are now held by Democrats, some of which are much more GOP-leaning after redistricting. There are 11 more seats that Democrats hold in districts Biden won by fewer than 5 percentage points.
After that, Emmer warns his colleagues, Republicans are stretching deep into Democratic territory: about 17 seats Biden won by a margin between 5 and 10 points, and another 31 he won by more than 10 points.
Those “reach” seats will test just how polarized the electorate is, because if political minds are really set in stone, it’s very difficult to win seats such as those held by Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), whose district Biden won by 11 percentage points, and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), whose district Biden won by more than 15 points.
There are going to be a record number of retirements this year. As of June 2022, 50 representatives (31 Democrats and 19 Republicans) have decided to retire, 18 of whom (10 Democrats and eight Republicans) are seeking another office. More Democrats are retiring than have quit over the last 30 years.
Open seats trend toward the party out of power, giving Republicans another advantage.
The current guesstimates of GOP pickups range from 28-35 seats, depending on where the 26 or so toss-up seats fall. That’s a far cry from the 63 seats won by Republicans in 2010, but as Emmer points out, it’s a different map now.
And it’s a different country thanks to Joe Biden and the Democrats.