Will Republicans win back the House in 2022? Here’s how the race looks today
A reminder: A net gain of five seats is not the same thing as winning five seats. A party needs at least 218 seats to win control of the House. While Republicans are trying to flip seats this year, so are the Democrats — so any GOP wins will have to be offset by any losses they incur.
Overall, the biggest takeaway from redistricting is that the number of competitive House seats has shrunk, which means that in most states, primaries — rather than general election contests — will be the main event.
On the same day as the NRCC announcement, House Majority PAC — the leading Democratic super PAC focused on House races — publicized TV and digital advertising reservations of more than $100 million across 50 media markets. That’s nearly double the amount the group made in initial reservations in 2020.
But the majority of the NRCC’s targets are seats that Biden won. That goes to show just how few “crossover” districts — those that voted one way for president but backed a US House representative of a different party — are left for Republicans to try to flip.
Increasingly nationalized and partisan elections have done away with the likes of former Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat whose district voted for Trump by the biggest margin — 30 points — in 2016. But after narrowly holding on to his sprawling, rural district in 2018, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee went down in 2020.
They’re also hoping they may be able to make a play for some of the traditionally GOP-leaning suburban districts that moved away from them during the Trump era.
Democratic retirements have also set up a few enticing pickup opportunities for Republicans. Retiring Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has often touted her success in a Trump-voting district. Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, who is running for Senate, talks up his record of winning in Trump country. But both are leaving behind seats that will see competitive races, according to Inside Elections.
Democrats on defense
Democrats hoping to maintain their House majority need to defend the seats they have, while also looking to pick up a few more to help offset the inevitable losses they’re likely to incur in a midterm year with their party holding full control of Washington (the White House, Senate and House).
House Democrats’ top defensive holds are incumbents the DCCC calls “Frontline” members. Many of these incumbents have had tough races before, and some of their districts became more favorable in redistricting, although perhaps not enough to ensure a comfortable reelection in a difficult national environment.
Many of the DCCC’s Frontliners who won in 2018 — when Democrats flipped the House during Trump’s presidency — are used to raising huge sums of money. They set new quarterly records for hauls in the millions that put even some Senate candidates to shame. But not all Democrats who potentially face competitive races this year after redistricting are accustomed to that level of campaigning. Two longtime incumbents, Reps. Sanford Bishop of Georgia and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, haven’t faced competitive elections in years.
Democrats believe they can remain competitive in the suburbs, which soured on Republicans under Trump. Still, Trump is not in office or on the ballot, which will be a test of whether Democrats can sustain base voter enthusiasm without him.