On Wednesday, Darrell Issa (R-Cal) became the 31st GOP Congressperson to announce he will not be seeking reelection in 2018. That list is expected to continue growing throughout the coming months. This is a record for the Republicans.
The last time there was a similar exodus was in 1994, when 28 Democrats left Congress and Republicans then took over control.
It’s particularly notable that most of the Republicans who are leaving are from states Hillary Clinton won in 2016. This is a good indicator that they are not expecting to keep the seat in the 2018 elections.
“Retirements, especially from competitive seats, are a harbinger of the cycle to come,” says Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “Some members do truly retire to spend more time with their families, but many retire rather than face voters in a tough re-election in a bad climate. And you’d rather go out on top than go out as a loser.”
NBC News’ Jesse Rodriguez reiterated that point on Twitter:
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) January 10, 2018
So far, 12 of those leaving their seats say they will run for another office. In some states, it would be easier to win a higher office, such as governor, than keep their current seat. For example, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) says he will run for governor.
Democrats will only need to take 24 new seats in the House to take back control. In the Senate, they will need to take 3 seats and defend 25 that they already hold.
When you look at midterm election results going back to the 1950’s, whichever party has the presidency will typically lose an average of 28 congressional seats. What’s different this time is Trump maintains a far lower approval rating than other presidents during the same period.
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In a November Washington Post/ABC News poll, Democrats are shown to have a 51 to 40 percent advantage against Republicans in the midterm elections. According to the RealClear Politics average, Democrats have an 11-point favorability advantage over their opponents.
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