We’re still in that post-holiday period where members of Congress have to fish or cut bait, looking at the landscape and making those decisions as to whether they’re going to run again. If you’re a Democrat, that landscape can’t look good right now, with Joe Biden’s approval in the toilet, inflation, and COVID running rampant with Americans rightly blaming Democrats. On top of that, the recent Gallup poll is showing a huge shift toward the Republicans in party preference.
However, the general stability for the full-year average obscures a dramatic shift over the course of 2021, from a nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a rare five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.
The GOP has held as much as a five-point advantage in a total of only four quarters since 1991. The Republicans last held a five-point advantage in party identification and leaning in early 1995, after winning control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 1950s. Republicans had a larger advantage only in the first quarter of 1991, after the U.S. victory in the Persian Gulf War led by then-President George H.W. Bush.
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That may, in part, explain the red wave that seemed to hit in November around the country, leading to surprising wins in places like Virginia and New Jersey.
If you’re looking at the tea leaves, you’re not liking your chances if you’re a Democrat, particularly if you have to defend your seat in a tough district. When last we left you on the subject, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said it was time to move on and he was going to explore other opportunities. He was the 26th Democrat leaving.
But now, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) are also joining those packing it in, making that the 27th and 28th Democrat heading for the exits, either retiring or seeking other offices. Both announced on Tuesday that they would be retiring.
“I will keep working for the people of my district throughout the remainder of my term and look forward to new opportunities to continue to serve,” McNerney, 70, said in a tweet.
McNerney has represented California in Congress since 2007, in the 9th District since 2013 and in the old 11th District before that.
Langevin, 57, wrote a Providence Journal op-ed explaining his decision.
“I have not come to this decision lightly, but it is time for me to chart a new course, which will allow me to stay closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends. And while I don’t know what’s next for me just yet, whatever I do will always be in service of Rhode Island,” he said.
Democrats start in a bad position with being the party holding the White House, which usually is a disadvantage in the midterms. But when there are a lot of retirements or people leaving going into the midterms, that makes it even worse. In 2018, when the Democrats flipped the House, Democrats won 41 seats after Republicans had 34 people retiring or seeking other offices. So that’s a very bad sign of what looks like a massive red wave coming.
Right now, Democrats hold a very slim lead on seats in the House. Republicans only need to win five seats to take the majority. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is about to be served her walking papers for her Speaker position and I’m looking forward to sending her packing.