Republicans are projected to win a majority in the House of Representatives, gaining control of the lower house of Congress after four years of Democratic rule.
The Associated Press released the 218th Republican poll — predicting that Rep. Mike Garcia (D-Calif.) will win re-election — around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, more than a week after Election Day.
The Republican Party has long expected to gain control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections. Midterm elections have historically favored the party that does not control the White House, and after Republicans unexpectedly gained seats in the House and lost their Democratic majority in 2020, they needed a net gain of just five seats to take control.
But losses in key districts that came into focus on election night dampened GOP morale. The red tide that Republicans have been teasing for months seemed like it would be more like a ripple.
An unusually long period of uncertainty over control of the House of Representatives has heightened Republican frustration with the election results.
Republican Party leaders since the day after the election, however, have argued that a win is a win.
“Two years ago, when I became leader, Republicans had less than 200 seats in the House. We got 14 seats that cycle when everybody said it was impossible,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) said at a pre-election party in Washington just before 2 a.m., appearing an hour after the initial event. . planned to finish.
Despite underachieving in key targets such as Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s Virginia district and others in Pennsylvania, Republicans picked up victories in blue state New York, including defeating the party’s chief of staff, Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Sean By Patrick Maloney (New York). ).
“Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. I’ve always said that all I can guarantee is that we will get a majority,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (Minnesota) told reporters last week. “How wide and how deep the majority will be depends entirely on the voters.”
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) speaks to reporters after the House GOP leadership election in the 118th session of Congress on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (Greg Nash)
Emmer was rewarded for his efforts in managing the GOP’s re-election campaign by being selected as the House Majority Member at the House GOP Conference on Tuesday, emerging victorious from a tight three-way race for the post.
President Biden’s lagging approval ratings and voter concerns about inflation and the economy created an environment seen as favorable for Republican candidates, but the Supreme Court’s reversal of abortion rights protections in Roe v. Wade over the summer sent Democrats reeling.
But GOP members and staff pointed the finger more at the quality of the losing GOP candidates, as well as the state’s candidates, than at the Supreme Court’s abortion decision for breaking the promised red tide.
“Really, the top of the ticket in a lot of these states and a lot of the races is really hurting us,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.).
The final breakdown of House control likely won’t be known for several weeks as counters count ballots in several closer races.
McCarthy won his party’s nomination for speaker in a secret ballot on Tuesday, but some on the right say he lacks the 218 votes needed to win the House speakership on Jan. 3. Former President Trump, with whom McCarthy maintains a good relationship despite being responsible for the January 6 attack on the Capitol, endorsed McCarthy for the post last week.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, dropped McCarthy’s challenge to the speakership less than 24 hours before the internal conference election. McCarthy handily won the nomination 188-31, but the number of defectors far exceeds the GOP majority cushion, suggesting McCarthy will have some work to do to win a majority on the Jan. 3 vote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters after the House Republican leadership election in the 118th session of Congress, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (Greg Nash)
McCarthy rose through the ranks of the House GOP leadership after he was elected to the House in 2006, and given members of the right wing a seat at the table, not sparring with them like previous GOP leaders. Opposition from the Freedom Caucus preceded the resignation of former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2015.
Conservatives had previously been more hostile to McCarthy, and he worked to mend the relationship. The group rallied to support the challenger when he first ran for speaker in 2015, pushing him out of the race. Firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) suggested as recently as last year that McCarthy didn’t have the votes to be speaker, but now — in a rift with fellow Freedom Caucus Biggs and others — strongly supports McCarthy for speaker, fearing , that a handful of moderate Republicans might support a compromise candidate with Democrats.
A narrower majority will test McCarthy’s handling of the various factions of his conference, from the hard right to the pragmatic moderates.
With Democrats expected to retain control of the Senate, GOP control of the House will be critical to the party’s efforts to thwart the Biden administration.
House Republicans have a broad agenda, which they laid out in a Committed to America policy and messaging platform released in September. But with the White House still in Democratic control and unlikely to adopt many of the GOP’s policy priorities, much attention will be paid supervision and investigations to the Biden administration.
Republicans have long been preparing investigations into the origins of COVID-19, immigration policy on the US-Mexico border, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and alleged politicization at the Justice Department. They also plan to create a special committee on China politicians.
Structural factors such as redistricting, a wave of retiring Democratic incumbents, a focus on recruiting efforts and a flurry of Republican spending contributed to the House GOP’s success in Tuesday’s election.
According to the Cook Political Report, new congressional lines drawn by state legislatures every 10 years after each census have made 17 previously “swing” competitive districts more comfortable for Republicans versus seven seats for Democrats. analysis. The number of places for swings was reduced by about a third.
More than 30 Democrats refused to seek re-election, noting a high in three decades for Democratic resignations and a sign of low confidence in maintaining control of the chamber. In 2018, when Democrats took control of the House, 34 Republicans headed for the exits.
According to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Republicans nominated the most racially diverse candidates in history, with 73 candidates identifying as black, Latino, Asian, Native American, or a combination of these candidates. The House GOP campaign also counted 80 female Republicans on the ballot in November.
Recruiting diverse candidates has been an important part of the Republican Party’s strategy for success in 2022. All the seats Republicans flipped in 2020 went to women, minority candidates, or veterans.
In addition to inflation and the economy, Republicans focused heavily on crime and border policy in midterm messages.
The GOP victory in the House raises questions about the political future of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the two-time speaker and longtime leader of the House Democrats and the first woman to hold the post. She noted that the recent attack on her husband may affect her future plans. Pelosi has said she will decide whether to run for leadership before Democrats hold their internal elections on Nov. 30.
Mike Lillis contributed.