By Jack Phillips
The head of the Cook Political Report predicted that Democrats are likely to lose more than 20 seats in the House of Representatives during the 2022 midterms.
There is a consensus among analysts that Democrats are likely to lose the House majority, as Republicans only need a net gain of five seats to take control. Historically, the party that’s occupying the White House likely loses seats during midterm elections.
Cook Political Report Editor-in-Chief Amy Walter told MarketWatch on Oct. 27 that the midterms are a “traditional referendum” to policies espoused by the party in power. That means “Democrats [are] losing the House, probably somewhere in the range of 20 seats or more,” she said, noting that any momentum that Democrats appeared to have had over the summer has evaporated.
“But here we are with two weeks to go, and it feels very much as if we’re back to where we were earlier in the year, where the fundamentals still driving the election [are] opinions about the president, opinions about the economy,” Walter said.
Republicans have campaigned on economic issues, warning that Democrats’ policies around energy and spending have contributed to soaring inflation. Last month, the consumer price index—a key metric for price pressures—raised 8.2 percent year-over-year, according to the Department of Labor.
Opinion polls and other surveys have consistently shown that large majorities of Americans are concerned about inflation and the state of the U.S. economy.
“The Democrats can absolutely make the point that Republicans haven’t offered a better solution. But this isn’t a presidential election, it’s a midterm election,” Walter said. “There is not a choice between picking the leader of the party, the leader of the free world. This is about sending a message to the party that’s in charge.
10 Seats Shifted
Cook Political changed the ratings for ten more U.S. House districts in heavily Democrat states toward the Republicans’ direction, including ones in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon. That includes Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Calif.) district, which was changed from “lean D” to “toss up.”
In Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, Cook changed its rating from “toss up” to “lean Republican” after left-wing Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated moderate Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) in the state’s primary earlier this year.
The districts were won by President Joe Biden during the 2020 election, Cook noted.
“The scariest Halloween reality for House Democrats is the number of seats President Biden carried comfortably in 2020 that are at genuine risk a week out,” Cook’s Dave Wasserman wrote. “And if you’re looking for House upsets, the best places to watch might be blue states where there’s no competitive statewide races driving turnout, Democratic governors are underperforming and GOP candidates have been able to seize on high crime and inflation.”
Wasserman later suggested that Republicans in three of those 10 districts benefit from the lack of a Democrat incumbent, which allows the GOP to be more competitive in terms of fundraising. It also wrote that in half the districts, incumbent Democrats running for reelection face redrawn maps with new voters in them.
Those districts are represented by Democrat Reps. Josh Harder (Calif.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Lauren Underwood (Ill.), and Andy Kim (N.J.), the report noted.
The district Porter represents was long a GOP stronghold in California, but was flipped by her in 2018.
Porter is competing against Republican Scott Baugh, an attorney who served in the California state assembly and was the head of the Orange County Republican Party.
A number of analysts and oddsmakers have predicted Republicans are likely to win back the House, although the Senate is much murkier. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats to take back control of the lower congressional chamber.