House Republican leaders are expressing optimism about their chances to flip the House from Democrats to the GOP in November. Despite the challenges facing the party — challenges that almost all political pros from both parties agree are daunting — there may, indeed, be room for looking on the sunny side of the contest.
Most political experts dismiss Republican chances of winning back the House. They point to the 41 seats that flipped in the 2018 midterms, a record number of Republican retirements, and a big cash advantage for Democratic incumbents.
But a large number of those seats that flipped during the midterm aren’t going to be easy to defend — especially since many of those seats are in the heart of Trump country, National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) explained.
“Just do the math. There are 43 House Democrats sitting in more Republican seats than the one we just won in California last week. And remember, we now only need 17 to reclaim the majority,” [Emmer] said. “One of the reasons the House flipped [in] 2002 was because of the momentum that was created by special election victories.”
Those special election victories in California and Wisconsin opened some eyes among the punditry. The California race was expected to easily go to the Democrat. But Mike Garcia won going away over a Democratic woman, Christy Smith. It was the first GOP flip of a Democratic House seat in California in 22 years.
And while Wisconsin’s Rep. Tom Tiffany was expected to win in a pro-Trump district, his 14-point victory was a surprise.
Emmer says the enthusiasm is spreading.
“I use the term bullish. You know, part of this job is you’ve got to put together a game plan, and then you got to get all the players on your team to buy into the game plan. And once they start believing, once they start to see it actually being effective when you implement the game plan, you’re going to hear a lot of our members start telling you, ‘You know what? I thought this was a 50-50 chance, you know, maybe a little bit less … but I’m starting to believe that our chances are much better than 50 percent,'” he told The Hill in an interview, noting that he feels confident with where they stand with five months to go.
Before we get too carried away, it should be noted that Democrats currently have a 6-1 cash advantage in their races, although Republicans have outraised Democrats the last two months. There are also 27 GOP retirements as of this week, although many of those seats are in safe Republican districts. There are certainly going to be more before the votes are cast.
And while Democrats are right to point out that special elections draw few voters, they neglect to mention that Trump wasn’t on the ballot in 2018. Considering the number of vulnerable Democrats sitting in pro-Trump districts along with surprising momentum going forward, the GOP optimism may not be misplaced after all.
I think Republicans will gain a number of seats but fall short of winning a majority. Realistically, Republicans are targeting 2022 when the numbers could be more favorable.