House Republicans need to flip only five seats in 2022 to regain control of the House. Their prospects brightened considerably with the release of preliminary census data that showed Texas and Florida gaining seats while New York, California, and Illinois lost representation.
The significance isn’t lost on either party, with both looking for any advantage going into the 2022 midterm elections.
At first, the Democrats were confident that dozens of Republican seats would be at risk for the members’ vote on certifying the election. That is proving not to be the case as the Capitol riot fades into memory.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been salivating to run against the Democrats’ radical agenda, their support for Black Lives Matter, and their relative silence on the street violence. Add to that the crisis at the border, and Republicans think they can cobble together a winning national message.
To that end, the National Republican Congressional Committee has added 10 additional targets to the list of seats held by Democrats that Republicans will look to flip in 2022.
All 10 of the incumbent Democrats represent states, such as California and New York, that are set to lose a House seat thanks to the 2020 census, which will shift the balance of congressional seats for the next decade.
House Republicans had already said they were targeting 47 of their Democratic colleagues in an initial list released in February. Some of those 47 have since said they won’t seek reelection, including Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who said Friday this would be her final term, and Filemon Vela of Texas. Others on the original list are eyeing the exits, including Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat of Florida, who is expected to announce a gubernatorial run Tuesday.
When the final census tally is released and the outline of redistricting becomes clearer, Republicans are in line to flip at least three seats. It may be more if the courts let them get away with a little creative gerrymandering. Democrats will be hardpressed to draw district lines that protect every one of their incumbents. Their gerrymandering will look to reduce Republican representation in their states. The result will probably be that the extra districts in Florida and Texas will go to Republicans while at least one Democrat will lose his or her seat in Illinois.
Rep. Bustos was smart to get out while the getting was good. Trump won her district with 62 percent of the vote in 2020 and IL-17 will be at the top of a lot of lists to flip in 2022.
There are three Democrats who have already announced they aren’t running for re-election in 2022 and there will almost certainly be a lot more when it becomes clearer that the Democrats’ prospects to keep the House dim. Republican retirements will also create some excitement, as the party sloughs off some lukewarm Trump supporters in favor of true believers.
If Republicans can find the right messaging, Election Day 2022 will be a dark day in the history of the Democratic Party.