Is the President’s Party going to lose the House Again?

House of Representatives

There are 435 members of the US House of Representatives, they are all subject to re-election every two years, including in the Midterm Election on November 8, 2022.

Each of the 50 states is allotted one House seat, with the remainder allocated according to population, counted every ten years in a national Census; the results of the last Census in 2020 will be applied for the first time in the 2022 Midterms, and for the next 10 years. Population shifts in the 2020 Census meant that generally Democratic states in the Northeast and Midwest lost 6 House seats (and Democratic California lost a seat for the first time in its history) and all 7-seat gains were in typically Republican states in the South and West.

The Federal system determines the number of House seats for each state, but states choose how to elect their Representatives: all the states use plurality elections for each seat; states having more than one seat are divided into geographical electoral districts through a process called Redistricting, where once every 10 years they draw districts that are equal in population “as nearly as is practicable”.  This is where Gerrymandering intervenes, a procedure used by both Parties in states where one Party controls Redistricting, creating districts giving a biased advantage to their Party. Many hoped the Supreme Court would outlaw the practice, but the very conservative current Court in 2019 confirmed state’s rights to continue it. In 2022, Republicans control Redistricting in 187 congressional districts, Democrats control it in only 75 districts (neither Party controls the remainder), so Republicans have a clear advantage in the game of Gerrymandering.

One might guess that since House members are elected every two years, there would be a high turnover; quite the contrary, over the last 50 years, more than 93% of incumbents won re-election. However, in 17 of the last 19 Midterm elections, the Presidential Party lost House seats, frequently large losses, especially when the President had low approval ratings. Biden’s current approval rating hovers around 40%, a level comparable to other Presidents having lost Midterm elections.

Democrats hold a razor-thin House majority of 220-212 today, with three vacancies. Majority is 218 seats, so if Republicans gain a net of 6 seats, that is, a net balance of only three currently Democratic seats become Republican, they will control the House and the powers given to the US House of Representatives: approving all legislative acts (along with the Senate), controlling the purse strings by alone initiating all revenue bills and impeaching officials.

Even though some polls show the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing states to take away women’s right to abortion is favorable to Democrats, given the fact that Republicans benefit from results of the Census, Gerrymandering, historical examples and from Biden’s low approval ratings, I believe Democrats are engaged in wishful thinking to believe they can hold their majority: the Republicans will win the House on November 8, almost certainly bringing a new period of gridlock in Washington politics for the next two years.

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