By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Less than a year out from the November 2022 midterm elections, Republicans are in a position to pick up more seats than previously expected after redistricting was finalized across the states and 44 members of Congress, a majority of them Democrats, are either retiring or aren’t running for reelection.
Skyrocketing inflation and energy costs and President Joe Biden’s declining polling numbers could result in Democrats losing dozens of Congressional seats, political analysts indicate.
As of this month, six sitting members of the U.S. Senate and 38 in the U.S. House are leaving office, according to calculations by Ballotpedia. Of the 37 leaving the U.S. House, 26 are Democrats and 12 are Republicans.
The majority – 28 – are retiring. They include six senators, five of whom are Republicans, and 22 representatives, 17 of whom are Democrats.
The remainder, 15, are running for another office. Eight House members are running for a U.S. Senate seat, evenly split among Republicans and Democrats, with four each. They are from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama.
Three House members are running for governor – one Democrat and one Republican in New York, and one Democrat in Florida.
Others are running for state and local offices in Texas, Maryland, California and Georgia. They include one Republican running for secretary of state, one Republican and one Democrat running for attorney general, and one Democrat running for mayor.
No U.S. Senator is running for another office; all six are retiring. They include Republicans Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that Republicans hold a 10-point margin over Democrats in a generic congressional race. Pres. Biden’s approval rating on the economy was 39%, and his overall approval rating was 41% at the time.
A December Rasmussen Reports survey also found that voters favored Republicans over Democrats by 13 points, 51%-38%, at the time.
An even wider margin of 22% was found among voters who identify as Independents, who said they would choose a generic Republican over a generic Democrat by a margin of 48%-26%.
Currently, Democrats hold a nine-seat majority in the U.S. House. The U.S. Senate is split, with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents, with the Independents caucusing with the Democrats, and the Democratic vice president acting as a tie breaker.
This could change with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin considering leaving the Democratic Party. “I would like to hope that there are still Democrats that feel like I do,” Sen. Manchin told a local West Virginia radio station, as reported by the Washington Post. “Now, if there’s no Democrats like that, then they’ll have to push me wherever they want me.”
Sen. Manchin also told reporters last month that he’d consider leaving the Democratic Party if he were to become “an embarrassment to my Democrat colleagues,” as a “moderate centrist Democrat.” He said he’d still caucus with the Democrats, enabling them to keep the majority temporarily.
Historically, since the end of World War II, the sitting president’s party has lost seats nearly every midterm election.
A total of 469 seats in Congress are up for reelection in 2022, including 34 in the Senate and all 435 in the House.
As a result of changing demographics reported by the 2020 Census, six states gained congressional seats, with Texas gaining \two. Five states gained one seat: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Seven states lost a seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.