Why Retirements May Hold the Key in Whether Republicans Can Keep the House

Incumbency is a powerful edge for the G.O.P. right now, in addition to its advantages in gerrymandering and geography.

Comments: 40

  1. The addition of Roy Moore to the Senate will energize the republican right and Bannon will make more millions advocating rabble rousing republican primaries. Centrist and even moderate right-wing republicans will take notice and give up the game. They will take their very comfortable retirement pensions and health care programs and run. There is no hope for them: in office but without power. That is the hope of the democrats as they plan for 2018.

  2. That and maybe some repubs that aren't in the comfortable retirement zone yet will simply flip parties.

  3. A little paralysis through analysis Nate. I am sure most of what you say it true, but it matters very little if the democrats don't come up with a viable platform to run on. Hillary lost because she ran a identity obsessed, I love wall street and never met a trade agreement or war I did not like. The key for democrats re taking back the House and Senate is to run a moderate progressive, populist campaign that addresses the issues above that Trump demagogued.

  4. "Hillary lost because she ran a identity obsessed, I love wall street and never met a trade agreement or war I did not like." With all due respect paul, I believe Mrs. Clinton lost for a myriad of reasons rather than the few you suggested which resulted in more people than not did not trust her nor did they like her. She could not pull off a victory in 2008 nor in 2016. Many Americans did not want her in the White House. However, after what we've witnessed since January 2017 with Donald Trump in the White House, how much worse would Mrs. Clinton's presence actually have been? Lately, the Democrats remind me a lot of the way the Chicago Bears have been playing - many a golden opportunity has presented itself only to find an election slipped through various Democratic candidates' elections - much like the Bears being able to hold onto through out much of the game only to lose in the end.

  5. One more thing Marge. Yes you are correct. Hillary would have been better than Trump but that is not saying much. Bottom line Trump is a bigot, pathological liar, admitted sexual predator, rabble rouser ego maniac demagogue. He was not qualified and the people who voted for him were "wrong". (wrong in quotes, because his voters choose the greater of two evils) However, the democratic party enabled and co-depended on Trump by nominating Hillary. Bernie would have been a better choice and most likely would have carried Wisc., Pa, and Mich. since he campaigned in those states against trade agreements and loss of jobs and would be our president instead of the demagogue Trump.

  6. Thank you for your reply Marge...sorta half agree with you. Yes there was the comey thing, her email, russian hacking etc. etc...those in the long run were relatively minor things..excuses why she lost. It as much helped her as hurt her. In the end she was too deep into things that were unpopular in America that Trump successfully demagogued. In the end she could not take back her love for any war that came up, love of wall street and any trade agreement ever made. She doubled down on identity politics, an issue only her more extreme part of her liberal base was interested in. Those votes were already in her pocket. My opinion is backed up by facts. She lost Mich., Pa, Wisc, states she was supposed to win by a relatively small margin. Loss of good paying blue collar jobs to slave labor countries was the critical issue there. Trump successfully demagogued it, Hillary could not take back her past votes.

  7. A key factor in winning Congressional seats is obviously challenger’s quality. As the perception of a favorable wave election months prior to the filing deadlines increases, the quality of challenger candidates and their financing improves. Early optimism of a Democratic wave is now greater than any year going back to 1974.

  8. What happens if the incumbent runs, wins, and then retires?

  9. My understanding is that then the state's governor can fill the position until a special election can be schedule. But I don't know if that's across the board in all states. Since there's a lot of Republican governors that doesn't help the Dems much.

  10. What is the expected impact of disenfranchising that part of the voter base that would be more likely to vote for Democrats? It's not the public distractions that trouble me, it's what's going on behind the scenes.

  11. Whatever the odds, a perfect storm is brewing among independents, non-voters, and third party nihilists. They stupidly let Trump sneak in, and have been regretting it ever since.

  12. I hope you are right.

  13. Good job David! You like most democrats blame and vilify the very groups of people you need to win any election in America. I seriously doubt the Democratic Party will fare well in 2018 because they have spent all of 2017 (and probably 2018) berating the independents, the progressive people who want to restore income and wealth EQUALITY in America. The identity politics stuff will take care of itself when everyone is feeling economically secure, and they have their health issues covered.

  14. Then there are Democrats in Congress sitting on their hands and saying "oh my". Coupled with Democrats who don't vote, it's Armageddon for the country (but see paul from Brooklyn for a plan).

  15. I hate to say this, being a Democrat, but gerrymandering will only get you so far. In the end, people still need to register by party and to vote. If the Democrats were offering such a compelling alternative that more than 50% of the country routinely flocked to their side, this wouldn't be an issue. They would win regardless of Republican efforts. But they don't win, do they? They lose - in district after district after state house after state house. Perhaps the problem lies within.

  16. I agree completely. The democratic losses can be summed up by their committee designed slogan: 'A better deal'. You've got to be kidding me. What's wrong with 'Truth, Justice, and the American Way'. Well - The democratic party doesn't represent that any more. It represents Goldman Sachs, open borders, and the LGBTQ community more than it supports raising the minimum wage to a living wage and creating a regenerative economy that works for all of us. I am a democrat and I anticipate future losses until we listen more to Bernie Sanders and less to Chuck Schumer.

  17. I don't think your fair to Chuck Schumer. He does the best he can given his position and constituents. And unlike DT, he is a positive and thoughtful human being. I don't always agree with him, but he did management to help defeat the revised healthcare bill in the senate two times.

  18. Due to gerrymandering a minority of the nation governs our statehouses . and draws our congressional districts. And twice elected a president in less than twenty years.

  19. I remember that in 2006 there were at least a dozen seats that Cooke thought the Democrats had little or no chance of turning - but they did turn. The disgust with Bush and the Iraq War had "trumped" normal analytic factors. With a President who struggles to get a 40% approval rating it is not unlikely that this could happen again. This is especially true when the findings of the Mueller investigation is made public whci is likely to happen before the mid terms.

  20. Instead of retiring, why don't moderates join the Democratic Party?

  21. I agree!

  22. yeah! I have heard Charlie Dent speak and wonder why he's not a Dem. Also, how much does Trump have to insult you before you leave the party? When the top boss insults me I get the hint and pack up desk and leave. Doubt that Trump would come crawling back to any of his insultees to invite them back - unlike one insulting boss I had. But if you could truly run Congress like a business you could offer the incumbents large money incentives to stay on before they go to the competition. But since there's no other congressional branch the Party has to rely on the enticement of power. A business could simply get out their check book.

  23. There are a few important reasons and I think this is why Republicans nearly passed Trump's healthcare plan even though it was unpopular even with Republican voters: - if you retire or are defeated as a good Republican, you can get a VERY lucrative job in the afterlife - you can be a lobbyist, a commentator, etc. - if you go against "the family", you will be disowned and shunned after you lose the election - the Democrats wouldn't take them in - they'd prefer one of their own who is more liberal and not a turncoat. The Republican would likely be tarred with at least some appeasement of Trump and Company. This is why the Republicans would nearly universally "take one for the team" over Obamacare and other issues. If it costs them their next election, they still win in the end. The consequences for being a black sheep are much worse for the individual congressperson.

  24. "Mr. Obama won around 240 of today’s congressional districts while winning the national popular vote by seven points in 2008. " --- When are "analysts" going to admit that in 2008 my CAT could have won as POTUS with a D after his name? It was a redux of 1932. Economy had crashed - biggest crash since 1932 as it was the first global financial crisis since 1932. Job losses were piling up at the rate of 500,000, 700,000 a month. There was no way in the known universe that a Republican could win. Data from 2008 is MEANINGLESS - unless there is another huge economic crash. In 2012 Obama was re-elected but by LESS of a margin than he won in 2012. He was ONLY the 2nd POTUS to be re-elected while LOSING support -other was James Madison and DC had just been burned -as on fire -in the War of 1812. (Advantage of the incumbency and McCain's stupid comment is what saved Obama) Look at the 2012 results for the maximum depth of D support - not 2008

  25. All good points AnnS - and I'll go one further. One could say that the Democratic Party made a mistake in nominating Obama in 2008, even though he won, because (i) his victory came in spite of his race and (ii) his race limited the Democrats' gains in Congress that year. On (i), Obama narrowly lost a few states (Missouri, Montana and Georgia) that a white Democratic nominee would have won, and got blown out in other states (West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana) that traditionally voted for winning Democratic nominees but stayed away from Obama. On (ii), having a white Democratic nominee would have probably resulted in a bigger House gain than the 21 seats the Democrats got that year, and could have made the difference in the Senate races in Kentucky (where Bruce Lunsford narrowly lost to McConnell) and Georgia (where Jim Martin lost a run-off to Saxby Chambliss). Those were crucial races that, if they had gone the other way, would have given the Democrats 60 Senate votes (instead of 58) at the beginning of '09 (Arlen Specter and Al Franken didn't come on board until later in the year). 60 Senate votes from the get-go would have probably resulted in a bigger stimulus, meaning a stronger economic recovery, and perhaps a more progressive ACA. The nomination of Obama in 2008 was a historic step for this country, and was quite brave politically - but the ugly truth is that it also proved costly politically, and perhaps policy-wise as well.

  26. Gerrymandering was an early Democratic party tactic. From: Wikipedia (so it HAS to be true) "In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts to the north of Boston was said to resemble the shape of a salamander. Gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor's last name and the word salamander." The Democratic party uses gerrymandering every bit as much as the Republican party. It's only a "bad" thing when they are looking for excuses to explain their political losses.

  27. The Democratic-Republican Party dissolved in 1828.

  28. Gerrymandering is bad for everyone. Just because everyone has used it doesn't make it right. Plus, we now we have computers which make gerrymandering "extra bad" and resistant enough to change in demographics. PS, the Democratic-Republican party is not the same as the Democratic Party. Here is the Wikepedia link if that helps at all: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic-Republican_Party

  29. Yes, it's a bipartisan thing. Take a look at the district for Democrat Luis Gutierrez around Chicago, yikes. But that both parties do it is not some excuse for why it's a good thing. It would be better for the country to have less gerrymandering, and thus more competitive districts, resulting in more centrist candidates. The current system of gerrymandered safe districts rewards crazy extremists on both sides.

  30. Once again. "Democrats can win if..." then the "reasons" are "if more Republicans retire", "if we get rid of the Electoral College", "if more minorities vote (that's called using people simply for their votes)". Nowhere do we ever see what the Democrat message is or who any front runners are. It's always about how to weed out Republicans, not offer anything to draw anyone to their cause. Because they have no cause other than hate Trump. OK, then what? Bernie will be 80 in 2020, yet many want him to run again. The same people who said Sen McCain was way too old in 2008.

  31. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black. Who's been spewing hatred the last few years or so. Have you forgotten the hatred of Obama and the well ensconced hatemongers like Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News. Read Stephens column today; he is rock hard conservative, was with the Wall Street Journal. See what he says about how hatred is name of the game among Republicans'; for Republicans. As for hating Donald Trump; pick any set of values democracy values, religious values, moral values, civility; patriotic values; if you hold dear any of these and you don't hate what Trump has done in less than a year; you're fooling yourself.

  32. I love reading speculative stories. But we won't know who the winners are until the elections are over.

  33. For those incumbents who have voted to approve the really appalling bills, such as any of the Repeal and Replace facades or the NRA backed law to allow those with certified mental impairments to purchase firearms, the next stage of their lives will go much smoother if it is noted that they retired from Congress rather than they were voted out of office. Those foregone town hall meetings should have been attended.

  34. Unfortunately, winning takes coordination which the Democrats are sorely lacking. Pair that with the absences of a platform other than "they said that so we'll say this" and a flag-bearer who could possibly run for President or at least serve as a Party figurehead for now (no, it's not Schumer, Bernie or Pelosi) and the odds go to "low-to-zero". Then there's the Millennials' reluctance to trudge all the way to the voting booth for mid-term elections.... People, seriously, we can do better than this.

  35. The biggest problem with democracy is the election system isn't working. SIngle member districts, both in the US and UK, allow dominant minorities (between 30-40% of the population to gain more than 50% of the seats in govt. Gerrymandering has increased that minority dominance. The US needs to go to a system more like the one in Germany: a mixed direct election for about 50% of the seats with the other seats filled by proportional representation. The problem is the system. Dems need to advocate for democracy, not power.

  36. There's a factor that hasn't gotten much attention. There is some possibility that an appreciable chunk of Trump's 2016 voters will conclude that, although they want Trump in the White House, his impulses should be controlled and a Democratic House would do that better than a Republican one. This is in part what happened with Obama. After electing Obama in 2008, voters handed him a Republican House in 2010. That didn't mean that voters wanted Obama out, as we learned in 2012 - just that voters wanted a partisan check on him. I don't know how likely this scenario is, since I haven't seen any directly applicable polling, but I think the possibility must be considered. Certainly Trump has given voters, even voters who agree with Trump's policy positions, plenty of reasons to look for a moderating influence. politicsbyeccehomo.wordpress.com

  37. Incumbents often get to pick their voters with the aid of like partied state legislators.Everybody wants a safe seat. It can be an insurmountable edge .

  38. Once again. "Democrats can win if..." then the "reasons" are "if more Republicans retire", "if we get rid of the Electoral College", "if more minorities vote" (that's called using people simply for their votes). Nowhere do we ever see what the Democrat message is or who any front runners are. It's always about how to weed out Republicans, not offer anything to draw anyone to their cause. Because they have no cause other than hate Trump. OK, then what? Bernie will be 80 in 2020, yet many want him to run again. The same people who said Sen McCain was way too old in 2008.

  39. Dems have been on the wrong side of two issues that resonate with many Americans: immigration and economics. Many working people see Dems as do-gooders who, like Merkel, don't understand that there are limits to lifeboat USA. The Repubs like the cheap labor of immigrants, to abuse and walk away from, but many Americans see Dems as willing to bring many more desperate immigrants to the US, sinking lifeboat USA. As for economics, the Dems since B Clinton have supported neo-liberal economics. Good for the mandarin class; not good for working class Americans. While many people dislike Trump, the failure of Dems to address real world issues has led many working people to abandon the party of FDR, working people, children who are struggling to find an economic place in the USA.

  40. It's a huge risk I know, but the more Roy Moores there are in the Senate and in reasonably competitive House districts, the better things look for the Dems. I'm sure Bannon can figure out how to get crazies to win Repub primaries, but winning the general election will be a much harder pull. Meantime we just have to rely on Susan Collins to save our bacon. Thank God for her. No wonder Repub pols hate women. Too bad more women don't take notice.