Why the GOP’s Majority Won’t Be Safe Even After the Election Returns Are Complete
As of Tuesday morning, Republicans are one seat away from their House majority. Of the 14 remaining races yet to be decided, Republicans are expected to win at least four and as many as seven.
A three-to-six-seat majority would be a dangerous outcome for Republicans. That’s because there are bound to be a number of deaths, unexpected retirements, and resignations. The resulting special elections may see a flip of control from Republicans to Democrats.
There’s typically a decent amount of turnover in the House during a session of Congress. Whether it’s members resigning, leaving for different jobs, or dying, the natural ebbs and flows of House membership could have an outsize effect this Congress if the House majority ends up being just a few seats strong. And special elections to replace those members could narrow or flip control until the 2024 elections.
In the current Congress, five members died while in office and another died before being sworn in, according to the House Press Gallery’s casualty list. One was indicted and resigned afterward. Five other members resigned to take different jobs. Three Democrats left to work in the Biden administration. Another was appointed lieutenant governor of New York.
In fact, control of the House has changed hands after an election before.
The 72nd Congress would have started with 218 Republicans, 216 Democrats, and one member of the Farmer-Labor party, but 14 elected members died before the Congress began. Democrats took control by winning special elections and stayed in the majority through the end of the session.
Perhaps most importantly, the narrow GOP majority is very bad news for current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. While McCarthy probably has the votes to win the GOP caucus vote for speaker of the House, where he only needs to win a majority of Republicans, when the entire House votes in January, that razor-thin majority might mean McCarthy would have problems getting the necessary votes to advance.
One solution being offered appears to be for McCarthy to embrace Trump even tighter.
Already, the hardline House Freedom Caucus has been maneuvering to block McCarthy’s speakership before the internal vote on leadership on Tuesday, and some allies of Donald Trump have urged him to bearhug the former president tighter to win enough support.
“If Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker, he must be much more declarative that he supports President Trump,” Jason Miller, who worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, said on Friday on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
Although McCarthy is expected to win through and survive until the election of the speaker in January, he’s going to have to get busy and mend some fences if he is expected to be elected speaker.