Retirements for Congressional Democrats Hit 30-Year High Ahead of US Midterm Election
23:47 GMT 20.02.2022 (Updated: 14:00 GMT 19.12.2022)
© DREW ANGERERA view of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday evening, January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.
© DREW ANGERER
New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice’s announcement that she won’t seek reelection marks the 30th House Democrat to call it quits ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. That number is a 30-year high, and with more announcements to step away expected, Congressional Democrats are bracing for a tough election cycle.
The last time Congressional Democrats saw an exodus this large was 1992, when 41 House Democrats retired, and it marks the third time since 1978 that either party has seen at least 30 members retire in a single election cycle.
The spike in Democratic retirements has analysts pointing to several factors. Redistricting has altered congressional maps and made certain seats more vulnerable. US President Joe Biden’s poor approval ratings, 41.8% according to FiveThirtyEight, coupled with the trend of a president’s party losing seats at midterms, may be sending Democratic politicians into retirement.
“The 2022 elections are coming up quick, and Democrats need to decide now whether they want to retire or stick around and get fired,” said Calvin Moore, a spokesman for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a deep-pocketing lobbying group that works to get Republicans elected to the US Congress.
The general toxicity on Capitol Hill has also been cited by some politicians as a driving factor. Not all of the Congressional Democrats deciding not to run for reelection are doing so to get out of politics, however, as eight of the 30 will run for another political office.
A mass of retirements from one party has usually preceded that party suffering heavy losses. In 2018, 34 House Republicans retired and the party lost 41 seats and the majority in the House.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, does not have rosy forecasts for Democrats. “There are a lot of signs that this is not going to be a good year for Democrats,” he said.
He elaborated that the mass of retirements could make losses for the party even more severe. “Incumbency is not as electorally valuable as it used to be, but a party still would rather have an incumbent running, generally speaking, than not.” He added, “Open seats are still easier for the opposition party to flip than incumbent-held seats.”
The precarious position Democrats find themselves in has Republicans feeling like they’re mere months away from retaking a majority in the House.
Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, crowed: “Thirty House Democrats have called it quits because they know their majority is doomed.”