House Democrats who will not be running for reelection this year have reached the highest number in the last 30 years. The situation clearly reflects discontent with the standoff on Capitol Hill, the bad relationship between the parties, and the problems facing Democrats as they battle to maintain their slight majority.
Rep. Kathleen Rice announced her decision not to compete for reelection last week, making her the 30th Democrat in the House to do so. This is the most for the party since 1992 when 41 House Democrats announced their retirement just as their presidential nominee, Bill Clinton, was being elected to the White House.
According to numbers compiled by the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, this is only the third time since 1978 that either party has witnessed at least 30 retirements in a single election cycle. The last time this happened was four years ago, during the 2018 midterm elections when 34 House Republicans walked out. It was a foreshadowing of things to come. In a Democratic wave widely perceived as a referendum on President Trump, the GOP lost 41 seats and the House majority.
The Democrats are in for a tough year. With Biden’s low approval ratings, a delayed policy agenda in Congress, nationwide redistricting, and the historical trend of existing presidents’ parties losing seats in midterm elections, the Republicans’ chances of reclaiming the House are growing, per report.
To make matters worse for Democrats, the number of retirement announcements is expected to rise in the coming weeks as members approach their states’ candidate filing deadlines, which are often in the spring. Only 13 incumbent House Republicans are not seeking reelection, while two others have quit in recent months to accept employment in the private sector, in contrast to Democrats.
Despite the difficulties, Democratic leaders are putting on their best front, at least in public, believing that their legislative record under Biden will win votes in November.
To much dismay of Republicans, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is running for reelection. The Republicans are hoping for a ‘Red Wave’ of Republican governors to take over in 2022.