Most observers thought that the November 3 election for the House of Representatives would serve up a net gain for Democrats of up to 10 -15 seats. Almost no one thought the Republicans would be competitive this year. Of the 435 seats in the lower chamber, Democrats held a 232 – 197 advantage over the GOP, with five vacancies and one seat held by the Libertarian Party.
However, once again 2020 has served up some electoral surprises. With several House races still undecided, Republicans have already won a net gain of five seats. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, the GOP thus far has doubled its number of congresswomen from 13 to 26.
And according to the Susan B. Anthony List, those women are all pro-life. “The surge of victorious pro-life women candidates in the U.S. House is a stunning blow to (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and her pro-abortion agenda,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser on November 4. “So far, we have more than doubled the number of pro-life women in the House, with more races to be called. Seven pro-life women candidates flipped pro-abortion Democrat-held seats.”
So, what happened?
According to Politico, President Donald Trump did better than he was supposed to in suburban districts, which benefitted other Republican candidates across the board. But those candidates also profited from “ticket-splitters,” i.e., people who voted for Vice President Joe Biden for president but also for Republicans down ballot.
In some areas, like Florida and Texas, Republican House candidates fared better than expected with Latinos, who may have responded negatively to the Democrats’ flirtation with socialism throughout the primaries and voted in larger numbers for Trump this year than in 2016.
Democrats were also victims of this year’s horrendous job done by pollsters, who convinced the party and many of its candidates that they were comfortably ahead when they were, in fact, vulnerable. In South Carolina, for example, first-term incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham led in one poll by 13 points. He lost by one percentage point to state GOP Representative Nancy Mace.
Jim Geraghty of National Review estimates that Republicans could end up with 210 seats in the House in 2021 after all the undecided races are determined. If so, Republicans can look ahead to the mid-term elections in 2022 as one where they could legitimately flip the House to GOP control, especially if Joe Biden is in the White House. Historically, the party of the incumbent president rarely does well in the mid-terms, 2018 being the most recent example, where Democrats picked up a net of 40 seats.
For now, though, the addition of all the new pro-life congresswomen is reason to cheer.
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