Feb 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Open House seats raise midterm competition

<span style="background:#399cea; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">Democrat</span> and <span style="background:#f6643e; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">Republican</span> departures in the <br> U.S. House
Data: OpenSecrets; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The 2022 midterms will be marked by the largest number of House Democrats leaving their seats since at least the early 1990s — adding yet another complicating factor to the party maintaining its control of the chamber.

Why it matters: Double-digit departures from either party during past cycles — 1994, 2006, 2010, and 2018 — portended a shift in power in Washington.

Between the lines: Not all members are retiring; several have announced they're angling for another office.

  • But open seats are inherently more competitive because they typically draw more candidates in each party's primary, as well as more attention and more fundraising.
  • So far, more Democrats than Republicans have announced they're leaving the U.S. House (22 are retiring, compared to 7 Republicans).
  • The parties are similarly represented among the group seeking alternative office (8 Democrats and 7 Republicans).

Don't forget: Democrats had one of their worst midterms in 2010, after Barack Obama was elected president.

  • 16 Democrats had announced their departure before November.
  • One note: The numbers don't include those who left office before the end of their terms. Those who have are usually replaced in a special election or before the general election.
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