Aug 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

High water mark for House insurgents

Data: Sabato's Crystal Ball; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

It's a banner year for insurgent House candidates: 2022 is posting the second-highest number of primary losses for House members since 1948.

Why it matters: Rising populism is weakening the shield of incumbency.

Driving the news: Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) both lost their primaries on Tuesday.

  • As is often the case in redistricting years, the two Democrats were the victims of shifting district lines that pitted Maloney against a colleague and forced Jones to abandon his district.

By the numbers: To date, in this cycle, 14 House incumbents have failed to secure their party’s nomination.

  • 2020 saw the most successful primary challenges in a non-redistricting year since 1974, suggesting this is part of a trend, not a one-off.

The big picture: The only year since the 1940s that saw more House primary losses than 2022 was 1992, when 19 incumbents lost renomination, according to data from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

  • Many factors contributed to that 1992 record: A presidential election that swept Bill Clinton to power. Redistricting. The House Bank scandal. And lingering political impacts of recession.
Data: Axios research; Table: Simran Parwani/Axios

Between the lines: Aside from redistricting, the bulk of this year's losses can be attributed to two major clashes:

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