Republicans won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night after a Republican won re-election to a California seat that had propelled the GOP to the top, the Associated Press forecast.
Though it wasn’t as decisive a win as GOP leaders had hoped, Republican candidates flipped key seats in New York, Virginia, Oregon and Arizona — while benefiting from the once-a-decade reallocation process that allowed them to win in Florida, particularly to draw favorable lines – and will control the Chamber’s agenda in January.
A win by incumbent Mike Garcia over Democratic challenger Christy Smith in California secured the 218 seats Republicans needed to form a majority. The Republicans in the US House of Representatives already elected their leadership for the 118th Congress on Tuesday, although the party had not yet secured the seats needed for a majority.
The Republican majority is likely to be narrow as Democrats lead most of the undeclared races.
Democrats had a stronger election on Nov. 8 than pundits had widely expected. They were forecast to win 210 seats. In seven races, the AP had not made a call as of Wednesday night.
If the Republican majority lands in single digits, the margin would be because they did positively on redistribution of districts and the Democrats lacked similar power, said Dave Wasserman, a senior editor for U.S. house races at The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
“If Republicans end up with a single-digit majority and less than 222 seats, then that will be entirely due to the redistribution of the constituency,” Wasserman said in a post-election news conference last week.
Florida has been the most outspoken partisan this cycle, but new lines drawn in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio also helped the party win seats, Wasserman said.
While Democratic Gerrymanders held out in Nevada, New Mexico and Illinois, state legislation in larger blue states — California and New York — cost Democrats “probably a dozen seats that they could have drawn for themselves.”
Even with a larger majority, the Republican agenda in the House of Representatives would have been difficult to implement. President Joe Biden has vowed in recent days to veto laws that run counter to his accomplishments, and Democrats will retain control of the US Senate.
The Republicans’ route to victory was mostly via New York, where they won all five races in the state that The Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups.
Other key places Republicans turned were:
- Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, a seat in the Norfolk region where Senator Jen A. Kiggans defeated two-year incumbent Elaine Luria.
- Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, where incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran faced a difficult road after the district was redrawn in favor of Republicans. Former Navy SEAL Eli Crane defeated O’Halleran.
- Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, in which Senator Zach Nunn defeated incumbent Cindy Axne by less than 1 percentage point.
- Oregon’s 5th congressional district, where moderate longtime US Rep. Kurt Schrader lost his Democratic primary
Republicans also benefited from new congressional maps, particularly in Florida, which went from a 16-11 Republican advantage to a 20-8 lead, the Florida Phoenix reported.
But outside of New York, the Democrats won most of the races counted as toss-ups.
Major contests won by the Democrats included:
- Oregon’s 4th congressional district, a seat retired Peter DeFazio held for 36 years. State Labor and Industry Commissioner Val Hoyle will replace him after defeating Republican Alex Skarlatos.
- Nevada’s 1st congressional district in the Las Vegas area, where incumbent Dina Titus defeated challenger Mark Robertson.
- New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district, where Gabriel Vasquez angered incumbent Republican US Rep. Yvette Herrell.
Democrats also won seats in newly created districts in Colorado and Oregon.