Control of the House of Representatives is still up for grabs, but Democrats face a tougher road to a majority

Three days after Election Day, it’s still possible that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus could surprise the world by retaining control of the House of Representatives when the 118th Congress convenes on Jan. 3. It is also possible that Republicans will win the 218 votes needed to take office next year.

Of the 435 seats in the lower house, the GOP has already claimed 211 of them, while Democrats have already been declared winners in 195 contests.

And of the 29 seats that remain undecided, the GOP only needs to win seven more to win an outright majority.

Most US election forecasters have predicted that Republicans will indeed take control of the House, but getting there won’t be so easy.

Of the undecided districts that remain, about 12 of them are considered flips, meaning forecasters have given both parties an equal chance of winning.

However, so far, Democrats are currently ahead in eight of those contests. They will need to go all-in to defy expectations and keep Ms. Pelosi in charge. And while Republicans are far more likely to pull off an overall victory in the end, it may be smaller than the five-seat margin Democrats have faced since the 11th Congress opened in 2021.

That’s bad news for the man who has led the House GOP for the past two sessions, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

While his Democratic counterpart, Ms. Pelosi, is famous for keeping her constituents in line when it comes to voting on big-ticket items like President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill or the of inflation, Mr. McCarthy has never struggled with complex legislation. through the Parliament with a minimum number of votes.

Moreover, the House Republican Conference he could end up speaking at will be full of Trump extremists who have built their careers on disparaging GOP leaders who work with Democrats. Anything, even bills to pass to fund the government or to prevent the US from defaulting on the national debt and blowing up the world economy.

A one-seat majority would be even more of a nightmare for the GOP leader, as it would put every one of his members where West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has spent the past two years: Empowered to block any bill he dislikes for any reason.

Already, members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus have made it clear to Mr. McCarthy that they plan to squeeze expenses from him before backing his bid to become speaker if the GOP wins a majority.

But even if they do, it won’t be known for some time.

Most of the seats up for grabs are in California, which for years has conducted elections primarily by mail.

It could take days – or weeks – to determine whether Mr McCarthy’s conference will have the 218 members it needs to control the agenda for the next two years.

But even if it does, he might end up regretting it.

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