As House Democrats prepare to reelect their entire leadership team this week, one thing has come into clear focus 14 days removed from the 2020 election: They got beat — badly.
While much of the focus in the days immediately after November 3 fell on whether Joe Biden had beaten Donald Trump (he had) and whether Democrats would win back the Senate majority (they haven’t — yet), the last few days have been filled with close House races (finally) being projected. And those projections reveal just how poorly House Democrats did.
With just a handful of races still uncalled at this point, Republicans have gained nine seats — having won 12 Democratic-held districts and lost just three of their own. And those numbers don’t even tell the full story, given that two of the three seats Republicans lost were the direct result of a redrawing of North Carolina’s congressional districts that reworked the map in ways that were decidedly unfavorable to the GOP. Subtract those two seats, which neither party spent any money in or seriously contested, and you are down to a single competitive seat that went from red to blue: The suburban Atlanta 7th District.
As David Wasserman, the House editor at the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan campaign tip sheet, noted on Twitter on Monday:
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“It’s been almost two weeks since Election Day, and Democrats still haven’t won a *single one* of the 27 House races in @CookPolitical’s Toss Up column.”
That’s an incredible stat — especially when you consider that the Democratic presidential nominee won 306 electoral votes (and a 4-million-plus popular vote margin) at the top of the ticket. And especially when you factor in the predictions of House Democratic leaders and independent handicappers that Democrats were poised to net double-digit seats and widen their majority.
To date, Democratic leaders have received something of a pass regarding just how badly they missed what was coming on November 3. While some vulnerable Democrats — Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, most notably — have made clear their dissatisfaction with the way the election played out, there hasn’t been any sort of popular revolt against any member of the party leadership up to and including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We did not win every battle in the House, but we did win the war,” Pelosi said in the aftermath of the election, making the point that no matter how the uncalled races fall, Democrats will still hold the House majority come January 2021.
And even as House Democrats have sustained even more losses as races have been called over the last 10 days, Pelosi has grown more strident in her defense of the results. “I take credit for winning a majority and holding the House,” she said recently.
Which seems just fine with her Democratic colleagues! Pelosi, as well as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (South Carolina), are all expected to be reelected to their current leadership jobs this week by the full Democratic caucus.
But reelected or not, there’s simply no spinning what happened to House Democrats on November 3. It was a bad-bordering-on-disastrous election, particularly when you consider that their majority will be quite narrow heading into Biden’s first midterm election, which, if history holds, is a bad one for the incumbent’s party.