Rep. DeFazio is the 19th Democrat not running for reelection next year

Earlier today Rep. DeFazio announced that he wouldn’t be running for reelection next year:

CNN points out he’s part of a much larger trend of House Democrats who are either retiring or running for another office:

DeFazio is at least the 19th Democrat to announce plans to leave the House this cycle, compared to 11 Republicans in the chamber. Democrats hold a slim majority in the chamber, and face an uphill battle in trying to maintain their control of the House during next year’s midterm elections.

Oregon’s Fourth District, which includes the college town of Eugene, has been a political battleground in recent years. Joe Biden won it by about four percentage points last year, but it split almost equally between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. While the district became more favorable to Democrats in redistricting, in a challenging political environment and without its longtime incumbent it’s possible it could be competitive in 2022.

Monday, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote about the trend when Rep. Tom Suozzi announced he was leaving his seat to run for Governor of New York. As Cillizza sees it, this trend creates a “negative cycle” that could inspire even more Democrats to leave the sinking ship:

Of the 18 Democratic open seats, fully one third are in districts where former President Donald Trump won or lost narrowly (5 points or less) in the 2020 election…

…there’s no one reason why all of these Democrats are suddenly retiring. But, you can be absolutely sure that the sum total of their retirements has an impact on their colleagues — and how they think about their own futures. Already two committee chairs (Bernice Johnson and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth) have made clear their plans to retire. That doesn’t usually happen if there is a belief within the caucus that they will continue to hold the majority…

The problem for Democrats is all of this feeds on itself in a negative cycle. Members retire because they think the political landscape looks bleak, which makes the political landscape bleak(er), which leads more members to retire, which makes the political environment — well, you get it.

Bleak is not really the word you want to sum up your party’s morale but in this case it seems pretty accurate. Even before Biden’s polling numbers went into the dumpster, redistricting was looking like a game changer in 2022. Now, with all of these retirements on top of redistricting and Biden’s doldrums, it’s hard to see any way Democrats could hold the House.

I’ve seen some people suggesting on Twitter today that the Supreme Court’s decision on the fate of Roe, which could in theory come any time but will probably come next June, could be just the game changer Democrats need in 2022. I guess that’s possible but even an outright overturning of Roe won’t mean much of anything in blue states like New York and California. It might create some pushback in red states where abortion could actually be restricted but will that be enough to overcome ongoing inflation and other challenges Democrats are facing?

Anyone who claims to know for certain how things will look ten months from now is probably just guessing, but you can see the way things are trending right now and those trends do not look good for Democrats.

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