“It is absolutely essential for our democracy that we win. I fear for our democracy if the Republicans were ever to get the gavel,” Pelosi told Time magazine. “We can’t let that happen.”
Though Democrats narrowly held onto the House during the 2020 election, they are down to a razor-thin five seat majority. The slim control of the House has already caused troubles for party leadership, and splits between centrists and progressives in the party have been on full display during the 117th Congress.
Since the middle of the 20th century, with few exceptions, the out-of-White House party has picked up seats in the House during midterms. Amid rising inflation and gas prices, a crime wave across the country, and supply chain issues that have left some supermarket shelves bare, Republicans are especially hopeful about their prospects.
In an interview with Fox News, GOP Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) articulated the GOP optimism, saying that there has “never been a better time to run on a conservative agenda.”
“Both domestically and abroad, Americans are not happy with the direction of the country,” Scalise added. “We’re proposing a very different and better agenda.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has also indicated that he is optimistic about a GOP sweep.
“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority,” McCarthy said in an interview.
Republicans have pointed to dwindling approval ratings to bolster their claim.
According to Rasmussen Reports’ daily presidential tracking poll, Biden’s approval numbers have dwindled since he took office, and have generally remained lower than President Donald Trump’s approval rating in the same period of his term.
But Pelosi countered that she did not think Democrats will lose the House.
“I don’t have any intention of the Democrats losing the Congress in November,” Pelosi said.
She referenced doomsday predictions from some Democrat-aligned analysts who said that the once-per-decade redistricting from the census would solidify GOP prospects.
Ultimately, however, several major states like New York and Illinois have put forward redistricting plans that are even more favorable to Democrats than before. In battleground states like North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a redistricting plan that would solidify Democrats’ prospects in the state.
“Everybody said redistricting was going to be horrible for the Democrats. Remember that? Not so. Not so. If anything, we’ll pick up seats rather than lose 10 to 15, which conventional wisdom said that we would. There’s nothing conventional anymore, and it certainly ain’t wisdom,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi portrayed a GOP victory as an existential threat to the nation over repeated allegations about the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, which Democrats have painted as a full-fledged “insurrection” against the United States government, and some Democrats have indicated that this will be a key point in running against Republicans.
On the other hand, House Democrats have seen an almost unprecedented mass exodus of retirees ahead of the midterms, including prominent figures like Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the only congressional Democrat from Kentucky. In total, over 30 Democrats have announced their retirement, throwing many districts into play as Democrats lose the incumbent advantage.
Republicans have pointed to the retirements as a sign that Democrats are far from confident about their prospects in November, despite Democrats’ protestations to the contrary.
The National Republican Congressional Committee—a GOP funding and campaigning organization—considers 70 seats currently held by Democrats as “vulnerable.”
On the other hand, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has warned Republicans against becoming “overconfident.”
“What we have to do is not get overconfident, but be confident, go talk to the American people [about] how we’ll make things better if in fact we are given the majority in the House and the majority in the United States Senate,” Jordan said.