House Democrats suffered defeat in the 2022 midterm elections, and, in January, after two years of having unified control in the House and Senate, the party will pass control of the lower chamber back to Republicans.
With the party’s loss, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has served in Congress since 1987, will be forced to hand over the speaker’s gavel. Current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won the Republicans’ designation for House speaker on Tuesday.
Now, one day after it was projected that the GOP would take control of the House when the 118th Congress convenes next year, Americans are pondering how Democrats lost control after months of preparation and preaching about issues they believed fared best with voters.
While multiple factors contributed to the unsuccessful attempt by Democrats to retain control in the House and reach the 218 seats required for a majority, insiders from across the political spectrum conclude that messaging and economic factors contributed to the party’s loss.
Jessica Tarlov, a Democratic strategist who serves as the head of research for Bustle, suggested that Democrats lost the House “by a historically small margin” because of “tough economic conditions and the general pattern of history.”
“There was, unexpectedly, opportunity for Democrats to hold the House if there was a more cohesive economic message and a stronger position on crime and policing, which would’ve helped hold onto congressional seats in New York,” added Tarlov, who currently serves as a Fox News contributor. “But overall, it was a tremendous performance that will be cited for decades to come.”
In the wake of the Democrats’ failure to maintain control of the House, Chris Taylor, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the party “defied history” in the elections.
“House Democrats defied history on a record of creating jobs, keeping families safe, investing in America, defending women’s freedom and the integrity of our democracy,” Taylor said. “Voters rejected MAGA extremism and now House Republicans are in a state of disarray. With a razor-thin majority, Kevin McCarthy is being forced to kneel to extremism in a GOP conference that wants to ban abortion, challenge elections, hawk conspiracy theories that make us all less safe and sow even more hate and division in America.”
Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Fox that voters held House Democrats “accountable” in the midterms because the party “passed an agenda that caused higher prices, rising crime and an open southern border.”
In the House, Republicans flipped numerous seats that were held by Democrats.
Notable victories include Republican Jen Kiggans’ defeat of Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the House Jan. 6 committee, to represent Virginia’s 2nd District, as well as Lori Chavez-DeRemer’s win over her Democratic challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, to represent Oregon’s 5th District.
In New York, a state that largely votes for Democrats and mostly favors left-leaning policies, Republicans flipped four House seats.
In remarks offered to Fox, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the party’s win was a result of the GOP’s “message of prosperity, security and opportunity.”
“Families from all backgrounds and all walks of life voted Republican in this election because they know that freedom matters,” McDaniel said. “The future is bright. This Republican Congress will fight to lower costs, support our police, secure our border and put a check on Joe Biden’s disastrous agenda. After years of Democrat failure, Republicans will get our country back on track.”
Erin Perrine, vice president of Tag Strategies, told Fox News Digital the GOP came out on top in House elections because of a “clear contrast message against Democrats for being weak on crime and tanking the economy, solutions to those problems, and a ground game to get voters out.”
“When Republicans ran with common sense moderate solutions to contrast Democrat chaos, they won big in states like New York and California, giving Republicans the majority,” said Perrine, who once served as the national press secretary for McCarthy.
Similarly, Kevin Seifert, who served as chief of staff to former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, insisted that Democrats failed to capture a majority in the House because Republicans “recruited dynamic candidates in competitive races” that “successfully told voters who they were and what they stood for, and intelligently explained the economic problems caused by the Democrats’ tax-and-spend policies.”
“Joe Biden’s failure to curb inflation, his big-government agenda and his caving to the progressive left were anchors that weighed down Democrats in many competitive districts and Republicans were able to explain this to both their base and to persuadable voters,” Seifert said. “It wasn’t a ‘red wave,’ as many hoped for, but Republicans now hold the gavels in the House, which means they can stop more bad economic policies from getting passed and exercise proper oversight over the Biden administration. Winning the House majority is a big deal and it should not be minimized.”
Like Seifert, Dan Conston, who serves as president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, said the Democrats’ loss came after Republicans put up good candidates in tough races.
“Republicans won the majority first because of the tireless work Kevin McCarthy put in to recruiting the stars we needed to win tough races and raising the money to carry them to victory,” said Conston. “Our decision to engage in primaries to help standout candidates win and efforts to press the map deep in Democratic territory both proved to be critical in winning the seats that decided the majority.”
Despite the GOP’s slim victory in the House, some Republican strategists are stressing the need for conversations about how the party could have done better in widening its leadership margin.
“As the dust settles on the midterm, it’s clear that Republicans’ over-performance in states like Florida and New York was critical to winning back the House. That’s encouraging, but we should not be patting ourselves on the back when we could have done much better,” said Giancarlo Sopo, founder of Visto Media and head of Hispanic advertising for former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign. “We need some candid conversations about why we fell short.”
The new Congress, which features a Democrat-controlled Senate, will convene on Jan. 3.