House Republicans are sprinting for the exits ahead of 2018 midterms

On Wednesday, California Rep. Darrell Issa announced his retirement from Congres, the latest senior Republican to wal...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 4:33 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 4:33 PM

On Wednesday, California Rep. Darrell Issa announced his retirement from Congres, the latest senior Republican to walk away from Washington amid mounting fears that a Democratic wave -- fueled by President Donald Trump's terrible approval ratings -- is headed toward Washington this fall.

Issa's retirement comes hot on the heels of his California colleague Ed Royce's decision to call it quits earlier this week. Both Issa and Royce represent districts that Hillary Clinton carried over Donald Trump in 2016. Of those 23 districts nationwide, four Republicans who hold them are retiring while a fifth -- Arizona's Martha McSally -- is expected to run for Senate.

Royce, who sits atop the House Foreign Relations Committee, is the 9th(!) committee chairman to announce he or she will be leaving the House in 2018.

Issa and Royce are the 31st and 32nd Republicans in the House to announce he won't be running again in 2018; Democrats have just 15 open seats, by contrast.

There are, as always, mitigating circumstances. California could be a political killing field for Republicans in 2018 given that the state's primary system may well mean that two Democrats -- and no Republicans -- are at the top of the ticket fighting to be the next governor.

"There is going to be a GOP congressional wipeout in California in 2018," predicted Steve Schmidt, a California Republican who managed John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. "Turnout will be driven by the governor's race which will be between two Democrats. This further depresses GOP turnout."

And, Royce, like several other committee chairmen calling it quits, is term-limited out of his chairmanship because of internal House GOP rules. Some retiring members, like Diane Black of Tennessee, are running for higher office. (Black is running for governor, a race where she is considered one of the early favorites.)

But if you take a step back from any individual retirement and look at the big picture, here's what you are left with: Veteran Republicans -- especially those in potentially competitive seats -- are opting to head for the exits rather than remain in a Congress where, if the GOP retains control this November, they would be positioned to continue to wield considerable influence.

Issa and Royce joins Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Dave Reichert of Washington as Republican House members abandoning House seats Clinton won in 2016. . There's also a handful of other seats -- Charlie Dent's in Pennsylvania, Dave Trott's in Michigan, Frank LoBiondo's in New Jersey -- where Trump won but the underlying political realities of the districts suggest Democrats will make a major play to win them this fall.

In each of those cases, the retiring members are simply walking away from Congress. They aren't running for another higher office. They aren't leaving to enter the Trump administration. They don't have cushy, high-paying jobs lined up. They are just leaving.

Why? Some of it has to do with the fact that the so-called governing wing of the Republican Party -- of which most of the names above are affiliated with -- is losing steam in the nation's Capitol. Trump's takeover of the GOP during the 2016 campaign has pushed the governing end of the Grand Old Party to the fringes. Confrontation, not compromise, is now the prized goal of congressional Republicans.

Which means if that you came to Washington to get things done -- which lots of Republicans did -- you aren't having any fun at this point. And, given Trump's penchant for firing on his own troops, there's no telling if and when a Republican member of the House could be on the wrong end of a tweet from the President of the United States.

Another major factor in these retirement decisions is the increasingly dire prognosis for Republicans this November.

Trump's approval ratings have been mired in the high 30s -- at best -- for the last few months; a Gallup weekly tracking poll released Monday showed Trump's approval at 37% and his disapproval at 58%.

The average seat loss for the president's party in midterm elections since 1962 when the president's approval rating is under 50%? Try 40 seats. (Democrats need only a 24-seat gain to reclaim the majority.)

There's plenty more history here -- and none of it is good for Republicans. In the last century, the average seat loss for a president's party in his first midterm election is 23 seats. There have only been three midterm elections in the past 100 years -- 1934, 1998 and 2002 -- in which the president's party has not lost seats in a midterm.

While the history is daunting, the on-the-ground results over the past year might be even scarier for Republicans. In a series of special House elections in 2017, Democratic candidates consistently overperformed Clinton's showing in these districts. At the state legislative level, Democrats kept winning state legislative seats previously held by Republicans.

Then, in the last two months of the year, Democrats won two high-profile races: the Virginia governor's race and the special election in Alabama to replace now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In each of those races, Democratic base turnout soared while the Republican base was less enthused to turn out.

Combine those results, the electoral history of first term, midterm elections, Trump's dismal approval numbers and the fact that not much gets done in Washington these days, and you have a hugely toxic mix for Republicans.

The twin retirements of Issa and Royce are an acknowledgment that their chances of winning in November were deteriorating -- and they'd rather go out on their own terms. They aren't the first vulnerable Republicans to pack up their things in the face of the wave building out in the ocean right now. And they certainly won't be the last.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1084488

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1425562217
Lake705171220
Allen64347862
Hamilton49481481
St. Joseph48135639
Elkhart39011536
Vanderburgh33874494
Tippecanoe29863271
Johnson26876463
Hendricks25548379
Porter24683380
Madison20440444
Clark19785275
Vigo18609308
LaPorte16638260
Monroe16237217
Delaware16230286
Howard16181310
Kosciusko13763162
Hancock12644184
Bartholomew12544188
Warrick11889189
Wayne11794264
Floyd11792225
Grant11484233
Morgan10134188
Boone9576120
Noble8921121
Henry8917163
Marshall8792146
Dearborn875798
Dubois8673138
Shelby7958127
Cass7907126
Lawrence7861182
DeKalb7416106
Jackson738093
Huntington7280107
Gibson6922118
Montgomery6830122
Harrison680696
Knox6779113
Steuben641185
Miami6384106
Whitley631160
Putnam626582
Clinton614176
Wabash5958108
Jasper591991
Jefferson5617102
Ripley540892
Adams527881
Daviess4964116
Scott475978
Wells462998
White459967
Greene458399
Clay452162
Decatur4491109
Jennings434666
Fayette429094
LaGrange413890
Posey398344
Washington380654
Randolph3770107
Fountain364962
Spencer353446
Fulton352270
Starke343672
Sullivan342454
Owen341676
Orange320270
Jay315450
Rush293332
Carroll287037
Franklin283544
Perry281453
Vermillion277557
Parke244930
Tipton244664
Pike241744
Blackford213944
Pulaski203158
Newton176552
Brown169850
Crawford167129
Benton160517
Martin149219
Switzerland143712
Warren131416
Union115416
Ohio90513
Unassigned0581

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1669274

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1754171826
Cuyahoga1623782636
Hamilton1117311528
Montgomery790591387
Summit694911199
Lucas613991017
Butler55535803
Stark520121170
Lorain40514639
Warren35195412
Mahoning34686769
Lake31044493
Clermont30493362
Delaware26486182
Trumbull26232611
Licking26023335
Medina25011351
Fairfield24009287
Greene23929369
Clark21501387
Portage20468280
Richland20418336
Wood19461246
Allen18361320
Miami16931348
Muskingum16311206
Columbiana16300331
Wayne15292304
Tuscarawas13983357
Marion12948194
Erie12287198
Scioto12134182
Ashtabula12096225
Pickaway11975151
Ross11387223
Hancock11104173
Geauga10522174
Lawrence10422171
Belmont10188231
Huron9519155
Jefferson9408225
Union930575
Sandusky8917166
Seneca8598156
Knox8570169
Washington8558156
Athens824196
Darke8212179
Ashland7752147
Auglaize7676115
Shelby7286132
Defiance7162114
Brown7000115
Crawford6995150
Fulton6939111
Logan6793108
Mercer677997
Guernsey677283
Highland6578117
Madison638589
Clinton6357106
Williams622198
Preble6147139
Putnam6033120
Jackson567996
Champaign562786
Perry555779
Coshocton5499103
Ottawa548399
Morrow502464
Fayette480370
Hardin473399
Gallia459678
Pike456776
Van Wert448491
Adams4481109
Henry422076
Hocking396893
Holmes3913137
Wyandot365273
Carroll347978
Paulding317049
Meigs300757
Monroe230160
Noble216147
Morgan208338
Harrison203552
Vinton181637
Unassigned05
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