Balance of Power: The House Seats Up for Grabs

Updated as of November 6, 2020

What is the new balance of power in the House?

House Democrats are still expected to hold their majority while losing a handful of seats to Republican challengers.

The Associated Press hasn’t yet called every House race, but projections at this time show Democrats are most likely to keep control. At least six incumbent Democrats have lost re-election bids, despite earlier projections that they could gain up to 15 seats.

Democrats took the chamber after they netted 41 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, their largest single-year pickup since the post-Watergate midterms of 1974. But some of those new Democrats were among the party’s losers Tuesday.

[The election is only the beginning. For tips on how to navigate the transition period, see our Post-Election Guide to Navigating Washington.]

What was the outlook prior to the election?

Republicans needed to get to 218 seats to win back the majority they lost in 2018. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, in early 2019 identified dozens of Democratic-held districts to target. They included 30 Democrats who were elected or re-elected in 2018 in districts that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. All but one – Dave Loebsack of Iowa – sought re-election. Most were first-term members who defeated or succeeded Republicans in the 2018 election. Republicans won some of these “Trump Democrat” districts but needed to unseat most to win back control of the House.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, identified more than 40 “Frontline Democrats” it expected to have very competitive re-election campaigns. Many of these members represented suburban districts that have diversified their populations in recent years. In most of these districts, Democrats were running for re-election for the first time. The Frontline Democrats amassed large campaign funds.

[For more race for 2020 resources, explore our election page here.]

Democrats also identified more than three dozen Republican-held districts they intended to target, including seven in Texas.

A top takeover opportunity for Democrats was Texas’ 23rd District, a border district stretching from San Antonio to El Paso and held by Republican Will Hurd, who’s retiring. Texas’ 23rd was one of just three districts that, along with New York’s 24th District and Pennsylvania’s 1st District, voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for a House Republican in 2018. Democrats fell short, however, and Republican Tony Gonzales claimed victory after a tight race.

Democrats also made a play for the suburban Texas districts of retiring Republican Reps. Pete Olson of the 22nd District and Kenny Marchant of the 24th District. They lost the 22nd District, but the 24th is currently too close to call, with Republican Beth Van Duyne leading.

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