Balance of Power: The House Seats Up for Grabs

Updated as of September 22, 2020

House balance of power

What is the balance of power in the House?

There are 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, and one Libertarian in the House of Representatives, with four vacancies.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigned on January 13, 2020. His San Diego-area district, CA-50, favors Republicans, though the DCCC is heavily targeting the seat in support of Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar. The other vacancies are GA-05, following the death of John Lewis; NC-11, due to the resignation of Republican Mark Meadows; and TX-04, due to the resignation of John Ratcliffe.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey is counted as a Republican after announcing in December 2019 he was leaving the Democratic Party.

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What is the outlook for a Republican majority?

Republicans need 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 it intends to target. They include the 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 – are seeking re-election, and most are first-term members who defeated or succeeded Republicans in the 2018 election. Republicans will need to win most of these “Trump Democrat” districts, with a lift from Trump’s re-election campaign, if they are to win back control of the House.

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What are the Democratic Party’s prospects for maintaining control of the House?

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

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

A top takeover opportunity for Democrats is Texas’s 23rd District, a border district stretching from San Antonio to El Paso and held by Republican Will Hurd, who’s retiring. Texas’s 23rd is 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 also are making a play for the suburban Texas districts of retiring Republican Reps. Pete Olson of the 22nd District and Kenny Marchant of the 24th District.

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