Balance of Power: Republican Majority in the House

Last Updated Dec. 14, 2023

What is the balance of power in the House?

House Republicans have 221 seats and Democrats have 213. The GOP took control of the House with a slim majority in the 2022 midterm elections. However, the ouster of George Santos (R) left the NY-03 seat up for grabs in an upcoming special election.

[Virtual Event: Election Season 2024. BGOV’s resident election expert, Greg Giroux, leads a discussion on what he’s watching, including how re-redistricting and candidate recruitment is affecting the battle for the House.]

What are the upcoming transitions that could affect the balance of power in the House?

There are currently 15 known representatives who are running for other office:

AZ-03: Ruben Gallego (D) is running for a Senate seat
CA-12: Barbara Lee (D) is running for a Senate seat
CA-30: Adam Schiff (D) is running for a Senate seat
CA-47: Katie Porter (D) is running for a Senate seat
DE-AL: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D) is running for a Senate seat
IN-03: Jim Banks (R) is running for a Senate seat
MD-06: David Trone (D) is running for a Senate seat
MN-03: Dean Phillips (D) is running for president
MI-07: Elissa Slotkin (D) is running for a Senate seat
NC-08: Dan Bishop (R) is running for state attorney general
NC-14: Jeff Jackson (D) is running for state attorney general
NJ-03: Andy Kim (D) is running for a Senate seat
TX-32: Colin Allred (D) is running for a Senate seat
VA-07: Abigail Spanberger (D) is running for governor in 2025
WV-02: Alex Mooney (R) is running for a Senate seat

There are also 14 representatives who announced their retirement in 2024:

AZ-08: Debbie Lesko (R)
CA-16: Anna Eshoo (D)
CA-29: Tony Cárdenas (D)
CA-31: Grace Napolitano (D)
CO-04: Ken Buck (R)
IN-05: Victoria Spartz (R)
MD-03: John Sarbanes (D)
MI-08: Dan Kildee (D)
OH-02: Brad Wenstrup (R)
OR-03: Earl Blumenauer (D)
TX-12: Kay Granger (R)
TX-26: Michael Burgess (R)
VA-10: Jennifer Wexton (D)
WA-06: Derek Kilmer (D)

Three representatives announced their resignations, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) in California, Brian Higgins (D) in New York, and Bill Johnson (R) in Ohio. Republicans’ margin will depend on the special elections for the seats.

How many House seats were up for election in 2022? 

All 435 House seats were up for election in the 2022 midterm race. The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rated 36 races as toss-ups. A shift in five seats was the determining factor as to whether the chamber would go to Republicans.

What was the outlook for the 2022 midterm elections?

Midterm elections historically hurt the president’s party. In 18 of the last 20 elections the president’s party lost ground in the House.

Redistricting played a significant role in the 2022 House elections. New lines altered the competitiveness in numerous districts, and some incumbents ran for re-election in the new territory.

After the 2020 Census, state legislatures or commissions drew congressional district lines. Both parties filed lawsuits to challenge these new maps. Republicans controlled line-drawing in far more districts than Democrats and, as a result, gained more seats in the House from redistricting alone.

Midterms are generally viewed as a referendum on the president. With low approval ratings and high inflation, the Biden administration’s politics, policies, and polling shaped the national atmosphere. The results of the 2022 midterms held true to form, with the opposing party gaining House majority.

What were the races to watch in the 2022 House elections?

Lean Democratic
12 Dem – 2 Rep – 0 Ind
Democrat Toss Up
23 Dem – 0 Rep – 0 Ind
Republican Toss Up
0 Dem – 10 Rep – 0 Ind
Lean Republican
4 Dem – 8 Rep – 0 Ind
AK-AL Peltola CA-03 Open AZ-01 Schweikert AZ-02 O’Halleran
CA-47 Porter CA-49 Levin  CA-22 Valadao AZ-06 Open
IL-13 Open CT-05 Hayes CA-27 Garcia CA-41 Calvert
KS-03 Davids IL-17 Open CO-08 New Seat CA-45 Steel
MI-03 Open IN-01 Mrvan NC-13 Open FL-27 Salazar
MI-08 Kildee ME-02 Golden NE-02 Bacon  IA-01 Miller-Meeks
NH-02 Kuster MI-07 Slotkin NM-02 Herrell IA-02 Hinson
NV-04 Horsford MN-02 Craig NY-22 Open IA-03 Axne
NY-03 Open NH-01 Pappas OH-01 Chabot  MT-01 New Seat
NY-04 Open NV-01 Titus TX-34 Merged Seat NJ-07 Malinowski
NY-18 Ryan NV-03 Lee NY-01 Open
OH-09 Kaptur NY-17 Maloney WA-03 Open
OR-04 Open NY-19 Open
TX-28 Cuellar OH-13 Open
OR-05 Open
OR-06 New Seat
PA-07 Wild
PA-08 Cartwright
PA-17 Open
RI-02 Open 
VA-02 Luria
VA-07 Spanberger
WA-09 Schrier
*Italicized name denotes freshman member
Source: Cook Political Report with Amy Walter

What were the major factors impacting the 2022 midterm House races?

1. Fundraising in the final months

In the final months before Election Day, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised about $113.2 million, in contrast to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) $110.7 million. In past races, Democrats have typically spent more – especially with ad buys – during the closing weeks of House midterms. In 2020, that worked to their advantage, and Democrats gained control of the chamber. In 2018, Democrats spent more, but the GOP gained House majority.

2. Low voter turnout in midterms

Voter turnout is typically much lower in non-presidential elections. Since the 1980s, midterm voter turnout has hovered around 40%, whereas presidential cycles have reached over 60%. However, turnout during the Trump administration was high, particularly in the 2018 midterm election, which gave Nancy Pelosi her second stint as Speaker of the House. But because the stakes of the midterms were high this year, we saw more people turning up to the booths.

3. Key policy issues

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Democrats used abortion rights to win special elections in places like New York’s Hudson Valley, in addition to flipping Alaska’s lone House seat. Republicans, on the other hand, pointed to high inflation rates, government spending, and crime rates, which ultimately drove many voters to cast their ballots for the GOP.

Who was projected to take control of the House in 2022?

Republicans were favored to win the House

Post-Dobbs, Democrats banked on voters supporting abortion rights in order to maintain control of the House. However, in keeping with midterm trends, Republicans were projected to make a net gain of five seats to bring them into the House majority.

This projection was based on a variety of metrics, including generic ballot testing that favored a Republican-led Congress as well as President Biden’s low approval rating, which hovers around 40%. Super PACS and political party groups were spending money almost exclusively in districts that President Biden won in 2020, indicating that Democrats were in a defensive crouch.

Polling was aligned with typical midterm trends

Midterm elections often benefit the opposition political party at the expense of the White House’s party. 1994 and 2010 were typical midterm elections, where Republicans made gains in the House at the midpoint of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s first terms. Similarly, in 2018, Republican’s got crushed in House elections but picked up two seats in the Senate.

If a president’s approval ratings are high, then the presiding party typically fares better in midterm House elections. For example, in 1998, Bill Clinton’s approval rating was 66%, and Democrats retained control of the House. In 2002, George W. Bush polled at a 63%, and Republicans made gains. Currently, Biden’s approval rating is 42%, which is similar to former president Barack Obama’s rating in 2010. That year, Democrats lost control of the House, similar to what occurred during this year’s midterms.

Redistricting affected midterm outcomes

After each census, congressional district lines are redrawn. This Nov. 8 election was the first general election since the redistricting process concluded. In the 2020 presidential election, President Biden won 224 districts, and Donald Trump won 211. Under new districting, Biden won 226 districts, and Trump won 209. Voters typically engage in “straight ticket” voting, meaning that they vote the same way for the House and Senate as they do for presidential elections.

However, when breaking down the 2020 election results further, the number of districts that Trump won by more than 15 points goes from 132 under old maps to 143 under new maps. Under new district lines, there are only 33 districts that either Trump or Biden won by fewer than five percentage points. In this year’s House race, 33 districts were rated as toss ups, which made the 2022 midterm election close.

To keep up with news and developments from the 118th Congress, visit Bloomberg Government’s congressional resources and look out for upcoming events featuring our expert news team.

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