House Democrats expected to pick up seats on Election Day after months of polls and pundits insisted 2020 would bring about another Blue Wave. Even Fox News projected Democrats would gain five seats in the House.
So far, Democrats have only managed to flip two districts while Republicans have flipped eight, meaning the GOP has a net gain of six. Republicans have won or are leading in all 26 House races they were expected to narrowly win and have won or are leading in 25 of the 27 races labeled as tossups by The New York Times. Republican candidates have also won or are leading in nine of the 36 races expected to be narrowly won by Democrats.
The Blue Wave didn’t emerge, and now House Democrats are looking for someone or something to blame. Politico reported Wednesday that members of the party are blaming everything from the stalled coronavirus relief bill to the polls to the left-wing rioters in Democrat-controlled cities over the summer and into the fall. Others blamed party leadership.
“Some corners of the party were also beginning to question the message and tactics at the top, with several Democrats predicting — and some even demanding — a significant overhaul within the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, including possibly even ousting chairwoman Cheri Bustos, whose Illinois race has yet to be called,” the outlet reported. “Just 24 hours earlier, Democrats including Bustos and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were boasting about the opportunity to expand their majority, with some even predicting they could win as many as a dozen seats in the House by clawing back GOP territory in the suburbs of Texas, Ohio and Illinois.”
Some Democrats blamed the left wing of the party, saying the specter of socialism loomed large in Trump-leaning districts. Others told Politico the DCCC spent money in races it had no hope of winning. Still others suggested the party had no real message beyond bashing President Donald Trump.
As it currently stands, 40 House races have yet to be called, leaving control of the lower chamber up in the air. Democrats are expected to maintain control, though not by much.
“I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty. I would say the high expectations that a number of pollsters and pundits created obviously have not been met,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told Politico. “We’ll have a Democratic majority in the House, and it remains to be seen how big that will be.”
Some losses for Democrats were a surprise, including Rep. Donna Shalala’s (D-FL) loss to Republican challenger Maria Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Shalala previously served as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Salazar was endorsed by Trump.
Democratic lawmakers privately told Politico they expected Pelosi to face a tougher leadership vote than usual, though none said they thought she should step down or even suggested a challenger.