In our continuing effort to study the 2018 electoral landscape, FairVote is tracking announcements from members of Congress who will not seek re-election, and describe how the new open seat impacts our projections for the upcoming elections to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Late last week, Rep. Ron Desantis (R-FL-06) announced that instead of seeking re-election, he would run for the Florida governorship. Desantis vacates a safe seat with a Republican partisanship of 59.5 percent, and FairVote can still project a GOP victory here using our high confidence projections.
This week, the retirements of Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-39) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) provide Democrats strong opportunities to pick up seats. California’s 39th District has a Democratic partisanship of 53.3 percent, while California’s 49th District has a Democratic partisanship of 52.7 percent. Both districts remain too close to call using FairVote’s highest confidence projections, though our full projections in an even year now show the Democrats winning 193 seats, rather than 192.
The retirements of Royce and Issa also continue the trend of crossover representatives disappearing. A crossover representative is a member of Congress from one of the two major parties representing a district that generally favors the other. They tend to have more moderate and less partisan voting patterns than other members of Congress. Their steady replacement by members in line with the district’s partisanship signals the continued escalation of polarization in the House.
According to data collected by Daily Kos, in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the 39th District with 51.5 percent to 42.9 percent and won the 49th District with 50.7 percent to 43.2 percent. In 2016, there were only 35 districts that split their tickets by electing a candidate of the opposite party of the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in the district. Already this cycle, eight of these crossover representatives (five Republicans, three Democrats) have announced their retirement. Republican retirements have already eclipsed past rates of retirements and the filing deadline has only passed in two states (Illinois and Texas). So, expect the number of retiring members to increase even more.
We still make high confidence projections in 378 races, 207 for Republicans and 171 for Democrats.
Here is a summary of all vacancies heading into 2018 so far:
And here is the full list of open seats: