NBC News stopped just short of calling the U.S. House for Republicans on Monday morning, but whoever leads the new GOP majority will have a historically challenging job:
Leading a 219-216 majority which will leave precious room for error and, given the tight margin, making it extra-difficult to keep warring internal factions in line.
“Though NBC News cannot project control of the House at this time, the Decision Desk has released its estimate for the U.S. House of Representatives as a whole, which reflects the most probable outcome for partisan control,” the network explained shortly before Noon.
Today’s non-call (?) is the first legacy media call desk acknowledgement Nancy Pelosi’s second speakership is coming to an end effective January 2023. While the long-time San Fran congresswoman has indicated a desire to continue serving in leadership, it remains to be seen whether Democrats (who did better than expected last week but nevertheless lost ground in key races) will permit her another term as party leader.
A 3-seat Republican majority seems unthinkable when measured against the projections of most pundits, pollsters, and operatives before last Tuesday; RealClearPolitics, for example, projected an average GOP net gain of 30 U.S. House seats heading into the final days of the midterm cycle. The “red wave” so many of us expected failed to materialize, however, as an apparent combination of poor candidate selection, partisan gerrymandering, and partisan pushback against the Dobbs decision prevented a Democrat rout.
While the GOP failed to meet expectations in dozens of close suburban districts around the country, gains in the reliably blue tristate area – New York (where Republicans gained five seats) and New Jersey (where Tom Kean defeat Tom Malinowski) – ultimately powered the new razor-thin Republican majority and deprived Pelosi of her gavel for another two years…
…or maybe not? Vacancies aren’t uncommon in the U.S. House. Deaths, retirements, and scandal-induced resignations happen annually. It’s entirely possible that control of the House could change one or even more than one more times before the next federal election.
The only certainty? This year’s final results closely mirror the state of play prior to Tuesday when Democrats enjoyed tiny 5-seat majority signaling a country which remains closely divided heading into the 2024 presidential cycle.