Representative Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, announced his retirement on Monday. Royce’s announcement had brought the number of Republicans who are either leaving the House or seeking office elsewhere, to 30.
But no sooner had the news about Royce set it, then it was announced just this morning, that Darrel Issa, one of the most prominent Republicans in the House is retiring as well. The number of Republicans leaving the House this year now stands at 31. And that probably will not be the last announcement this week. It’s widely expected that Martha McSally of Arizona will announce that she will leave her seat and run for the Senate this week.
One of the most prominent reasons for Republicans vacating their seats is President Trump’s low approval rating. Many of the Republicans retiring represent swing districts. They feel President Trump’s performance will be a heavy weight on their chances. Many of them represent districts won by Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election.
Losses in the midterm elections by the party that controls the White House is the rule in Washington, not the exception. Since 1962, average midterm losses in the house by the sitting president’s party, when that president’s approval rating was below 50%, is 40 seats. President Trump’s approval rating is currently at 40%.
But approval ratings are no guarantee that party will do well. President Clinton’s approval was 46% in 1994, and Democrats lost 54 seats and control of the House. President Obama’s approval was 50% in 2010 and Democrats lost 63 seats in one of the biggest wave elections in history. Democrats would need to win 24 seats in order to take control of the House this year.
Despite the departures, the Republican Party is convinced their chances are still excellent in maintaining control of the House. Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, said of Rep. Royce’s vacated seat, “We have just one message for Democrats who think they can compete for this seat: Bring it on.”