In many ways, the 2022 House elections were a mirror of 2020. In 2020, Democrats won the popular vote by 3.1% and secured a 222-213 House majority – one that could have been stronger if not for five Republicans that held on by margins of 1% or less. In 2022, Republicans lead the House popular vote by 2.9% and have a 222-213 majority, with five Democrats holding on by less than 1%.
Like with the last Democratic House, the new Republican majority will be reliant on representatives that carried districts won by the other party in the last presidential election. We’re already seeing this conflict emerge as Kevin McCarthy struggles to assemble the 218 votes needed to become Speaker, and the struggle of managing such a tight caucus might be even more visible in the years to come.
An R+3 climate yields a marginally depolarized House
One major difference from 2020 is the field of play; while only 18 seats changed hands in 2020, 25 changed hands in 2022, and an additional seven new seats were on the table as well. Of these flips, Democrats managed to gain seven seats, while Republicans gained 18; Democrats carried four of the new districts while Republicans carried three,
Four of the Republican gains came from New York alone, with Republicans sweeping Long Island and winning two of the three seats in the Hudson Valley. Republicans also gained seats in California, New Jersey, and Oregon. In fact, the incoming Republican majority can be attributed entirely to their success at winning Biden districts in Democratic states; without the California and New York gains, they would be in the minority.
Democrats, meanwhile, made a few gains as well despite broadly losing ground nationally. Favorable redraws in Illinois and New Mexico netted the party two seats, and they also managed to flip a handful of competitive seats like WA-03 (a Trump+3 district) and OH-01 (a Biden+8 district). Like with the Republicans, however, many of these gains could be fleeting; WA-03 will be a top-tier target in 2024, and two of the new Democratic seats – NC-13 and NC-14 – are likely one-term rentals, as the legislature will be redrawing the interim map and is widely expected to draw out four Democrats, including newcomers Wiley Nickel and Jeff Jackson.
A uniform swing didn’t manifest
The 2022 midterms might just have put to bed the notion of a singular, uniform national swing. While the national map broadly trended to the right – something to be expected when the popular vote shifts more than five points towards the Republicans – there was not a neat, clean swing. Instead, it saw a mix of somewhat contradictory results: massive swings to the right in both safely Democratic and Republican seats, an outright red wave in Florida and New York, a red ripple in California, and a blue wave in Michigan.
A few fun facts:
- Republicans gained in every House district in the New York metropolitan area except NJ08 (Rob Menendez) and NJ11 (Mikie Sherrill).
- Despite winning every district bordering the Pacific Ocean, Democrats lost ground in almost all of them.
- Democrats overperformed in both West Virginia house districts.
- Rosa DeLauro (CT03) won re-election by a smaller margin than Joe Courtney (CT02).
Top Republican swings
|FL-26||Mario Díaz-Balart (R)||40.6%||58.9%||R+18.3%||29.1%||70.9%||R+41.8%||23.5%|
|FL-28||Carlos Giménez (R)||46.5%||52.9%||R+6.4%||36.3%||63.7%||R+27.4%||21.0%|
|OH-10||Mike Turner (R)||47.4%||50.9%||R+3.5%||37.8%||62.2%||R+24.4%||20.9%|
|NY-02||Andrew Garbarino (R)||48.7%||50.2%||R+1.5%||39.0%||61.0%||R+22.0%||20.5%|
|WA-04||Dan Newhouse (R)||40.3%||57.2%||R+16.9%||31.9%||68.1%||R+36.2%||19.3%|
|KY-06||Andy Barr (R)||43.5%||54.5%||R+11.0%||34.9%||65.1%||R+30.2%||19.2%|
|CA-27||Mike Garcia (R)||55.1%||42.7%||D+12.4%||46.8%||53.2%||R+6.4%||18.8%|
|FL-21||Brian Mast (R)||45.0%||54.4%||R+9.4%||36.5%||63.5%||R+27.0%||17.6%|
|MS-03||Michael Guest (R)||37.2%||61.5%||R+24.3%||29.1%||70.9%||R+41.8%||17.5%|
|UT-02||Chris Stewart (R)||39.5%||56.7%||R+17.2%||31.2%||59.7%||R+34.0%||16.8%|
|FL-11||Daniel Webster (R)||44.1%||55.0%||R+10.9%||35.4%||63.1%||R+27.7%||16.8%|
|NY-11||Nicole Malliotakis (R)||45.7%||53.4%||R+7.7%||37.9%||62.1%||R+24.2%||16.5%|
|CA-22||David Valadao (R)||55.3%||42.3%||D+13||48.4%||51.6%||R+3.2%||16.2%|
As would be expected in a cycle that saw Republicans win the popular vote, dozens of districts had double-digit shifts to the right. However, many of the strongest gains came in seats that were already strongly Republican, or in districts that are heavily Democratic. Out of the top 15 swings towards the Republican Party, only two (NY-04 and NY-03) were in districts that flipped from blue to red. Republicans saw similarly strong double-digit gains in safely Democratic seats like NY16 (Biden+44>Bowman+28), CA38 (Biden+30>Sánchez+16), NY-13 (Biden+77>Espaillat+63), and CA35 (Biden+27>Torres+15).
Of the top 15 overperforming districts, virtually all of them fall into one of three categories:
- The district is in Florida or New York, the two states that saw the heaviest shifts to the right.
- The incumbent Republican is moderate (OH-10), pro-impeachment (WA-04), or survived a primary against a right-wing challenger (MS-03, UT-02).
- The district is in a double-digit Biden seat in California.
Top Democratic swings
|AK-AL||Mary Peltola (D)||43.0%||53.1%||R+10.1%||51.8%||42.5%||D+9.3%||19.4%|
|HI-01||Ed Case (D)||63.9%||34.5%||D+29.4%||71.0%||25.3%||D+45.7%||16.3%|
|OH-09||Marcy Kaptur (D)||47.7%||50.6%||R+2.9%||56.5%||43.5%||D+13.0%||15.9%|
|ME-02||Jared Golden (D)||45.5%||51.6%||R+6.1%||48.2%||44.9%||D+3.3%||9.4%|
|ND-AL||Kelly Armstrong (R)||31.9%||65.5%||R+33.6%||37.7%*||62.3%||R+24.6%||9.0%|
|PA-02||Brendan Boyle (D)||71.0%||28.3%||D+42.7%||75.7%||24.3%||D+51.4%||8.7%|
|MI-08||Dan Kildee (D)||50.3%||48.2%||D+2.1%||53.1%||42.8%||D+10.3%||8.2%|
|CO-03||Lauren Boebert (R)||44.7%||52.9%||R+8.2%||49.9%||50.1%||R+0.2%||8.0%|
|KS-03||Sharice Davids (D)||51.2%||46.7%||D+4.5%||54.9%||42.8%||D+12.1%||7.6%|
|CT-02||Joe Courtney (D)||54.7%||43.3%||D+11.4%||58.2%||40.2%||D+18.0%||6.6%|
|TX-28||Henry Cuellar (D)||52.9%||45.9%||D+7.0%||56.6%||43.4%||D+13.2%||6.2%|
|TX-29||Sylvia Garcia (D)||67.8%||31.0%||D+36.8%||71.4%||28.6%||D+42.8%||6.0%|
|WV-02||Alex Mooney (R)||30.6%||67.6%||R+37.0%||34.4%||65.6%||R+31.2%||5.8%|
|GA-14||Marjorie Taylor Greene (R)||30.7%||68.1%||R+37.4%||34.1%||65.9%||R+31.8%||5.6%|
|NM-03||Teresa Leger Fernandez (D)||54.4%||43.6%||D+10.8%||58.1%||41.9%||D+16.2%||5.4%|
On the Democratic side, a handful of districts stand out. At the top of the list is Alaska’s at-large district, where Mary Peltola outran Joe Biden’s 2020 performance by 19.4% in her successful re-election campaign against former Governor Sarah Palin. Ed Case, a moderate Democrat from Hawaii, outran Biden’s already-impressive margin in his district by 16.35%. Perhaps the most impressive overperformer is Marcy Kaptur, who won her right-trending Trump+2.9 seat by a resounding 13-point margin.
Further down the list, some other candidates stand out; in North Dakota, a Democratic-endorsed independent was able to shift the state to within 25 points, while far-right Republicans in CO-03 and GA-14 saw sizable underperformances. In the case of CO-03, this was nearly enough to see this Trump+8.2 seat flip into Democratic hands for the first time since 2011. Analysts have pegged the Trump primary endorsement as having a five-point penalty on Republicans on average. In many cases, the seats that swung left were ones that saw Trump’s favored nominee come out on top in a primary.