House Republicans shellacked Democrats for the second time during President Barack Obama's administration Tuesday night, upsetting several members as a count of Democratic losses climbed into double digits.
As of 1:30 a.m. — with a number of races in California, New York and Arizona outstanding — Republicans had gained a net 13 seats, putting them on track to win their largest majority since 1949. The losses more than erased Democrats' 8-seat gain in 2012, and leaves the party at a huge disadvantage going into a presidential cycle.
As a result, Democratic operatives are increasingly resigned to the notion they will not gain House control until new maps are drawn in 2021.
Several veteran House Democrats were among the party's most heart-breaking defeats.
Two longtime Blue Dogs — Reps. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia and John Barrow of Georgia — were some of the first casualties in election results. Both seats will be difficult for Democrats to win again in the near future.
“Are we going to keep walking the plank again and again?” asked a senior Democratic Hill staffer.
While the gavel was never seriously considered in contention this cycle, Democratic operatives had hoped to either make small gains or at least mitigate losses this year. They hoped they would be in a position to fight for control of the House in 2016, but that might not be the case.
Instead, the party lost almost every competitive or open-seat race on the map .
Reps. Timothy H. Bishop and Dan Maffei lost in New York, joining defeated Reps. Bill Enyart and Brad Schneider of Illinois, Joe Garcia of Florida and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire. The party failed to pick up House seats Obama won in Iowa, New Jersey and Virginia.
Democrats did have a few bright spots on Election Day.
Attorney Gwen Graham defeated GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II in Florida's 2nd District. And Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., trailed the Democrat, state Sen. Brad Ashford, in the Omaha-based 2nd District by solid margin — although The Associated Press hadn't call the race as of 2 a.m.
Perhaps the biggest winner of the night was National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden.
In recent weeks, Reps. Aaron Schock of Illinois and Roger Williams of Texas telegraphed interest in challenging him as head of the House GOP's political arm.
Prior to the polls closing, Walden was asked about a potential challenge to his NRCC chairmanship.
“I'm pretty confident my Republican leaders will be standing behind me and my conference will as well," Walden said. "I’m in this to elect Republicans. I did what my conference asked. I think we’ve done it well, we've got a great team."
But at least one plugged-in Hill staffer said last week that Walden would likely be safe if the GOP picked up at least six seats. The party could more than double that figure after all the votes are counted.
As for the Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be tasked with selecting a new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. His or her task will be one of the hardest lifts of anyone in that position in recent memory. In a brief statement early Wednesday morning, Pelosi thanked current Chairman Steve Israel of New York and applauded his "tenacious leadership."
Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.
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