2020 House Overview: It’s Not Too Early

by Nathan L. Gonzales and Leah Askarinam

It’s too early to project the outcome of House elections or the mood of the electorate 21 months from now. But it’s not too early to talk House races as potential candidates explore runs and incumbents decide whether to seek re-election.

At this early stage, control of the House is broadly in play in 2020. After losing 40 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans need to gain 18 or 19 seats to regain the majority (depending on the outcome in North Carolina’s 9th District).  

The good news for Republicans is that much of the fight for the House will take place in districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016. There are now 31 Democrats who represent Trump districts, compared to just three Republicans who represent Hillary Clinton districts.

The good news for Democrats is that Republicans have gained House seats in just one of the last six presidential elections. And in 2004, President George W. Bush’s job rating was about 10 points better than Trump’s. Republicans have gained more than 18 House seats in just one presidential election in the last 50 years, when they gained 34 seats in 1980. But the GOP was still nowhere near the majority. Democrats are looking for a repeat of 2008, when they gained 20 seats on the heels of a 31-seat gain in the preceding midterms.  

This cycle, Republicans hope to recruit their own crop of political newcomers without legislative records, while new Democratic Members will need…

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