“I THINK we get to 218.”
Those were the words of one senior Republican who understands House elections at a granular level. Republicans still believe they will have the majority in the House. But it could be by a razor-thin margin.
“It’s not going to be the majority everyone had hoped,” said one member of the House GOP leadership brass to Fox News.
“Maybe we’ll get to 230.”
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Republicans will try to use that “230” figure as a benchmark. That’s the same number of seats Republicans won in 1994 when they flipped control of the House for the first time in 40 years.
But it’s far from clear if the GOP can get anywhere close to 230 or will instead be mired in the low 220s.
A party needs 218 votes to control the House.
“We will be in the majority,” said one Republican. “And that’s nothing to mope about.”
Fox News is told that Republicans are trying to figure out what went wrong when expectations were so high. Was there an issue with polling?
As Fox reported yesterday, in the wave election of 2010, the bottom fell out for Democrats in the early fall. The bottom never dropped out at all this time.
Also, in 2020, Republicans won nearly every single toss-up race. This time around, several incumbents lost.
“[Former President] Donald Trump is killing them with independents,” confided one well-placed Republican source with ties to Congress and the former administration.
One Republican source said that Trump on the ballot is what gets Republicans to the polls. One source who asked not to be identified said the party is going to struggle with that problem as they head toward 2024. This is exacerbated by the belief that the former president will announce his presidential bid for 2024 next week.
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However, Republicans won multiple House seats in Florida. All of those seats were drawn in a way to be “Trump” seats.
Republicans won in New York seats that President Biden previously carried.
Also, abortion appeared to be a factor. The race involving former Interior secretary and former Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., isn’t done yet. But an abortion initiative on the ballot in Montana may have undercut Zinke’s efforts to return to the House.
Now the problem turns to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and whether he can prevail in a speaker’s race.
“The Freedom Caucus is more powerful in a smaller majority,” said one House Republican source. “The knives are out. I hope Kevin can pull it out.”
Fox was told that things are “eerily quiet” right now as rank-and-file Republicans try to come to grips with the outcome and decide what to do about McCarthy or others.
Fox has heard there could be an effort to throw NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., under the bus. Emmer was in charge of House GOP re-election efforts. Emmer is also trying to become the House majority whip, locked in a battle with Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Drew Ferguson, R-Ga.
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Fox News is told there has been no discussion about trying to move next Wednesday’s internal House GOP leadership election.
“It was always going to be hard for Kevin,” said one Republican.
The full House won’t vote for speaker until the beginning of the Congress: Jan. 3, 2023.