Senate GOP looks to Trump to keep hold of House majority

Senate Republicans believe the party’s chances of retaining its slim House majority will sink or swim with former President Trump in November as Democrats remain cautiously bullish of winning back the chamber despite chaos in the House GOP conference over the past year.

Republican lawmakers have oozed confidence for months about the potential of winning back the Senate in 2024, but the House is an entirely different matter. Members indicated that they see it as a true toss-up, with Trump being the determinative factor for better or worse.

“It depends on if Donald Trump wins,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a former House member. “The House is so tied to national waves and political cycles. If Donald Trump wins it’s hard for me to imagine Republicans losing the House.”

“If Donald Trump doesn’t win, I think we could very well win the Senate and lose the House,” he added.

With less than six months to go until Election Day, the battle for the House is on a razor’s edge. No matter what party emerges as victorious, a Democratic or Republican majority stands to have another thin margin to deal with heading into the 119th Congress.

House Republicans are down to just a two-seat margin, having endured a number of early retirements over the past year in part due to dissatisfaction with the situation on Capitol Hill as dysfunction has reigned ever since the GOP took over the majority last year.

This has helped turn the chamber into a jump ball.

“I would have to say it’s a toss-up,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who served seven terms in the House, told The Hill. “It’s anybody’s guess. I think it’s a true 50/50 kind of election, which tells you that something could tip it at the end.”

According to the Cook Political Report’s latest ratings, 210 seats are considered lean Republican or better, while 203 are deemed as such for Democrats, leaving 22 seats in the toss-up category to determine control. Those 22 seats are divided evenly between the GOP and Democrats, putting an even finer point on how close the battle for control is at this point.

But Republicans have gotten one major boost this year in the form of redistricting. While the party saw some losses on that end this cycle, it got the biggest win of all in North Carolina where the evenly-divided delegation (7 to 7) is set for a seismic change that will see at least 10 seats controlled by the GOP next year.

Democrats also declined to go for the jugular in New York and ended up with only modest change that could help determine the future of the lower chamber.

Nevertheless, members on both sides are cautiously optimistic that their parties can pull out a win in the end.

“I think there’s a path. … It’s about execution,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who agreed that Trump carries a lot of weight on his shoulders to push the House over the finish line for Republicans.

“There may be some minor ticket-splitting, but if he performs well in these districts, then I think the House members will as well,” Trump says.

Despite the redistricting defeats, Senate Democrats still feel the wind at their sails due largely to the House GOP’s performance — or lack thereof — over the past year. Headlining that was the tumult that consumed the conference in the fall as conservatives ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), sending the chamber into a free fall that reverberated for months.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has also been under question by some, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), after he worked with Democrats to advance must-pass spending bills and a national security supplemental that delivered aid to Ukraine.

Democrats, who are also buoyed by a fundraising advantage, also believe that their performance in 2022 that saw Trump be a drag on Republicans will carry over despite the boost the ex-president has given House GOP candidates when he has been on the ballot, including in 2020.

“It’s high, but guarded,” said Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who served eight terms in the House before winning his Senate seat in 2022. “It’s an incredible scene of dysfunction among the House Republicans. If performance is relevant to voter decisions, we’re in pretty good shape.”

“The $64 question is with the extreme gerrymandering and the nature of tribal politics, does it matter?” Welch said. “That’s a question all of us are always asking.

“We don’t know. We’re just in a new world,” he continued.

Others, though, could not be more bullish.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who led the House Democratic campaign arm in 2016 and 2018, told The Hill that his confidence level now is higher than it was heading into 2018. Democrats, of course, flipped the House in grand fashion then by netting 41 seats to end eight years in the minority.

“And in ‘18, we did pretty well,” he added.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

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