By Eric Bradner
Democrats searching for the 24 seats they need to flip to win control of the House in the 2018 midterms are increasingly seeing openings in districts where tough-to-beat Republicans are retiring.
So far, 31 House Republicans are either retiring or running for other offices. That’s more than double the 15 Democrats who are not running for re-election.
Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined the list of retirees this week. Rep. Martha McSally is set to become the 32nd departure when she launches her Senate campaign Friday.
Why do retirements matter so much? Because it’s much harder for the challenging party — in 2018’s case, the Democrats — to beat an incumbent than to win an open seat. The Cook Political Report has useful data that lays this out.
There are several Democratic retirements that have given Republicans big openings, too: Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz’s departure could allow the GOP to take a district that President Donald Trump won by 15 points in 2016. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s New Hampshire district has a long history of switching hands. And Rep. Jacky Rosen’s decision to run for the Senate in Nevada opens up a competitive seat there, as well.
But in a wave election — the kind that crashed the 1994, 2006 and 2010 midterms and could be building amid a backlash to Trump’s presidency — the Republican-held seats will be among the most hotly contested in the country.
Here are the 10 biggest Republican retirements so far, ranked in order of how significantly they shook up the House battleground map:
8. Rep. Lynn Jenkins — Kansas 2nd
Why is a district that Trump won by 18 points on this list? Mostly because of the presence of former state House Minority Leader Paul Davis as the leading Democrat in the race.
State Sens. Caryn Tyson and Steve Fitzgerald and state Rep. Kevin Jones are among the Republican candidates.