Speed Reads

1 and done

Republicans are now just 1 seat away from a slim House majority

A series of House races called for Republicans in California, Arizona, and New York on Monday evening pushed the GOP to 217 House seats in the next Congress, versus 204 for Democrats, according to Associated Press projections. That puts Republicans one seat away from clinching a majority. 

There were still 14 uncalled House races as of Monday night, most of them in California; Republicans lead in four of those races while Democrats lead in nine, The New York Times reports. There are "a lot of options for the GOP to get that 218th seat, perhaps as soon as tomorrow," New York Times election data reporter Nate Cohn tweeted Monday night. 

"Even barely achieving 218, though, means Republicans will likely have the narrowest majority of the 21st century," perhaps in line with the GOP's 221-212 majority in 2021, AP reports. That would give Republicans control over House committees, allowing them to launch investigations they have promised into the Biden administration and the president's son, Hunter Biden. "But a slim numerical advantage will pose immediate challenges for GOP leaders and complicate the party's ability to govern," AP notes, and it's "far short of the sweeping victory Republicans predicted going into this year's midterm elections."

Given the GOP's "historically weak performance in the midterm elections, its members appeared bitterly divided over who should lead what was shaping up to be a tiny and unruly House majority," the Times reports. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) spent Monday "scrounging for the support he would need to become the House speaker." McCarthy allies even "made multiple calls to Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas," asking him "if he would switch parties to expand the GOP majority," The Wall Street Journal reported. "Cuellar turned them down."

Republicans will be happy to have even a bare majority in one chamber of Congress, giving them real power in Washington. But "the GOP's failure to notch more gains was especially surprising because the party went into the election benefiting from congressional maps that were redrawn by Republican legislatures," AP reports. It was an unusual election on any terms, though, and redistricting did play a role, feeding a "red wave" in heavily gerrymandered Florida and also in New York, where Democratic attempts to redraw districts were struck down by a state court.