ORLANDO, Fla. — While intra-party squabbles have emerged within the GOP in the post-Trump era, top Republicans who gathered for their annual retreat in Orlando are in agreement that momentum is on their side to flip back the House in 2022.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer — who is tasked with leading the House GOP campaign arm’s strategy to win back the lower chamber — said he thinks it’s too early to project the number of seats they will pick up, but he’s bullish about their odds.
The Minnesota Republican noted that they far exceeded political forecasters’ expectations last cycle, where some projected they would lose 10-to-15 seats but defied the odds, making substantial gains that have led to Democrats holding the slimmest majority in modern history.
“It’s within grasp — the difference between the 213 and the 218 was 31,751 votes. I meant it when I said it after the election that I was disappointed that we did not win the majority as we had planned to do. Flipping the House for the first time in a two-year presidential cycle in over 50 years, that was the goal,” he told The Post.
“Yeah, there were some good things, but now here’s what we have to do — one, you must protect every incumbent and just like we did the last cycle, [it was the] first time every Republican incumbent returned since 1994, and then it’s making sure that we have a plan and we actually execute on that plan to pick up the seats we need to be in the majority, and then the message this morning, the added piece was once you have the majority you need to build a lasting majority.”
Emmer said the NRCC plans to ramp up their efforts to link vulnerable members to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), citing recent internal polling showing the California Democrat with a 38 percent approval rating. He argued that Pelosi has catered to the far-left faction of her party instead of pursuing policies that would give her front-line members an edge, asserting that they will continue to slam vulnerable Democrats with ads connecting them with progressive policies like the Green New Deal and defunding the police which proved to be an effective tactic last cycle.
“She’s [Pelosi] never been more unpopular. We did some battleground polling, I think somehow got out last night, ours had her down at 38, but I saw some polling this morning at 37, so, yeah, she’s dropped seven points since February,” he continued.
“We didn’t really incorporate or the last time, others might have, but we approached it from a freedom is on the ballot standpoint and these New Democrats came in probably announced they’re socialists, so that’s really what the focus was this time I think it’s really is going to be about Nancy Pelosi and her socialist agenda because that’s what she’s pushing. She is literally the only one in the House doing this stuff, everybody’s following but she’s writing it all.”
Other leaders echoed Emmer’s sentiments, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) telling reporters: “We believe Republicans will take the House in 2022,” adding that they are continuing to work on recruiting diverse, qualified candidates.
And House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he’s confident they can retain populist, Trump voters while gaining back suburban voters by highlighting school closures during the pandemic, proposals to increase taxes and far-reaching, costly energy policies.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise thinks the GOP can keep populist Trump voters and gain back suburban supporters.REUTERS
“It’s not just history where people want checks and balances but then yet on top of that, the far left agenda that President Biden’s pushing with Nancy Pelosi is out of touch with a lot of those suburban voters that we lost that are still with us on a lot of the issues that we’re going to be advocating for next year,” he said.
And while House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and McCarthy were publicly at odds over what role former President Donald Trump should have in the party moving forward, she said that she feels the party is more unified than not and feels good about where they stand in terms of flipping the House.
“I feel really good about it — if you just look at everything from the historical record of the party gaining seats in the midterm that’s not in the White House. If you look at how few seats we have to gain if you look at the substance of the policies,” she told The Post.
“If you look at the track record that I’m confident the Biden administration is going to have which won’t won’t be an appealing one for voters. If you look at redistricting. I think that we have a huge number of factors that go our way that really make, make me optimistic about our chances.”
Emmer said Republicans’ biggest hurdle in taking back power is “ourselves,” adding that despite having differences at times, they need to remain focused on their goal of unseating Democrats.
“I mean right now we’re about as unified as you could ever hope for. It’s just making sure that we understand that while we can have differences and we always should, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “We have to be unified on one goal, which is retiring Nancy Pelosi and stopping the socialist left agenda that they’re trying to force onto the American people.”
While members in Orlando discussed their plan for the midterms, lawmakers are expected to discuss their strategy further in detail at the NRCC spring meeting in Miami this weekend.