Democrats insist that unique factors will make the 2022 elections history defying. Mr. Trump, the Capitol attack of Jan. 6, the pandemic and the fate of democracy itself will share the ballot with the usual issues of economic growth and the performance of the president.
“While voters see Democrats rebooting the economy and getting folks back on the job, Republicans are campaigning on junk science that is endangering people’s lives and false election claims that threaten our democracy,” said Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Redistricting will make the Democratic road steeper. David Wasserman, who tracks new district maps for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said so far, Democratic fears look somewhat overblown — Republican state legislatures have already gerrymandered their maps so severely that they can only go so much further. Republicans appear more intent on shoring up their vulnerable incumbents than destroying Democratic seats, he said.
In contrast, Democratic legislatures, especially in New York and Illinois, may actually produce more partisan maps than their G.O.P. brethren. In all, Mr. Wasserman said, Republicans could net up to five seats from new district lines, possibly enough to win the majority but far fewer than the 10 to 15 seats some Democrats fear.
Nonetheless, the new maps are pushing Democrats toward retirement. Mr. Doyle said he expects his district, which was once dominated by the city of Pittsburgh, to expand into more Trump-friendly counties to allow some of his Democratic voters to shore up the swing district now held by Representative Conor Lamb, a Democrat who is running for the state’s open Senate seat.
He could still win, he said, but he would have a whole new set of constituents, staff to hire, offices to open and hands to shake. After 26 years in the House, retirement was logical.