Top House Democrat 'Not Too Sure' Party Can Maintain Control of Congress in 2022 Midterms

Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, expressed skepticism that his political party can maintain control of the legislative body in the 2022 midterm elections.

Clyburn, who represents South Carolina and currently serves as House Majority Whip, raised his concerns during a virtual address to the Charleston Jewish Federation on Wednesday evening. The top House Democrat said that he was "not too sure" that his party would maintain control of Congress.

"We are not going to do what we need to do next year until we build enough intestinal fortitude to start operating a little outside or beyond our comfort zones," Clyburn said, Jewish Insider first reported. "We're not there yet. I'm hopeful that we can get there. Will we ever get there? That remains to be seen."

"I think we can. I'm not sure we will," he continued. "My dad used to say to me all the time, 'Wherever there is a will, there is a way.' I'm not too sure that Democrats have yet developed the will to win in 2022."

Jim Clyburn
House Majority Whip Representative Jim Clyburn recently said he wasn't sure Democrats will keep control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on July 30 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The South Carolina representative's remarks are at odds with the assessment of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in the legislative chamber. Last month Pelosi, who represents California, expressed confidence that her party would maintain control of Congress in the upcoming midterms.

"I know we will win in the Congress. People say, 'Well, in the off year, it's not the good year.' But, I think any assumptions about politics are obsolete," Pelosi told reporters in early September. The leading congresswoman rejected projections that suggest her party will lose its control of the House.

"We live in a whole new world of communication and the rest. And I think that all of our members who survived Trump being on the ballot with them will survive next year because Trump's not on the ballot," Pelosi asserted.

Republican leaders have repeatedly voiced confidence about their electoral prospects in 2022. Recent historical precedent has shown that the party of the president in power generally loses a substantial number of House seats during the midterms of their first term in the White House. As Democrats only maintain control of the House by a narrow margin, even a few losses jeopardize their control of the chamber.

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics released an analysis of midterm elections going back to 1946 this past summer. The report showed that the party of the president in office, on average, loses more than 26 House seats during the midterms. The biggest loss has been 64 seats, while the most sizable gain has been just eight seats.

That analysis also showed similar results when it comes to the Senate. Currently, the Senate is evenly split—50 to 50—with Democrats maintaining control due to Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the president of the legislative body. Going back to 1946, the president's party, on average, has lost more than three Senate seats during the midterms. The largest loss was 13 seats, while the biggest gain was just four seats.

"We're going to get the majority back," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who aims to become speaker if the GOP takes control, said during a Conservative Political Action Conference event in February.

"I would bet my house. My personal house. Don't tell my wife, but I will bet it. This is the smallest majority the Democrats have had in 100 years," the Republican leader said.

While McCarthy aims to become speaker if the GOP takes back the House, some Trump supporters have suggested that Republicans should appoint the former president instead. Under the Constitution, the House is not required to choose an elected member of the legislative body to serve as speaker of the chamber. However, historical precedent has been that the top leader of the House is one of the elected representatives.

Newsweek reached out to Pelosi's office for comment.