House Results: A Good Cycle for Incumbents

Democratic Members of Congress were bracing themselves for disaster. Running in a year marked by economic uncertainty — and widespread frustration with the direction that the country was heading in — incumbents in the party that controlled the federal government expected significant losses.

But catastrophic losses failed to materialize. House Democrats only lost six of their members in the general election, and were largely successful in the tightest races. On the Republican side, three members of Congress lost re-election. 

The total number of House incumbents who lost in the general election falls below the average number of losses over the past century. It also fits into a larger national trend which saw incumbents succeeding up and down the ballot. Just one incumbent governor lost re-election (Democrat Steve Sisolak in Nevada) and no senator has lost in the primary or general elections up to this point. If Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock survives the runoff in Georgia, it will be the first time in more than a century that at least one senator wasn’t defeated. 

Since 1916, an average of 29 House incumbents have lost their general election races each cycle. In 2020, 13 members of Congress, all Democrats, lost re-election in November. The last year general election losses remained in the single digits was 2016, when eight members lost their seats.

For several of these members, redistricting outcomes in their seats made it nearly impossible to win re-election. Some…

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