Three days after Election Day, there is still the possibility that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus could stun the world by retaining control of the House of Representatives when the 118th Congress convenes on January 3. It is also possible that the Republicans will get the 218 votes needed to gain power next year.
Of the 435 seats in the lower house, the GOP has already claimed 211, while the Democrats have already been declared the winners of 195 contests.
And of the 29 seats that remain undecided, the GOP only needs seven more to secure a simple majority.
Most election forecasters in the United States have predicted that the Republicans will indeed take control of the House, but getting there will not be so easy.
Of the remaining undecided districts, about 12 of them are considered draws, meaning forecasters have given both sides an equal chance of winning.
Yet so far, Democrats are currently leading in eight of those contests. They should push forward in all of them to defy expectations and keep Ms Pelosi in charge. And while Republicans are far more likely to win an overall victory in the end, it may still fall short of the five-seat margin Democrats have had to manage since the 11th Congress opened in 2021.
That’s bad news for the man who has led the House GOP for the last two conventions, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
While her counterpart on the Democratic side, Ms Pelosi, is famous for keeping her members in line when it comes to voting on important issues such as President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act or the Reduction Act. inflation, Mr. McCarthy has never fought complex legislation across the House with only a small number of votes to spare.
Additionally, the House Republican Conference he may end up leading as a speaker will be filled with Trumpian extremists who have built their careers pillorying GOP leaders who cooperate with Democrats on anything, even unavoidable bills to finance the government or prevent the United States from defaulting on sovereign debt and blowing up the global economy.
A one-seat majority would be even more of a nightmare for the GOP leader, because it would put each of his members where West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has spent the past two years: empowered to block any bill that he doesn’t like it for any reason. .
Already, members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus have made it clear to Mr. McCarthy that they plan to extract costs from him before backing his bid for president, should the GOP win a majority.
But even if they do, we won’t know for a while.
Most of the remaining seats are in California, which for years held elections largely by mail.
It may take days – if not weeks – to determine whether Mr. McCarthy’s conference will have the 218 members it needs to control the agenda for the next two years.
But even if it is, he may end up regretting it.