Republicans Will Maintain House Majority, NRCC Chairman Says

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee

Predicted that the Republican Party will maintain its majority in the House of Representatives, pointing out that Donald Trump’s candidacy is not having the negative effect that some had been anticipating.

Walden said the GOP knew this election cycle would be different than the last, which gave Republicans the largest majority in the House since 1928.

“We believe, coming through the history, we have seen over time that investing in data and digital and analytics was the key to our future success. We’ve proven that in special elections. We’ve proved it in 2014, so we believe going into ’16 that we have the right makeup of what the electorate will look like, recognizing its never static nor are our analytics,” Walden said at a National Press Club Newsmakers event in Washington.

“So we feel very strongly that we will maintain the House majority in very solid shape. I’m never one to necessarily put a number out there, although last cycle we said drive to 245 and we forgot to hit the brakes and skidded to 247. This election cycle being presidential is a little more volatile, but, again, we feel very confident that we will maintain the majority,” he added.

Walden said the Democrats have had “significant recruitment failures” across the country in multiple districts.

“Our members are in very strong shape,” he said.

Walden stressed that despite what might be happening nationally or statewide, he is focused on the data from “the competitive districts.”

“We were out over the last 3 weeks surveying in these districts and I can tell you, if you look at the 24 most competitive districts, that we’ve polled in August collectively, the generic ballot is 44-41 favoring Republicans — that question as you know is: would you vote for the Republican or Democrat for Congress in your district? 44-41 — so we lead on the generic in the districts that matter,” he said.

Walden was asked to respond to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said there is a chance Democrats will take back the House.

Walden said Pelosi incorrectly predicted that Democrats were on pace to win the majority in the 2012 election and take back the House in the 2014 midterm election.

“I know they have to market. I know they have to spin. I get all that. I just ask you, if they say 80 seats are in play, have them produce the list and show me the data,” he said.

Walden pointed out that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are “not popular” in the 24 most-competitive congressional districts.

“We are not seeing a significant down-ballot effect at this point in time. It doesn’t mean things don’t change — I mean that’s what the next 60 days or 59 is all about. We will be watching this and adjusting accordingly, but, throughout the year, there have been folks on the other side who have made that claim that all they have to do is tie our member to Donald Trump and game over,” he said.

“I’m not seeing empirical data that backs up that and they’re even having to shift how they now operate in terms of their campaigns and I think American voters are a lot smarter than that and they understand that the person they are voting for in their House district is somebody they know and it’s clear these presidential candidates are running for their own offices,” he added.

Walden also commented on Trump’s lack of a strong “field operation” in some key battleground states such as Florida, where he currently has one field office.

“So, where a presidential campaign may not have the same level of ground game you would normally expect, the RNC has actually been in these states with field offices doing a lot of work a presidential campaign might come in to do,” he said.

Walden said the Republican Party will continue investing in its ground game.

“We know how to do get out of the vote. We know where we need it. Our campaigns built that in from the beginning,” he said.