SOUTH BEND – Looking ahead after what just happened – with President Donald Trump and the Democratic brand the big losers – election prospects are bright for Republicans in 2022.
 
A diminished Democratic House majority, solidified Republican control of redistricting and the history of midterm elections point to Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives in 2022.
 
President-elect Joe Biden was of course the big winner this time. His personal appeal contrasted effectively with the unappealing but politically formidable Trump. Biden might have been the only Democratic presidential aspirant who could have defeated Trump, just as Hillary Clinton might have been the only Democratic aspirant who could have lost to Trump in 2016.
 
Now, Biden inherits a troubled nation, with a worsening pandemic, an economy suffering COVID-caused disruptions and a divisive split. His calls for unity are rejected by Trump and a multitude of Trump voters decrying and disputing the election results.
 
The Democratic brand was a big loser. And that is another serious problem for Biden, even though his personal brand prevailed. Democrats envisioned a big blue wave, sweeping away Trump and lots of his Republican supporters along with him. They were confident of defeating politically vulnerable incumbent Republicans to gain control of the Senate. Instead, they lost most of those races. 
 
Democrats were positive they would increase their House majority. Instead, Republicans made significant gains, leaving Democrats with a slim margin of around a dozen seats. Tired of Republican-controlled gerrymandering in so many states, they concentrated on winning control of more state legislative chambers for the redistricting now after the 2020 Census. Instead, they failed everywhere in the quest for more state legislative control. They cling now to hope of winning two tough run-off races in Georgia to bring a tie that Kamala Harris could break as vice president.
 
The Democratic brand wasn’t selling. Why? That’s the subject of a Democratic finger-pointing debate. Was it because campaign rhetoric of some party progressives left Democratic candidates in competitive areas vulnerable to Republican claims that they would “defund the police” and bring socialism? Or was it because party moderates didn’t stress big programs and change and didn’t punch back hard enough at Trump and the Republican brand?
 
Whatever the cause, the effect is clear. While Biden won in the key battleground states and added Arizona and Georgia to his decisive Electoral College total, Democrats down the ballot suffered a disaster that will in some ways last a decade.
 
Here’s why Republicans have a good chance to win back the House in 2022. With a slimmed-down Democratic majority, around a dozen seats as a few contests remain in doubt, the usual losses by the president’s party in midterm elections could bring Republicans control. The narrow margin is more precarious because Republicans solidified control of state legislatures. So, Republicans will draw districts to be used for a decade, until after the 2030 Census. They will be able immediately to pick off some Democrats with the new maps.
 
In midterm elections since World War II, the party of a sitting president lost an average of 26 House seats. In 2018, Republicans lost 39 seats two years after Trump’s election. In 2010, Democrats lost 63 seats while President Barack Obama was in the White House.
 
One reason for midterm losses is that voters grow dissatisfied with what a president’s party has accomplished, usually not what supporters hoped for. If Republicans keep control of the Senate now, Biden’s chances for accomplishments dwindle. And chances of continuing House control could dwindle as well. The situation would be far different if the Democratic brand had sold.
 
There was a Biden wave. He won with a record 80 million votes and the second highest vote percentage margin out of the six presidential elections in the 21st Century. Down-ballot, the color of the wave certainly wasn’t blue.

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.