SOUTH BEND – Three reasons why Republicans are very likely to take control of the House next year involve things over which Democrats have little or no control. There is, however, one reason why Democrats might be able somehow to hang on to their slim majority. And they do have better prospects of at least holding on to the 50-50 Senate tie.
     
Reasons for Republicans winning control of the House:

First, history is on their side. The party out of the White House almost always makes big gains in the first midterm election in a new presidency. In those midterm elections since the end of World War II, the average loss for the president’s party has been 29 seats. Democrats lost 63 seats in the 2010 midterm after election of President Barack Obama. Republicans lost 40 seats in the 2018 midterm after election of Donald Trump.
     
Because Democrats already lost seats in 2020, even as Joe Biden won the presidency, Republicans need only a net of five seats to win the majority. Democrats can’t go back to 2020 to win more seats. Factors in midterm losses for the president’s party include voters wanting a check on the president and disillusionment over any president’s inability to bring about everything voters hoped for.
     
Second, redistricting after the census will result in many more safe Republican seats. That’s because Republicans control state legislatures in far more states than do Democrats. Both parties gerrymander, but the GOP controls district drawing in many more states.
     
This happened because Democrats, as well as losing key congressional races, failed to shift control anywhere of a state legislature. The Democratic brand just didn’t sell down ballot after voters dumped Trump in the presidential race. Can’t go back and change state legislatures now.
     
Third, “Defund the police.” That call from some protesting against the police murder of George Floyd and other cases of fatal injustice furnished an unintended political weapon to tarnish the Democratic brand. Biden and Black leaders stressed that they were NOT for defunding police. Reform, yes, and revised distribution of resources, but not decimating police forces and taking cops off the streets.
     
Still, a Republican TV ad rated as one of the most effective portrayed a caller in trouble getting only a recorded message: “You have reached the 9-1-1 police emergency line.” The response continued: “Due to the defunding of the police department, we’re sorry, but no one is here to take your call. If you’re calling to report rape, please press one.” A warning flashed on the screen: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
     
Unfair? 

Sure. So are many campaign ads. This one was effective in tarnishing the Democratic brand. It didn’t matter that even those calling for “defunding” weren’t suggesting that all cops be fired.  Didn’t matter that Biden and Black leaders such as Congressman Jim Clyburn and Rev. Al Sharpton pleaded for a halt to “defunding” talk. Sharpton slapped at “latte liberals” seeking to speak for what Blacks want and need.
     
Whether sipping latte or not, Democrats still using the term “defund” and trying to explain it provide a gift that keeps on giving for the GOP, especially with violent crime rising.

However, one possible reason why Democrats might be able to hang on to a House majority is Donald Trump, if he keeps spouting nutty vote conspiracy theories. If Trump jumps into Republican primary contests, trying to defeat anyone who didn’t give him total support and seeking instead election of more Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the GOP could be splintered. Trump’s act could wear thin. It did when he made the Georgia runoff campaign all about him. Republicans lost both Senate races and thus lost control of the Senate.        

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