Updated at 11:24 a.m. ET on February 27, 2020.
Congressional retirements are an early indicator of the political environment, and for the second consecutive election, more Republicans than Democrats are heading for the exit.
In all, 26 GOP House members and four senators are forgoing reelection this year without declaring their candidacy for another office, while just seven Democrats in the House and one in the Senate are retiring outright. The Republican retirements are nearing the level the party saw in 2018, when 28 Republicans retired ahead of the midterms, foreshadowing the blue wave that swept in a Democratic House majority.
The announcements may indicate that GOP members have little confidence that their party will regain power in the House anytime soon. It’s a familiar dynamic: In 2006, after Democrats won back the House majority for the first time in a dozen years, Republicans saw a high number of retirements in the following term. The departures helped Democrats pick up even more seats in the 2008 election.
In the Senate, Republicans are losing four veteran committee chairmen: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. While Alexander, Roberts, and Enzi represent solidly red states that will likely stay Republican in 2020, Isakson’s decision to resign at the end of 2019 for health reasons sets up a second Senate election in Georgia, where David Perdue is already up for reelection this year. The Democrat Stacey Abrams nearly won Georgia’s governorship in 2018, making the race for Isakson’s Senate seat potentially competitive this year—and one that could have big implications for control of the chamber.