December 7, 2018

House Republicans who lost re-election bids were more moderate than those who won

Midterm election returns roll in during an election night event for Arizona GOP candidates on Nov. 6 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

When Republicans lost their House majority in this year’s midterm elections, the toll was especially high among GOP moderates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Among the Republican House incumbents who lost their re-election campaigns, 23 of 30 were more moderate than the median Republican in the chamber. No Democratic incumbents running for re-election in the House lost their seats. (This analysis excludes the election in New York’s 27th Congressional District, where votes are being recounted. Incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Collins ran for re-election against Democrat Nate McMurray.)

Incumbents’ ideological positions were measured by their DW-NOMINATE scores, measures of ideology derived from their voting records. These scores range from -1 for the most liberal voting records to +1 for the most conservative records.

Prior to Election Day, many members decided not to run for re-election. Out of 36 retirements in advance of the election, 26 were Republicans (the figures here exclude those who resigned as a result of a scandal, decided to run for some higher office, or were appointed to some position within the Trump administration). Overall, these members’ ideologies were not much different from those who ran for re-election.

Note: See full list of Republican House members who were defeated in the 2018 midterms here (PDF). 

Topics: Congress, Federal Government, Elections and Campaigns, 2018 Election

  1. Photo of Bradley Jones

    is a research associate focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.