We’re nearing the 2022 midterm elections. Campaigns are moving faster. Politicians are growing more popular, or, for some, less. The upcoming races will decide the distribution of Congress and state governments across the nation. In an analysis of these elections, it is important to assess the impact of a GOP-controlled House of Representatives on the United States territories.
Republicans have a fair chance at flipping the party dominance of the House. Currently, the legislature consists of 220 Democrats (a party majority) and 211 Republicans. 4 seats are vacant due to deaths and resignations. Zero independents or third-party members currently hold seats in the House.
Although Democrats have a majority in the legislature, Republicans are likely to establish a majority this election season. At the beginning of this election cycle, the GOP had control of redrawing electoral district boundaries in every southern state except Virginia and Louisiana. By redistricting, Republicans were able to create seven new GOP-leaning districts. As data from the Brennan Center shows, with these changes, the Republicans are favored to win 70 percent of the region’s 155 seats. As we’ve seen in previous elections, the success of Republicans in the South is crucial to their large-scale election performance.
In a press release made public in November of 2020, Puerto Rico’s RNC Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas wrote,
“We, the American citizens of Puerto Rico, made it clear Tuesday that statehood is the future for our island. Statehood won a clear majority in a plebiscite that saw voter participation far exceeding that of many federal elections on the mainland, leaving no room for doubt about the path forward.”
Although the RNC is endorsing Puerto Rican statehood, individual Republicans are unlikely to push for recognition. The issue has only received attention under Democratic majorities. It is not helped by the fact that as per Republic House rules, territorial delegates lose all voting power in the Committee of the Whole, which functions as a regular committee but includes all House members. Republican-controlled Houses often place territorial issues at the bottom of the docket. This means that such debates rarely receive Congressional attention and are almost never addressed. With conservative power, territories seeking incorporation, like Puerto Rico, would likely see their ambitions take a back seat.
It’s safe to say that certain territorial politicians would be quite satisfied with a Republican majority in the House. The current governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, Ralph Torres, is a dedicated Republican. He has been heavily involved in the party’s mainland affairs, announcing his public support for former president Donald Trump in 2016. Politically, conservative leaders in the territories could receive more national recognition. Policy-wise, it is unlikely that these regions would advance much in the areas needing serious attention.
As November approaches, the impact of the upcoming elections becomes clearer. A congressional majority for either the Democrats or Republicans could mean big news for the US territories.