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House Republicans don’t agree on why they lost the 2018 midterms

House Republicans lost the suburbs in 2018. The new NRCC chair doesn’t see “political realignment” there.

Candidates For Virginia House Of Representatives Campaign Ahead Of Midterm Elections
Young supporters of Democratic US House candidate Jennifer Wexton rally in suburban Virginia during the 2018 election cycle.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Republicans lost the 2018 midterms in suburbia: All in all, they lost more than half of the 73 competitive suburban districts in the country on their way to losing the House of Representatives by 36 seats.

But the House Republican tasked with winning back the majority in 2020 says he doesn’t think the politics of suburban America have changed.

“There’s a narrative that people are trying to build out there that somehow there’s been this shift, this political realignment in the suburbs,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who will chair the National Republican Congressional Committee, told National Journal. “That’s not true. It isn’t there.”

Instead, he says, the problem is that Republicans didn’t stay unified behind the winning message: the economy. President Trump won’t make or break the elections for House Republicans in two years, he said.

Emmer appears so confident that the suburbs aren’t a problem for Republican that he said he’s going to encourage ousted Republicans to run again in 2020, National Journal reported.

Ask House Republicans who just went through one of the toughest election cycles in a generation, though, and they have a very different perspective. They might not see a complete “political realignment,” but they see Trump shifting suburban voters away from the party — and that his rhetoric on immigration hurt Republicans more than it helped them in these key districts.

“If we look at the seats we lost, it’s the suburban areas,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who won reelection in a conservative district outside of Chicago, told reporters the week after the midterms. “People are uncomfortable with some of the ways [Trump] talks.”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who lost his suburban district outside of Denver to Democrat Jason Crow in November, certainly thinks so.

“The president’s tone is polarizing,” Coffman said the week after the election. “It was very difficult to try and make the case, particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president, to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on President Trump.”

He went on to say that as long as Trump in the White House, winning back the House is going to be a major challenge for Republicans.

“Donald Trump is about Donald Trump, and what Donald Trump is, is he wants to be the center of attention every single day,” Coffman said, reflecting on Republicans’ newfound position in the House minority after the election. “He wants to dominate the news cycle every single day, and good luck trying to get a message out of that.”

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