Democrats decried what they said was an abuse of power by Trump. They said Republicans would be judged harshly by voters for not holding Trump accountable. But by Election Day, Democrats were united in embarrassed silence about impeachment, and it was they whom voters held accountable. Even as Trump lost the national vote by 6.1 million, not a single Republican House incumbent who voted against his impeachment was defeated in 2020. Indeed, when the count is complete, it may turn out that not a single Republican House incumbent was defeated at all, full stop.
Voters’ priorities just weren’t what Democrats thought. They didn’t find an agenda of immigration amnesty, the Green New Deal, and pointless coronavirus lockdowns attractive. They probably also wanted to place a check on Biden, whose ambition to blow up the Senate filibuster and pack the Supreme Court would require cooperation from both Houses.
Voters might also have wanted to reward Republicans for hanging in there. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ran a smart race. He recruited attractive candidates, including women and members of racial minorities. Many of them won, such that the Republicans will have twice as many women in the House, 26, as they did on Election Day.