Although most members of Congress seek reelection as their terms end, a few do not as new opportunities arise or they seek more time with their families. Others leave office before their terms expire, prompted by new opportunities or by necessity.
The charts below compare the number of resignations, retirement announcements, and members seeking new offices between the 111th and 112th Congresses in total and by party. Included are the number of members who lost primary or general elections.
At present, the 112th is on pace to have more exits than the last Congress, but that rate will likely slow now that the election year is under way. Resignations, of course, depend on job offers—and often scandal.
The big unknown, however, is how many members won't win renomination and how many won't be reelected. Democrats, particularly those in the House, bore the brunt of election losses in 2010. Which party—if either—will face a similar situation this year is an open question.