Democrats Take Control of House; Republicans Likely to Gain 2-3 Seats in Senate

November 9, 2018

Democrats will have a majority in the House of Representatives next year in the 116th Congress, with a majority that could be almost as large as the one held by Republicans in the 115th Congress. But Republicans have maintained control of the Senate, with their current 51 seats likely to increase to somewhere from 52-54 seats depending on one runoff and two races still counting.

House. As of the morning of November 9, Democrats have a net gain of 32 seats in races that have been called by the Associated Press. Another 10 seats (all held by the GOP) have not been called and are still counting ballots, and of those seats, Republicans lead in 7, but some of those leads are so narrow that they could yet be overturned as absentee, provisional, and mail-in ballots get counted. A net Democratic gain of 35-40 seats is likely, which would give them 235-240 seats in the House on Opening Day.

Morning of Nov. 9 House Vote
Seats Margin
GOP Started With 240
Called So Far -32
1 CA10 Denham (R) +1,287
2 CA39 OPEN (R) +4,037
3 CA45 Walters (R) +6,233
4 CA48 Rohrabacher (R) -4,756
5 GA07 Woodall (R) +890
6 ME02 Poliquin (R) +1,910
7 NC09 OPEN (R) +1,841
8 NJ03 MacArthur (R) -3,424
9 TX23 Hurd (R) +1,150
10 UT04 Love (R) -7,128
GOP Ends With 208
Which Means Democrats Have 227

No Democratic incumbents, anywhere, lost their bids for re-election to the House. The following Republicans lost (so far): Coffman (R-CO), Curbelo (R-FL), Handel (R-GA), Blum (R-IA), Young (R-IA), Roskam (R-IL), Hultgren (R-IL), Yoder (R-KS), Bishop (R-MI), Lewis (R-MN), Paulsen (R-MN), Lance (R-NJ), Donovan (R-NY), Faso (R-NY), Tenney (R-NY), Russell (R-OK), Rothfus (R-PA), Culberson (R-TX), Sessions (R-TX), Brat (R-VA) and Comstock (R-VA). Comstock, Lewis and Faso were members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In addition, the GOP was beset by retirements, some because the job has become so miserable, others because they saw the writing on the wall (plus several in Pennsylvania because of a late court-ordered redistricting map). Republicans lost these open seats: AZ02, CA49, FL27, MI11, NJ02, NJ11, NM02, PA05, PA06, PA11, PA17, SC01, and WA08. Republicans did pick up three open seats that were previously held by Democrats (MN01, MN08 (which is the old Jim Oberstar seat up in the Iron Range), and PA14).

ETW readers will have particular interest in the Jeff Denham race, as Denham is not only the outgoing chairman of the House Railroads Subcommittee but also a contender for the head GOP slot on the full T&I Committee. His election-night lead was 1,287 votes. But the Modesto Bee reported last night that about 100,000 ballots in that race have not yet been counted – and, considering that only 112,115 ballots have been tallied so far, even a modest shift in the R vs D percentage of the uncounted ballots would be enough to flip that race.

The Bee says that the counting could take weeks, and that uncertainty will likely handicap Denham’s bid to become the ranking member of the T&I Committee– a decision that the Republican Steering Committee is expected to make about one month from now.

Senate. The GOP went into the elections holding a narrow Senate majority of 51 seats. So far, they have picked up a net two seats, defeating Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) while losing incumbent Dean Heller (R-NV). Three races remain undecided.

  • Arizona. Hundreds of thousands of ballots were still being counted yesterday, most from Maricopa County, and last night saw Kristen Sinema take a lead for the first time in days. As of last night, Cinema was ahead by 9,610 votes in the Republican open seat vacated by Jeff Flake. This race is not over, but if the composition of those Maricopa County ballots stays narrowly pro-Sinema, she will win.
  • Florida. Out of 8.1 million votes cast, incumbent Bill Nelson – the ranking minority member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – currently trails by 15,074 votes. Some ballots in Broward County are still being counted. The current margin is 0.15 percent, and state law requires a mandatory machine recount if a margin is less than 0.5 percent and a mandatory hand recount if a margin is less than 0.25 percent. However, in the Bush v. Gore recount of 2000, the machine recount only resulted in a margin shift of about 1,300 votes, and although a statewide hand recount was never requested or ordered, a subsequent tally by a media consortium concluded that such a recount would not have shifted more than about 2,000 additional votes depending on which “dangling chad” rules were used. Even out of 8 million votes, 15,000 is a lot for a recount to change.
  • Mississippi. The top two finishers in this race – incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former Clinton Administration Cabinet member Mike Espy (D) – are headed to a runoff election on November 27. In a reliably red state, Hyde-Smith only got 41.5 percent of the vote, but this is because another, more conservative Republican got 16.4 percent. The combined GOP total was 57.9 percent, and it is hard to imagine the people who voted against Hyde-Smith because she wasn’t conservative enough then turning around three weeks and voting for Espy.

If the GOP holds Mississippi and Arizona and knocks off Nelson, they will hold 54 seats next year. If they hold Mississippi, lose Arizona and defeat Nelson, they will have 53 seats next year. If they hold Mississippi, lose Arizona and Nelson survives, they will still hold 52 seats. And even if they lose Arizona, Nelson survives, and the GOP somehow manages to lose Mississippi, the GOP will still hold one more seat next year than they do today.

Morning of Nov. 9 Senate GOP Dem Precincts
Seats Pct Pct Reporting Outcome
Seats GOP Starts With 51
Arizona (Open – R) 48.6% 49.1% 100.0%
Florida (Nelson – D) 50.1% 49.9% 100.0% RECOUNT
Indiana (Donnelly – D) +1 51.7% 44.2% 100.0% R PICKUP
Mississippi (Hyde-Smith – R) 41.5% 40.5% 100.0% RUNOFF
Missouri (McCaskilll – D) +1 51.5% 45.5% 100.0% R PICKUP
Montana (Tester – D) 47.0% 52.0% 100.0% D HOLD
Nevada (Heller – R) -1 45.4% 50.4% 100.0% D PICKUP
North Dakota (Heitkamp – D) +1 55.4% 44.6% 100.0% R PICKUP
Tennessee (Open – R) 54.7% 43.9% 100.0% R HOLD
Texas (Cruz – R) 50.9% 48.3% 100.0% R HOLD
West Virginia (Manchin – D) 46.3% 49.5% 100.0% D HOLD
Seats GOP Ends With 53
Could Go As High As 54

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