Looking Past Florida And Georgia

[ Posted Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 – 18:02 UTC ]

We're over a week from Election Day, and the vote-counting still ongoing. Currently, three races are commanding the media's attention, but there are plenty of other interesting things happening out there if you look beyond just Florida and Georgia. Because while the Election Day news for Democrats was good, it has only grown better and better since then -- even if few in the media are still paying attention. Today I thought it'd be worth it to take a look at all the other late election returns, which might be classified not so much as a blue tsunami (crashing ashore quickly) but rather as a sort of blue high tide -- a slow rise over time that eventually hits a high-water mark. Because that's exactly what is happening out there.

Before I delve into the numbers, I should mention two things. The first is that I've been following the results on the New York Times election webpage, but I believe they are actually getting their numbers from the Associated Press. The second is that in comparing what happened on Election Night to what has happened since, I am relying solely on my own memory of events, so I could be wrong about some of what happened (in specific, the timing of when things happened). My apologies in advance if memory does not serve correctly.

The current state of affairs is that Democrats keep doing better and better as time goes by. There were, to the best of my memory, 18 House races left undecided last Wednesday morning. There are now only eight races which have not been called yet. The current tally is that Democrats have successfully flipped a net gain of 34 House seats, giving them (so far) a total of 229 seats in the incoming House. Republicans have only held onto 198 seats.

Before we get to the uncalled races, let's take a look at the races that have been called since last Tuesday night. Normally, the party which is in the lead after the first round of ballot-counting usually winds up winning the seat. It's pretty rare that flips happen after Election Night, but they do occasionally occur. This time around, there are only two possible seats which may eventually flip from an Election Night Democratic lead to an eventual Republican win. The first was Minnesota's first district (MN-1), which is where my memory is a little fuzzy, I have to admit. I believe that on Election Night it was leaning Democratic and was subsequently called for the Republican, but I could be remembering the timing wrong (this may have actually all happened late on Election Night itself, in other words). The only other candidate left for a surprise Republican victory is in the 23rd district in Texas. But TX-23 is still officially undecided, even though the Republican is currently holding on to a slim lead. So it could conceivably flip back again.

Over on the Democratic side, the numbers are much more impressive. At least six races have flipped in the late counting, and at least one additional race may eventually wind up in the Democratic column as well. All seven of these races come from four states: Georgia (GA-6), New Jersey (NJ-3), New Mexico (NM-2), and California (CA-10, CA-48, CA-49, and possibly CA-45 as well). The icing on this particular cake, though, came from the Senate, where Kyrsten Sinema came from behind to win the Arizona Senate race by roughly 38,000 votes.

When you look at the overall picture, the gains were even more stark for the Democrats. Republicans managed to flip three House seats overall, but only in two states -- Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, this was partly because a new redistricting map was imposed after the Republican-gerrymandered one was thrown out by the state's supreme court. Republicans picked up one of these new districts, while Democrats picked up the one next door, meaning that both victories were likely the result of the new district lines, and nothing more. This would leave the Republicans with only two authentically-successful flips, both in the same state.

Democrats, on the other hand, flipped at least a single House district in at least 19 states so far. They may add to this total when the outstanding races in Utah and Maine are finalized, too. That is a pretty stark difference to the Republican record, you've got to admit. Democrats flipped House districts in deep red states like Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as in blue states like California and New Jersey. Democrats swept the board in New Mexico, which will now no longer have a single House member from the GOP. They came close to doing so in New Jersey and Iowa as well.

As I mentioned, the Democrats have already picked up a net gain of 34 seats. This total could go higher, though, when the last eight races are called. Currently, the Democrats lead outright in three of these races: in California (CA-45), in New York (NY-22), and in Utah (UT-4). Republicans currently lead in five races: in California (CA-39), in Maine (ME-2), in Georgia (GA-7), in New York (NY-27), and in Texas (TX-23). But of these races at least two might still flip to the Democrats. The California race is down to a gap of fewer than 1,000 votes, and the Maine race is in a class by itself. Maine is the first state to use instant-runoff voting for House seats, and while the Republican won the first round by around 1,900 votes, there will likely be two more rounds of tallying before a winner is declared. There were four candidates in the race, including two Independents. One of the Independents only got about 2,000 votes, but the other one got 16,500. The second and third choices of those voters will determine the winner of the race, but it's a pretty safe bet that most of these ranked-choice votes will probably go to the challenger (the Republican candidate is the incumbent). And there's only a deficit of 1,900 votes to make up, so with over 18,000 votes still up for grabs, this is entirely possible. If Democrats pick up all three races where they are currently ahead, they will wind up with a total of 232 House seats, for a 37-seat pickup. If one of the other two possible races flips, these numbers will both go up by one, and if both of them flip, Democrats could wind up with 234 seats for a 39-seat pickup.

Or, to put it another way, this was indeed a blue wave election. It's hard to call a reversal of that magnitude anything else, really.

On top of the impressive and historic gains in the House, Democrats also picked up at least seven governors' races, bringing the two parties a lot closer to parity among all 50 states. In the Senate, Republicans currently have only picked up a net of one seat, after flipping three states (North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri) while losing in two others (Nevada and Arizona). This net gain would not be affected if Republicans win the runoff for the Mississippi Senate seat (in a few weeks), but would be increased by one if they manage to secure a win in the Florida Senate race. Still, Democrats holding Republicans to only a two-seat pickup is also pretty impressive, especially when you consider it wasn't all that long ago the GOP was dreaming of picking up nine seats to secure a filibuster-proof majority. This, obviously, didn't even come close to happening.

The bad news, from where I'm sitting, is that Democrats are probably going to lose the three big races everyone is now concentrating on. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams will be lucky to even force a runoff election. Even if she does, she is currently down by almost 60,000 votes, which would be incredibly hard to make up in a runoff situation. In Florida, there is an outside chance that Democratic Senator Bill Nelson will squeak out a win when all the votes are counted (that's if all the votes get counted -- always an open question, in Florida), but he's got over 10,000 votes to make up. That's a lot, and recounts don't usually move the needle by this order of magnitude. The chances for a win in the governor's race is even more remote, as the gap is even wider. So Democrats should be very cautious about raising their expectations for these three races all that high, because the likelihood of victory in any one of them isn't all that great.

But -- just like on Election Night -- don't let the media fool you into thinking things are worse for Democrats than they actually are. Even if Democrats eventually lose all three races in Florida and Georgia, they still continue to pick up close House races at the same time. My best guess is that Democrats will wind up with 233 House seats for a total midterm pickup of 38 seats. This would be 15 seats over the minimum majority of 218. It would give them a 31-seat advantage over the Republicans (who would wind up with 202 seats). On Election Night, the numbers were a lot lower, showing Democrats only winning a little over 220 seats -- which wasn't all that impressive. But 233 seats is a lot more noteworthy, and will give the Democrats a much more comfortable buffer after they take control in January. Perception is one thing -- losses in the Georgia and Florida recounts will be disappointing if they come to pass -- but reality is another. And the reality is that the Democratic blue wave did indeed arrive, it was just rather slow in coming ashore. Keep this in mind, while the Florida and Georgia dramas play out.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


10 Comments on “Looking Past Florida And Georgia”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    the real question in florida is which candidates support key lime pie.

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:

    The California race is down to a gap of fewer than 1,000 votes.

    Yes, sir, and as I type this, the race in CA-39 is now almost down to a 100-vote lead for the Republican Young Kim, and she is their remaining hope of having a GOP congressional member-elect who isn't a Caucasian male.

    Oh, wait... my bad; there is one (1) white female in there; if Young Kim can't hang onto her ~100-vote lead in CA-39, Miss West Virginia will have her work cut out for her in representing the incoming "diversity" of the Trumpublican GOP.

    Note to Trumpublicans: If your Party is becoming less diverse in a country that is becoming exactly the opposite, that's the kind of "winning" your opponent can build a rock solid future on.

    Yes, sir, the pendulum always swings back; do be careful that it doesn't smack you square in the face because you fell for the utter nonsensical fearmongering yet transparent rhetoric of the right-wing talking heads and con artistry of the Orange Worship Cult of Personality that the majority of the country could see right straight through.

    Trump's idea of "winning" is declaring the midterms "very close to complete victory" and then subsequently spending the following days hiding in his hotel room and tweeting victim-blaming insults regarding the raging fires in California rather than going to the cemetery to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country... but in his defense, it was raining, he doesn't like getting that thing on his head wet, and he had the "sads" worrying about what Bobby Three Sticks and the 116th Congress was planning for his future because of his "very close to complete victory." :)

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:


    the real question in florida is which candidates support key lime pie.

    It truly is of the utmost importance; they don't call it "Key" lime pie for nothing, you know. ;)

  4. [4] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Yeah, well okay, it was a wave. Eventually.

    Still, I think that we have to do even BETTER to beat out the Trump cotton-heads in 2020.

    Hearing a disturbing amount of ageism coming from our liberal caucus vis Pelosi. Can't succeed a Ryan with a Ryan: are they TRYING to make American history harder for kids to learn in the future? Bad enough that they'll have to keep straight two Bushes and two Clintons.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Looking past Florida and Georgia is a start.

    Now try looking past Big Money Democrats and Republicans.

    "... all your children are poor unfortunate victims of systems beyond your control.
    A plague upon your ignorance that keeps them from the truth they deserve."
    -Frank Zappa
    from We're Only in it for the Money

  6. [6] 
    John M wrote:

    [2] Kick

    "Trump's idea of "winning" is declaring the midterms "very close to complete victory" and then subsequently spending the following days hiding in his hotel room and tweeting..."

    Oh, don't forget the fact that some of those tweets were him raging about election "fraud" in Florida, even though the Republican candidates he supported were still ahead and "winning" their respective elections, as even the recounts were going their way. :-)

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:


    "In Georgia, Stacey Abrams will be lucky to even force a runoff election. Even if she does, she is currently down by almost 60,000 votes, which would be incredibly hard to make up in a runoff situation."

    True. But I would not discount it. Voter fatigue is a real thing. It would depend on who would be more likely to come out and vote a second time. Fired up Trump voters, or fired up Stacey Abrams voters?

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    It's become increasingly clear to me that the '18 election was a decisive political victory for the Democrats. Not a complete victory by any means, but taking backing the House of Representatives is basically taking a strategic hill...and just when it's most needed (think Mueller investigation).

    Whether the Democrats effectively exploit their victory is not a given, but Trump is clearly in a morose panic, and it's not hard to see why. Subpoena power is a lot of power. Trump has effectively lost his "stealth technology." Trump's inner sanctum and records are now on The House's radar, and by extension, the Public's radar via the power of the press. Donny Two Scoops is about be the subject of a LOT more scoops, and they won't be vanilla ice cream.

    You can already see more White House staff beginning to melting to melt away, yet again. Still, I think this shake-out is different. Trump is probably "thinking" what the Wicked Witch of the West said.

    "I’m melting, melting! Who would have thought a little brat like you could destroy such beautiful wickedness."

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    peach pie for georgia, key lime pie for florida, mud pie for both BCPs.

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:

    The Democrats just flipped ME-2.

    This calls for pie... and not just any pie, mind you,
    but a nice Maine Wild Blueberry pie will do. :)

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