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We’re Tracking The Unresolved Midterm Races

UPDATE (Nov. 13, 6:52 p.m., 2018): We’ve updated the text below with the latest news and data. We’ve also removed the Arizona U.S. Senate race,1 California 49th District, Georgia 6th District2 and Washington 8th District,3 which have been called for Democrats, and the Minnesota 1st District4 and North Carolina 9th District,5 which have been called for Republicans. Our original write-ups on those races can be found in the footnotes.


Everyone has voted, the results are in and we know who will control the Senate and the House — but several races remain unresolved. (We warned you this might happen.) As of 6:52 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, news outlets have yet to project winners in 17 races: two for the U.S. Senate, 13 for the U.S. House and two for governor. These races have the potential to meaningfully change the narrative around this election — for example, Democrats could pick up 43 House seats instead of 30, or turn a disappointing showing in the Senate into a draw. Here’s the state of each undecided race — including our best estimate of who might prevail when all is said and done.

Senate

After Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema was declared the winner in Arizona on Monday evening, Republicans’ net gain in the Senate dropped down to one seat, but the likely eventual outcome is a Republican net gain of two, according to our forecast.

In Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson initially appeared to have conceded on election night (his opponent, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, also claimed victory) but reversed course after continued vote-counting in Broward and Palm Beach counties narrowed Scott’s lead to just 0.15 percentage points, or 12,562 votes. That’s important because, under Florida law, any election within half a percentage point margin triggers a machine recount, and then, after that, if an election is within a quarter of a percentage point, it triggers a manual recount (where ballots are retabulated by hand). On Saturday, the secretary of state officially ordered the machine recount. The recount originally was mandated to be completed by Nov. 15, but with some counties claiming it impossible to meet that deadline, a judge has extended Palm Beach’s deadline to Nov. 20 (it’s unclear how this will affect other counties’ timetables). Then, if there’s a hand recount, we may learn if the unusually high number of undervotes in the Senate race in Broward County are the result of a machine error. If so, Nelson may have a shot. If not, Scott is probably safe, as recounts rarely overturn election results.

Finally, as we expected, the special U.S. Senate election in Mississippi will proceed to a runoff on Nov. 27 as none of the candidates secured 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will be a heavy favorite against Democratic former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy thanks to the state’s dark red hue.

House

Of the 13 unresolved House races, Democrats lead or look like they’re in good position in 9 of them. Here’s the full lowdown:

  • Five of the races are in California, where it’s not unusual for close races to still be uncalled even several days after the election. That’s because most people in California vote by mail, and mail ballots only have to be postmarked by Election Day; they can arrive at elections offices as late as three days later and still be counted. Currently, the Democratic candidates lead in the California 10th and 48th districts (in fact, the Associated Press has already called the latter), while the Republican candidates lead in the California 21st, 39th and 45th. However, late-arriving ballots tend to lean Democratic in California, so those GOP leads will probably shrink, if not reverse entirely. (They have already shown signs of shrinking.) Because of this, we’re guessing that Democrats will win all of these districts except the 21st. Republican Rep. David Valadao leads Democrat T.J. Cox 51 percent to 49 percent in that one, but the Associated Press and ABC have both projected a Valadao win. (We still think there’s a narrow path to a Cox victory.)
  • Although some networks have called the Georgia 7th District, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux has not yet conceded. Republican Rep. Rob Woodall has a lead of less than 1,000 votes with about 1,500 provisional ballots left to count in Gwinnett County. On Tuesday, a court also ordered Gwinnett to reconsider around 400 absentee ballots that were rejected because they didn’t have voters’ birthdates.
  • With most of the vote counted in the Maine 2nd District, Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin has declared he received more votes than Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden — but neither received a majority, so Maine’s new system of ranked-choice voting will decide the winner. A computer program will redistribute the votes of the two last-place finishers, independents William Hoar and Tiffany Bond, between Poliquin and Golden based on who was ranked higher on their voters’ ballots. At that point, whoever has a majority of the remaining votes will win the congressional seat. Golden is probably favored in this scenario; both Bond and Hoar indicated in a debate that they would prefer Golden over Poliquin, and exit polls suggest their voters agreed. The counting began on Friday and is expected to conclude on Wednesday. However, on Tuesday, Poliquin filed a lawsuit alleging that ranked-choice voting could be illegal under federal law and is demanding that the counting stop (and he be declared the winner).
  • Democrat Andy Kim declared victory in the New Jersey 3rd District the day after Election Day, but Republican Rep. MacArthur has not yet conceded. As of Tuesday afternoon, Kim led MacArthur by 3,478 votes, with 6,400 provisional ballots still being counted. With many of those provisional ballots from Democratic-leaning Burlington County, MacArthur’s path to victory looks slim.
  • The New Mexico 2nd District was supposedly in the bag for Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell — until last Wednesday night, when absentee ballots from Doña Ana County unexpectedly put Democrat Xochitl Torres Small into a 1-percentage-point lead. That was enough for the AP to call the race, but Herrell has refused to concede.
  • Like in Georgia, some but not all news outlets have called the New York 22nd for Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. However, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney isn’t ready to concede. A technical error was discovered Thursday that narrowed Brindisi’s margin to just 1,293 votes. The counting of 17,000 absentee and military ballots began on Tuesday.
  • In the New York 27th District, Republican Rep. Chris Collins appears to have defeated Democratic Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray. ABC has projected the race, and even McMurray conceded on election night. However, McMurray has now retracted his concession, arguing that 18,000 uncounted ballots could reverse Collins’s almost-3,000 vote lead. State election law requires results to be certified by Dec. 15.
  • It’s been a roller-coaster ride in the Texas 23rd District. Republican Rep. Will Hurd initially declared victory, but then a late spurt of ballots put Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones into the lead. Then an apparent error in the vote tabulations was found, giving Hurd the advantage once more. He currently has a lead of over 1,000 votes, but Ortiz Jones says she will not concede until every vote has been counted.
  • Despite what President Trump said at his Wednesday press conference last week, Republican Rep. Mia Love has not yet lost in the Utah 4th District — she trails Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams by less than a percentage point. Mail ballots continue to be counted across Utah, and on Tuesday, Love nearly erased a McAdams lead that had once stood at more than 3 points. However, there are still about 62,000 votes left to count in Salt Lake County (McAdams’s political base) and 32,000 in Utah County (Love’s base), although not all of them are in the 4th District. (And that doesn’t even include 35,000 provisional ballots.) At least one of the counties (Utah) will not report again until Friday.

Governor

Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis was declared the next governor of Florida on election night, but now the same delay in vote-counting that tightened the Florida Senate race has brought the gubernatorial contest within recount range as well. On Saturday, DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points; therefore, the secretary of state ordered a machine recount. While Gillum has taken back his concession and the AP and ABC have both retracted their projections, this remains a long shot for Democrats. A reversal of a 33,684-vote margin would be unprecedented in modern times.

Finally, the gubernatorial race in Georgia remains uncalled — not because it’s likely Democratic former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams takes the lead, but because Republican former6 Secretary of State Brian Kemp needs to win at least 50 percent plus one vote in order to avoid a rematch with Abrams in a Dec. 4 runoff. Unofficial election results on the state’s website give Kemp 50.3 percent of the vote, but that doesn’t include many absentee and provisional ballots. And on Monday, a federal judge ordered that counties re-examine thousands of provisional ballots and forbade the state from finalizing the results before Friday at 5 p.m. Abrams7 would need to net almost 21,000 votes in order to deny Kemp a majority.


We’ll update this post on a semi-regular basis with the latest news and numbers from these races.

CORRECTION (Nov. 9, 2018, 6 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misidentified the Florida county of Palm Beach as West Palm.

Footnotes

  1. In Arizona, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has a roughly 1.5-percentage-point lead over Republican Rep. Martha McSally. The state is issuing updated vote totals at 5 p.m. local time every day, and so far, Sinema has gained with every update; McSally needs to reverse that trend — and soon — or else this race is over.

  2. After hosting the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history in 2017, the Georgia 6th District was once again closely fought in 2018. And we mean closely — according to the Georgia secretary of state, Democrat Lucy McBath leads Republican Rep. Karen Handel by less than 1 percentage point. McBath has declared victory, while Handel is making noise about requesting a recount. Even with some provisional and overseas ballots outstanding, though, she has an improbable road to a comeback.

  3. Finally, the Washington 8th District unsurprisingly remains undecided. Why? Washington votes almost entirely by mail and reports its election results in waves as the ballots arrive — and they can remain incomplete for a week or more. As of Wednesday evening, Democrat Kim Schrier leads Republican former state Sen. Dino Rossi 53 percent to 47 percent, but that is very much subject to change.

  4. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Jim Hagedorn held a slim lead over Democrat Dan Feehan in the Minnesota 1st District. If he holds on, it will be the second seat that Republicans flipped from blue to red this year. The Associated Press has called the race for Hagedorn — and he is definitely favored — but Feehan has not yet conceded.

  5. In the North Carolina 9th District, Republican Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by less than 2,000 votes with all precincts reporting. That was well within the necessary range to request a recount, but on Wednesday afternoon, McCready conceded the race. However, media outlets are being more cautious.

  6. He resigned on Nov. 8.

  7. Or Libertarian candidate Ted Metz.

Nathaniel Rakich is FiveThirtyEight’s elections analyst.

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