At long last, that’s a wrap
More than 144 hours after it started, we are wrapping up our election-night live blog. But never fear! Our coverage will continue on a new live blog dedicated to tracking unresolved races. Here’s what happened in the 2022 midterms — and what is still to come.
Democrats managed to hold onto control of the Senate by winning at least 50 seats, with the possibility of hitting 51 if Raphael Warnock wins the Georgia runoff on Dec. 6. The three other highly endangered Democratic incumbents going into the cycle — Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan — all won. Democrat John Fetterman even managed to flip Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat from red to blue. Other than Georgia, there is only one seat left unresolved in the chamber: Alaska’s, where ranked-choice voting will determine whether Lisa Murkowski or Kelly Tshibaka will head to Washington.
At this moment, we still don’t have an official projection in the House, but it seems likely that Republicans will win it by the barest margin — maybe with as few as 218 seats. That would be a big deal for the federal government, as Democrats would no longer have full control and Republicans would be able to launch countless investigations into Democratic conduct. But it would also be a major underperformance for the opposition party in a midterm year with an unpopular president.
Finally, Democrats had an unambiguously good election on the state level. They gained at least one governor on net, picking up Maryland and Massachusetts but losing Nevada. (The gubernatorial race in Arizona is still unresolved, but Katie Hobbs currently leads Kari Lake, so this could be yet another Democratic flip.) They also won all six secretary of state elections where a Republican who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election was seeking to be the top election official in a 2024 swing state. Democrats also took full control of both the Michigan and Minnesota state governments by flipping their state legislatures. And they still have a chance to flip the New Hampshire and Pennsylvania statehouses, too.
I’ve been working for this website for nearly a decade, and this election made me think heretical thoughts again. Namely, that all the polls and forecast stuff is really beside the point in the end, a way to kill time before the real show arrives. It is so much more interesting to analyze what voters did than guess at what they might do.
I am not some apostate who is saying polls don’t matter — they tell us a ton about what might happen, and they can shape strategy in ways that affect what does happen. But the media engages with those polls to entertain its audience’s anxiety, not divine its country’s mood. (Surely, we are not entirely innocent on that, either.) A healthy democracy discusses the empirical signs of where the wind is blowing but recognizes that wind shifts all the time. And when we do know where it’s blown, journalists have to get dirty and jump in the leaf piles left behind. The real work is just beginning.
We are at a really crucial and tentative moment for democracy in America, and I know that sounds dramatic, but I think it’s true. 2020 opened up a Pandora’s Box of threats to the electoral system. This midterm, in the most crucial races, voters voted to reject those threats. Just one secretary of state candidate who fully denied the results of the 2020 election won his race — Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who called the 2020 election “clearly rigged.” At the same time, more than 100 members of Congress who refused to accept the results of the last national democratic election were elected, or reelected, and the specter of election fraud continues to loom (protestors supporting Republican Arizona governor candidate and election denier Kari Lake protested outside the Maricopa County elections building on the weekend).
Yet we didn’t see anywhere near the fervor of election denialism that swept the country in 2020. Is that because it was a midterm? Because Trump wasn’t on the ticket? Or because Americans who believed Trump’s false claims have started to move on? I’m not sure we know the answer yet, but I’m hopeful that 2020 will go down as a just one of many bruises to American democracy, rather than the beginning of an ongoing battle to secure it.
I guess I have quite a few, disjointed final thoughts.
- First, the obvious: The Dobbs decision will go down in history as a midterm-altering event, alongside the war on terror in 2002 and the Clinton impeachment in 1998.
- This election showed why you should rely on polls (which pointed to this close outcome) over vibes (which predicted a Republican landslide).
- Relatedly, this election proved what we have been saying for years: Just because the polls had a Republican bias in 2016 and 2020 doesn’t mean they will have a Republican bias going forward. The polls were quite good this year, especially gold-standard nonpartisan polls.
- I’m not quite sure how to characterize the likely outcome in the House (should Republicans be happy or sad?), but I do know that Democrats had an unambiguously good election on the state level (flipping multiple state legislatures) and that should get more attention.
- When the House is as close as it looks like it will be, you can credibly claim that literally anything cost Democrats the House. Redistricting. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s weak coattails. The DCCC’s decision to triage certain seats. It’s choose your own adventure.
The projection in Nevada has put Democrats at 50 seats, which ensures them a majority at the start of the 118th Congress in January thanks to Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote. With that projection, two Senate seats remain up in the air: Georgia, where there’s a runoff on Dec. 6 that will give Democrats a chance at a 51st seat, and Alaska, where it remains to be seen which of two Alaska Republicans will claim victory in the state’s ranked-choice voting process: Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Kelly Tshibaka, Murkowski’s Trump-backed and principal challenger. Of course, 18 House seats — and the chamber as a whole — also don’t yet have a projection.
ABC News is reporting that Catherine Cortez Masto is projected to win Nevada’s Senate race, defeating Republican Adam Laxalt. That gives Democrats 50 seats and a Senate majority with Vice President Harris’s vote, regardless of what happens in the Georgia’s Senate runoff in December. This projection comes as Clark County (Las Vegas) reported about a batch of 23,000 newly-tallied votes, which Cortez Masto won 60.7 percent to 35.5 percent. This report gave Cortez Masto a statewide lead of 48.7 percent to 48.2 percent — or about 5,000 votes — with 96 percent of the expected vote reporting.
Maricopa County has updated its vote counts with a batch of about 85,000 votes, which has ramifications for a few races that we’re watching in the Grand Canyon State. In the governor’s race, Lake won this batch 52 percent to 48 percent over Hobbs, which reduced Hobbs’s statewide edge just a bit: Hobbs now leads 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent with 88 percent of the expected vote reporting. Per ABC News estimates, around 325,000 votes are yet to be tallied in Arizona, which means Lake needs to win about 55 percent of those votes to catch Hobbs. That means she’s going to need to do better than she did in this latest batch.
In Arizona’s attorney general’s race, meanwhile, Republican Abraham Hamadeh also carried this batch 52 percent to 48 percent against Democrat Kris Mayes. But Mayes still leads, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent. And in Arizona’s 1st District, a seat that’s entirely in Maricopa, Republican Rep. David Schweikert won 55 percent of the 17,000 votes that were added to the seat’s total with this update. That leaves Democrat Jevin Hodge with a 0.8-percentage-point lead, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, with 90 percent of the expected vote reporting. Arizona has a Grand Canyon full of tight races, it seems (see our earlier post on the 6th District, too).
Just to emphasize how unlikely that Democratic pickup in Washington’s 3rd District was, our midterm forecast gave Gluesenkamp Pérez just a 2-in-100 shot of defeating Kent. That is the upset of the cycle thus far. While Kent always seemed likely to be a weaker GOP candidate than Herrera Beutler, a Republican losing an R+9 seat is highly unusual in a midterm when Democrats control the White House.
Aaaaand right after I posted that update from Washington’s 3rd District, ABC News reported that Gluesenkamp Pérez is projected to defeat Kent to flip this seat for Democrats. At this point, ABC News estimates that Republicans have won 211 seats and Democrats 206 seats. It seems more likely than not Republicans will get to 218 seats and a majority, but Democrats are keeping their hopes alive with this kind of pickup, as they need to win two-thirds of the remaining unprojected contests.
In Arizona, we’ve mostly been waiting on Maricopa County (Phoenix) reports because it’ll likely make up around 60 percent of the final statewide vote in Arizona. But Pima County, which provides roughly 15 percent of the statewide vote, is bluer and also makes up about three-quarters of the very competitive 6th District. Well, Pima reported almost 20,000 newly tabulated votes just a few minutes ago and, perhaps unsurprisingly, those votes helped Democrats. In the governor’s race, the batch went about 64 percent to 36 percent for Hobbs over Lake, helping her overall statewide advantage tick up slightly: Hobbs now leads 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent, with 85 percent of the expected vote reporting.
In the 6th District race, meanwhile, Republican Juan Ciscomani still leads Democrat Kirsten Engel, but Engel won the batch of about 12,000 votes that were in the district 56 percent to 44 percent, and she now trails Ciscomani by only 0.5 percentage points, 50.2 percent to 49.7 percent, with 91 percent of the expected vote reporting. Should Engel catch Ciscomani and defeat him, it would rank as one of the biggest upsets according to our forecast, as Ciscomani had a 93-in-100 chance of winning.
What a night! So many projections! Elections are a hell of a drug.
We think that’s it for major updates today. Tomorrow could be a decisive day for the Senate, though, so we’ll be back with you then. Good night!
Elsewhere in California, Karen Bass took the lead over Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayoral race tonight. She now leads 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, and if the primary is any indication, her lead should only grow from here. Both Bass and Caruso are Democrats, but Bass is the more liberal candidate and enjoys the endorsement of party luminaries like Biden and Harris. Caruso, on the other hand, is more moderate and has a bit of a populist streak, earning him (a billionaire who has self-funded his campaigns) comparisons to Donald Trump.
Although ABC News reported a projection in Arizona’s Senate race, there’s nothing yet for Nevada. Earlier this evening, a new batch of votes from Clark County (Las Vegas) narrowed Laxalt’s lead to just one-tenth of a percentage point. Since then, we’ve gotten more results from light-blue Washoe County (Reno) and solidly red Douglas County. Washoe reported about 11,000 votes, which broke about 55 percent to 44 percent for Cortez Masto, and Douglas County reported about 5,000 votes, which broke 61 percent for Laxalt and 38 percent for Cortez Masto. As a result, we’re back to where we started earlier today, with Laxalt leading 48.5 percent to 48.4 percent. But there aren’t many Douglas County-style vote updates left to help Laxalt, as an estimated 85 percent of the remaining vote will come from Clark and Washoe. Barring a surprise, they will favor Cortez Masto by some margin and likely put her in the lead.
I know someone, somewhere cares about this: ABC News is reporting that Democrat Kevin Mullin is projected to win California’s 15th District. But there was never any doubt a Democrat would win here: Mullin was facing fellow Democrat David Canepa after no Republican advanced from the top-two primary. Mullin will succeed longtime Rep. Jackie Speier, who is retiring after her seventh term comes to an end. This doesn’t have any implications for party control of the House, but it is a victory for much of the California political establishment, which backed Mullin.
With the latest update from Maricopa County, Hobbs also extends her lead over Lake to 31,097 votes (51 percent to 49 percent) in Arizona’s governor race. Crucially, tonight’s batch was roughly as good for her as last night’s, despite containing absentee ballots dropped off on Election Day (as opposed to the weekend before), which Republicans had hoped would be better for them. This race might lean toward Hobbs now, though local ABC reporter Garrett Archer warns that there are still GOP-friendly batches left to count.
ABC News is also reporting that Democrat Adrian Fontes is projected to win the Arizona secretary of state’s race. After that Maricopa update, he leads Republican Mark Finchem, who was involved in efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 win in Arizona and attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, 53 percent to 47 percent. This means election deniers have now lost five secretary of state races (Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico and Vermont) and won one (Wyoming), with one — Nevada — still undecided.
Big news: ABC News is reporting that Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly is projected to win Arizona’s U.S. Senate race. Maricopa County just reported about 74,000 ballots, and they split for Kelly 40,719 votes to 32,318. That stretched Kelly’s statewide lead to 52 percent to 46 percent — too much for Masters to overcome, given what’s left.
That brings Democrats to 49 seats in the next U.S. Senate. They could clinch a majority if one more seat — i.e., Nevada — is projected for them. That could happen as soon as this weekend.
ABC News is also reporting that Democrat Tina Kotek is projected to win Oregon’s governorship. The former state House speaker looked to be in some trouble earlier in the campaign against Republican state Rep. Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson, who previously served in the state legislature as a Democrat. The three-way race appeared to leave open the possibility that Kotek might be the first Democratic candidate to lose an Oregon governor’s race since 1982. But polls taken just ahead of Election Day found Kotek in a better position, and she leads by close to 4 points now as Oregon works to finish its count.
Speaking of Nevada, ABC News is also reporting that Democratic Rep. Susie Lee is projected to win Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. Lee’s victory means that Democrats will control three of the Silver State’s four House seats, helped out by a Democratic-drawn congressional map that made the districts of Lee and Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford somewhat bluer by incorporating Democratic-leaning areas from Democratic Rep. Dina Titus’s solidly blue seat. Titus wasn’t happy about having a competitive seat as a result of these machinations, but in the end all three Democrats won reelection. (Republican Rep. Mark Amodei won reelection in the fourth, and solidly red, seat.)
We talked earlier about the uphill climb Sisolak was facing in the Nevada governor’s race, and it turns out things were too steep for him: ABC News is reporting that Lombardo is projected to win, which comes right on the heels of Sisolak conceding defeat. Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff, was able to run ahead of Laxalt, who appears to be on a downward trajectory in the U.S. Senate race as the final votes are counted. This win marks the sixth victory for Republicans in the past seven gubernatorial elections in Nevada, with Sisolak’s 2018 win being the sole Democratic victory in that time. However, Nevada split quite evenly this year when it came to state offices: The GOP has won the governorship, the lieutenant governorship and controller posts, while Democrats lead in the races for attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer. Given that most outstanding ballots are in Clark and Washoe counties, it would be surprising if Democrats didn’t win those contests, as well as the Senate race.
In Nevada, Clark County reported a batch of around 27,000 votes, and as expected, this group of mostly mail-in ballots went heavily Democratic. In the Senate race, Cortez Masto won 63 percent of this batch to Laxalt’s 33 percent, which cut Cortez Masto’s statewide deficit to a razor-thin 0.1 percentage points — just 798 votes. In the governor’s race, Sisolak won 61 percent of this batch to Lombardo’s 34 percent, which reduced Sisolak’s statewide deficit to 2.2 points (or around 7,300 votes). ABC News now estimates there are close to 70,000 ballots left to tally statewide, and more than 55,000 are in Clark and Washoe counties, so Cortez Masto’s chances of taking the lead look high. But Lombardo has a larger advantage, so he may be able to hold off Sisolak, who’ll need a far greater percentage of the remaining votes than Cortez Masto does to overtake his GOP rival.
According to election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, the crucial county will report its next vote update at 8 p.m. local time (10 p.m. Eastern). If that’s your idea of a hot Friday night, check back with us then. If, on the other hand, you have a life, here’s a roundup of things as they stand on Friday afternoon:
- In Arizona, Kelly leads Masters 52 percent to 46 percent (a margin of 115,073 votes). As we wrote earlier, this race looks very good for Democrats.
- In Nevada, Laxalt leads Cortez Masto 49 percent to 48 percent (a margin of 8,988 votes). Cortez Masto should take the lead here as more mail ballots are counted. If Democrats win both Arizona and Nevada, they will retain control of the Senate regardless of what happens in Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff.
- In Alaska, Tshibaka has 44 percent of first-place votes and Murkowski has 43 percent. We’re expecting vote updates on Nov. 15 and Nov. 18, and then ranked-choice tabulations will determine the winner on Nov. 23.
ABC News estimates that Republicans will win at least 211 seats and Democrats will win at least 204. There are 22 districts that could still go either way:
|Race||Democrat||Republican||Percent reporting||Vote margin||Vote share margin|
- In Arizona, Hobbs leads Lake 51 percent to 49 percent (26,966 votes). The outcome here is still uncertain.
- In Nevada, Lombardo leads Sisolak 50 percent to 47 percent (28,543 votes). Sisolak has an uphill climb here.
- In Oregon, Kotek leads Drazan 47 percent to 43 percent. Other media outlets have declared Kotek the winner, but ABC News is not yet reporting a projection.
- In Alaska, Dunleavy has 52 percent of first-place votes, Gara has 23 percent, Walker has 20 percent and Pierce has 5 percent.
Following Republican Neil Parrott’s concession, ABC News is reporting that Democratic Rep. David Trone is projected to win reelection in Maryland’s 6th District. That brings us to 200 individual districts that have been projected for Democrats, plus two unprojected districts in California (the 15th and 34th) that are Democrat-versus-Democrat. That means Democrats must win 16 of the 22 unprojected Democrat-versus-Republican races to keep their House majority. They currently lead in just 12.
|Race||Democrat||Republican||Percent reporting||Vote margin||Vote share margin|
Yep, Geoffrey, those would be two of the most shocking upsets in the history of our forecast if they come true. Boebert had a 97-in-100 chance of winning, and Kent had a 98-in-100 chance. But these are both races where we got precious little polling, so our forecast was mostly based on the “fundamentals” — which relies heavily on those partisan lean stats you mentioned. But candidate quality seems to have made a big difference here — as it did in many Senate and gubernatorial races — since Boebert and Kent are particularly extreme.
We don’t have projections in these two races, but the most surprising results for me are in Colorado’s 3rd District and Washington’s 3rd District. In the former, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert may hold on, but she’s up by only 0.3 percentage points over Democrat Adam Frisch. And in the latter, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez leads Republican Joe Kent by 2.3 points, with 83 percent of the expected vote reporting. Now, both of the GOP candidates in these districts are flawed — both are big Trump backers, Boebert has made a litany of controversial statements and Kent defeated Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the primary after she’d voted to impeach Trump. But Colorado’s 3rd District is an R+14 seat, so the idea that it could be decided by less than 1 point is wild. And Washington’s 3rd District is an R+9 seat, so the fact Gluesenkamp Perez might actually be in a position to pull this out is striking.
Frankly, both of these surprised me for the same reason that some other Democratic victories surprised me: Historically, the party not in the White House tends to win most of the seats it is defending in midterm cycles (like the 1st District) and a significant number of competitive open seats (like the 13th District).
The fact that we saw a similar upset in Ohio’s 1st District makes me think there is something statewide happening, too, Amelia. Though Tim Ryan — who left the 13th District open when he decided to run for Senate — lost his race to J.D. Vance, having a big name in a major race at the top of the ticket may have had some trickle-down effect for Democrats in these races.
Totally — after redistricting, Ohio’s 1st District became more competitive, but Chabot was still favored to hold onto his seat.
One issue is that this wasn’t Gilbert’s chosen territory, right? She originally planned to run in Ohio’s 9th District, but then she switched to the 13th after the congressional maps were updated in March. That led to accusations from Sykes that Gilbert was a “political opportunist.”
Yep, Kaleigh, this was one of many Democratic upsets in “likely Republican” territory — including another Ohio district, the 1st.
|race||democrat||republican||Percent reporting||Vote Margin||ABC Projection|
|FL-13||Lynn||Paulina Luna||95||R+8.1||✔ R|
|FL-27||Taddeo||Salazar i||82||R+14.6||✔ R|
|IA-1||Bohannan||Miller-Meeks i||89||R+6.9||✔ R|
|IA-2||Mathis||Hinson i||92||R+8.2||✔ R|
|NE-2||Vargas||Bacon i||98||R+4.4||✔ R|
|NM-2||Vasquez||Herrell i||99||D+0.7||✔ D|
|OH-1||Landsman||Chabot i||91||D+4.9||✔ D|
|WI-3||Pfaff||Van Orden||99||R+3.7||✔ R|
That is surprising, Alex! There were also a couple of upsets in Ohio, which ended up being a good state for Democrats. In the 13th District, Republican candidate Madison Gesiotto Gilbert was expected to win — our final forecast gave Gilbert a nearly 4-in-5 chance of winning — but Democrat Emilia Sykes wound up taking the seat. Sykes is a member of the Ohio Legislature and part of a local political dynasty, so she had a lot of local name recognition. But so did Gilbert (she’s married to former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert), and she was a really strong candidate, so I didn’t see this one coming.
I think one could argue Democrats didn’t really stand a chance in TX-15 — regardless of who they ran — because of how the district was redrawn. But I am surprised that these races weren’t closer. In fact, as you mentioned, all of the victors won by very comfortable margins!
Alex, this is a good call. Gonzalez comfortably won by a decent margin, and nearby in the 28th District, fellow Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is up 13 points in a race he also won. Republicans did win Texas’s 15th District, but that was also the reddest of that trio of South Texas seats and had no incumbent defending it after Gonzalez decided to run in the 34th District instead.
I’m actually gonna flip this question a bit, Nathaniel. What stood out to me was the opposite effect in some Texas races (i.e., we expected close calls or toss-ups but one party exceeded expectations). That was definitely the case in the state’s 34th District, where Democrat Vicente Gonzalez beat Republican Mayra Flores by about 9 points, according to ABC News. Of course, this district leans pretty heavily toward Democrats, but I wonder whether this race says anything about Latino voters broadly (or if this is just a super-blue district where Republicans were always going to have an uphill battle).
You may also recall that New York had a real saga when it came to redistricting. The Democrats in the state Legislature drew a map that a court ruled was an extreme partisan gerrymander and struck down. The state court then appointed a neutral expert to draw a new, fair map, which is what was used for this election. Basically, the Democrats got a bit greedy, and instead of getting to draw a modestly favorable map, like a lot of other state legislatures did, the Democrats were stuck with a much more neutral map, which made it fertile ground for GOP gains in a midterm year.
Of course, their weakness could also connect to those issues, as could concern about the cost of living and the lack of reason to worry about the right to an abortion disappearing in New York, given the strong hold Democrats have over the state Legislature.
It also didn’t help Democrats that they didn’t exactly get the same lengthy coattails to grab hold of as they’ve recently gotten from the top of the ticket. In the governor’s race, Hochul was winning by only a single-digit margin — 6 points right now, although that’ll grow because a lot of vote remains to be counted in deep-blue New York City. In the Senate race, Schumer won by 13 points (again, could change) after winning by much larger margins in past elections.
So what happened? For the Long Island seats, this didn’t come completely out of nowhere. As I mentioned before, Republicans did unusually well in a number of local elections last year. According to local media, the issues in those races were property taxes and public safety.
Republican Anthony D’Esposito also won the New York 4th District, which is even bluer than the 3rd. Our forecast had given him just a 22-in-100 chance.
Or Ryan’s fresh face and strong performance as the recent Ulster County executive maybe gave him a better boost in the 18th District than Maloney got in his race, especially considering that, before redistricting, Maloney represented only about 25 percent of the new 17th District.
And he won! In Long Island!
Yeah, Amelia, there are other difficult-to-explain inconsistencies, too. For instance, how did Maloney lose the 17th District, which has a FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of D+7, but Democrat Pat Ryan won next door in the 18th District, which has a partisan lean of D+3? Was Maloney’s status as a national party bigwig actually a detriment to him?
There were a bunch of upsets in New York House races that I am FASCINATED by. Republicans basically swept Long Island, following up on a strong performance in local elections there last year. And they also won some competitive districts upstate — including, of course, Republican Mike Lawler’s victory over incumbent Democrat and DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s 17th District.
There’s lots to unpack here — why Republicans won, why Democrats lost and what this means for control of the House. One thing I find interesting is that the winners are a real mix of hard-right and moderate Republicans. On the one hand, you have Republican George Santos, who ran for the seat on a heavily pro-Trump platform in 2020 and lost then, but this year, after the seat’s incumbent left to unsuccessfully primary Gov. Kathy Hochul, Santos won. And on the other hand, you have Lawler, who has categorically rejected the idea that the 2020 election was stolen.
Looking over some of these House districts that have been projected, there are quite a few surprises on the list. What would you guys say has been the biggest upset/surprise to you so far?
Based on ABC News’s reports and projections in each individual House race, Republicans now have 211 seats to the Democrats’ 199 (this is different from the estimate you see in the top-right corner of our live blog, which is projecting that some as-yet-unprojected races will go Democratic). To reach the magic number of 218 seats for a majority, Republicans need to win seven of the 25 races that have not yet been projected, while Democrats need to win 19 of them. So the GOP has a much smaller hill to climb. But let’s take a look at the remaining races and what tea leaves we can read about the remaining contests.
|Race||Democrat||Republican||Percent reporting||Vote margin||Vote share margin|
Republicans arguably have an edge in four seats that haven’t yet been projected: Arizona’s 6th District, New York’s 22nd District and Oregon’s 5th District. In each, the GOP candidate leads, and what we know about the remaining votes could make it challenging for the Democratic candidates to overtake. We can also add Colorado’s 3rd District to this list, where Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has taken a lead in an extremely tight race, with around 4,000 votes remaining, although the race could go to a recount.
But four other seats look likely or certain to go Democratic. In Nevada’s 3rd District, Rep. Susie Lee leads by 2 points, with mostly just Democratic-leaning mail ballots left to report in Clark County, while Democratic Rep. David Trone’s Republican opponent has conceded in Maryland’s 6th District. And Democrats are assured of two more seats in California (15th and 34th districts), where two Democrats are contesting each seat in the general election thanks to the state’s top-two primary system (these aren’t included in the table above).
Democrats are also somewhat favored in two seats where ranked-choice voting will decide the outcomes. In Maine’s 2nd District, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden leads by 5 points, with 49 percent of the vote, so he can probably win enough second-choice votes from independent Tiffany Bond — after all, he won over more of her voters in 2018. And in Alaska, Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola has 47 percent, with 72 percent of the expected vote reporting. Even if Peltola’s vote share drops, she will likely be in a better position than when she won a special election for this seat in August, when she won 40 percent of first-choice votes.
From there, things are more uncertain. Outside of California, we have three toss-up seats: Arizona’s 1st District, Oregon’s 6th District and Washington’s 3rd District. In Arizona and Oregon, it’s hard to know what the remaining votes’ partisan breakdown will be (80 percent of the expected vote has reported in each). The Washington race should be favorable to the GOP, but Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is up about 2 points against Republican Joe Kent and may have a path to victory, with 83 percent reporting.
Then we have 12 seats in California where too much vote is outstanding to know which way they’ll go, although some seats have a clear partisan lean that makes it unlikely they’ll do something unexpected. For instance, it’s hard to imagine Democratic Rep. Ami Bera losing the D+14 6th District, while Republicans are probably favored in the 3rd and 14th districts, but less than half of the vote has reported in any of these seats. Six incumbents running in competitive races all lead currently, but with tons of votes left to count: Republican Reps. Mike Garcia, Michelle Steel and David Valadao and Democratic Reps. Josh Harder, Mike Levin and Katie Porter. The highly competitive open-seat race in the 13th District is very close, too.
All in all, Republicans may need only some of these California races to hit 218 seats, while Democrats need to win all the toss-ups and overtake incumbents like Valadao and even Garcia to win the House.
Math is hard when you try to put a partisan spin on numbers that might not add up to what you want.
Kari Lake isn’t the only Republican making inaccurate claims about “mathematically” impossible wins. During a conference call for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham claimed “there is no mathematical way” that the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, Adam Laxalt, could lose, according to Politico. Graham added: “If he does, then it’s a lie.” But this isn’t true. As we’ve already noted, Democratic candidate Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto needs to win just 55 percent of the outstanding ballots to beat Laxalt, and there are an estimated 95,000 votes still yet to be counted, largely in areas where Cortez Masto has been winning more than 60 percent of the vote. There’s a very real, mathematically possible way for Cortez Masto to win, and suggesting otherwise is misleading.
Independent Julie Anderson has conceded to Democrat Steve Hobbs in the race for Washington secretary of state. You might not have expected this race to be competitive in a state as blue as Washington, but the Evergreen State hasn’t elected a Democratic secretary of state since 1960 (!). And because Anderson advanced from the primary instead of a partisan Republican, she was able to make it a real race: Hobbs currently leads just 49 percent to 47 percent. But a Republican state senator who has spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election ran a write-in campaign, and right now, write-ins are getting 4 percent of the vote — double Hobbs’s margin of victory. So it’s possible that Republicans still handed this seat to Democrats.
As we continue to wait for more results from Arizona, the Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, has been on a media blitz, complaining about how long the vote counting is taking, saying she is confident she will win and hinting that if she doesn’t, it’s because of fraud. In an interview with conservative radio host Joe Pags, Lake said there was “no mathematical way for Katie Hobbs, with the ballots that are remaining, to win.” That’s not true. To come out on top, Lake needs to win 53 percent of the outstanding ballots, which we haven’t seen in the most recent vote drops (though is definitely possible). Lake has been one of the most vocal election-denying candidates this midterm season. She embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, repeated debunked conspiracy theories and even questioned the legitimacy of her own party’s primary … which she won! Given this pattern and the kind of rhetoric Lake is already sowing, it’s possible she will refuse to concede if she loses, and baselessly blame the loss on fraud. We’ve already seen other election-denying candidates who lost take this same path: Michael Peroutka, the Republican nominee for Maryland attorney general who lost by more than 300,000 votes, has refused to concede and says there were “odd and suspicious incidents” during the election, without providing evidence. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, has also yet to concede to Democrat Josh Shapiro, though Mastriano hasn’t claimed there was fraud, either.