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Latest Counts Indicate Who Will Likely Control the House

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It's the Monday after last Tuesday's election, and we still don't have a call on control of the House of Representatives.  The US Senate will remain in Democratic hands, as was determined over the weekend, even if Herschel Walker manages to win the Georgia runoff on December 6th.  Every single Senate incumbent won, in both parties, including an extremely close upset victory for Sen. Cortez Masto in Nevada, over favored Republican Adam Laxalt.  Republican challengers got swept. If Walker bucks the trend early next month, the upper chamber will end up right where it was before well over $1 billion was spent on Senate races this cycle: 50-50.  If Sen. Raphael Warnock prevails, Democrats will have gained one net seat, thanks to the Pennsylvania flip.  This is about as poorly as 2022 could have possibly gone for the GOP, although the 2024 Senate map is very favorable toward them -- at least on paper.  In the aftermath of last week, Republicans should learn a lesson to take absolutely nothing for granted.


It's also looking increasingly possible that Democrats will end up netting two governorships this cycle.  They won back Massachusetts and Maryland with little effort, as standard-issue Democrats trounced 'MAGA' GOP nominees in those deep blue states, where moderate-to-liberal Republican governors were not running again.  Arizona's governorship is on the brink of being lost to Democrats, which would solidify the state's new composition as a purplish-blue state, as Democrats have won the most recent presidential and gubernatorial races there -- plus the last three US Senate races.  In 2022, the Republicans at the top of the ticket (Masters, Lake) have run behind Congressional Republicans in the state, a notable underperformance.  The 'normal' Republican state treasurer is cruising to a fairly easy statewide victory.  Kari Lake could still win, it seems, but those hopes have darkened a bit after recent ballot dumps (if you missed my nonpartisan rant about the insane way some of these states conduct their elections and count their votes, feel free to go back and read it).  The lone GOP pickup of a governorship this year is in Nevada, where the Democratic governor became the only incumbent governor or Senator to have lost anywhere in the country thus far.  We'll see what happens to Warnock and Sen. Lisa Murkowski when all is said and done.

Which brings us to the House of Representatives, where Republicans' fortunes are looking brighter.  Not good, mind you; GOP leadership expected a relatively early declaration of victory on election night, rather than the protracted series of nail-biters they've gotten.  Let's start with some of the bad news, before getting to what appears to be the good news for Republicans.  The GOP has blown very winnable seats in a number of places, including Washington State, where a popular incumbent (who won by double digits in 2020) lost in the primary due to her Trump impeachment vote, and her MAGA-supported challenger has now lost the R+13 district to a Democrat.  In Alaska, Sarah Palin and another Republican have again split up the majority-Republican electorate, very likely allowing the Democrat to win under their new 'ranked choice' system.  Those are a few representative examples of glaringly missed opportunities.  And despite fielding some strong candidates (and some not-so-strong candidates), Republicans have once again been totally shut out in New England House races.


But despite honking some gimmes, and a much stronger than expected night for Democrats overall, House Republicans do appear to be on track to win back the majority and take the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi.  Dave Wasserman looks at the outstanding races and says the Democrats would need a 'miracle' to pull this out, with that narrow avenue closing rapidly.  Barring a truly stunning turn of events, Congress' lower chamber should be flipping red fairly soon:

New York's 22nd District is looking like a likely GOP hold, which would mean that "Dems lost *five* NY seats that voted for Biden by more than the national result in ‘20 - including two that voted for Biden by double digits," per Wasserman. "You can’t really blame that on bad redistricting," he added.  That includes the four gains we covered last week.  In Colorado, firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert almost tanked a seat that was drawn to be more Republican, against an incredibly flawed Democratic challenger -- but she's clinging to a small lead, perhaps ahead of a recount.  In California, Republicans appear to be holding the line in their key races.  As for the two toss-ups Wasserman lists, the encouraging news is that Republicans currently lead in both contests, as of this morning.  The less encouraging news is that under the state's ludicrous and interminable vote-tabulation scheme, neither count is close to being over.  In the 13th District, just 61 percent of the expected votes are in the books.  In the 22nd, that number is 53 percent.  Again, we are almost a week removed from the election.  In terms of the overall picture, this is interesting to consider:


When all the West Coast votes trickle in, I've read that the House GOP will probably end up winning the overall national 'popular' vote (not a real or meaningful metric) by around four percentage points, attracting millions more votes than the Democrats did. But because of the factors Wasserman lists, including red places getting redder and blue places getting bluer, that isn't going to translate into much of a majority at all. When the system hurts Democrats this way, we are treated to furious ravings about how "undemocratic" and "anti-majoritarian" things are. Leftists rail against the US Senate and the electoral college. Don't hold your breath for similar jeremiads under these circumstances. By the way, if you'd told me only that the national House 'popular' vote would land around R+4 prior to the election, I'd have all but guaranteed a red wave.  Yet here we are.  I'll leave you with my response to the notion that a microscopic and dysfunctional GOP House majority may not be worth the trouble.  I disagree:


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