Midterm Election Recap

November 9, 2018

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • Senate: depending on the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, GOP gains between one and three seats
  • House: new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats with a net of at least 35 conversions
  • Governor: Democrats make significant gains in 36 races, with new party division of 27R and 23D, a new gain of seven seats for Democrats
  • Mississippi: Senate race goes to run-off between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary & former Congressman Mike Espy (D)
  • Georgia Governor: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) declares victory, but race not over


Senate Election Results:  Republicans have held the Senate majority in the election conducted on November 6th. Depending upon the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, the Republican gain will be between one and three seats. Democratic incumbents Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Claire McCaskill (Missouri) were all defeated as was Republican Senator Dean Heller (Nevada).

Alabama:  After Sen. Doug Jones (D) won the controversial Alabama special election in 2017, it was clear he would become the Republicans' number one target in the 2020 regular election. The Senator's decision to oppose Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation heightened his top target status even more. Now, he may draw a very well-known Republican opponent. Departing Attorney General and former US Senator Jeff Sessions confirms that he would consider entering the race to attempt to regain the Senate seat he relinquished to become Attorney General.

Arizona:  The race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Arizona) has yet to be called. More than 460,000 ballots remain uncounted. Rep. Sinema took a small 9,610 vote lead after the first day of counting that included votes not previously tabulated in heavily Democratic Pima County. Prior to this, Rep. McSally held leads of between 15-32,000 votes throughout the original count. Local Republican authorities have filed lawsuits against county clerks in several counties, attempting to ensure that the state adopts uniform procedures for handling questionable mail ballots and those delivered to "emergency voting centers." It is likely that this situation will drag on for days.

Florida:  While the statewide vote count continues to draw closer as more votes are continually counted and controversy arises over the process in Broward County, Senate candidate Rick Scott (R) has accused the Democrats of attempting to "steal" the race and has sued at least one election supervisor. Originally, it appeared that he had won a close victory. In his capacity as Governor, Mr. Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the counting. This outcome is very much in doubt and will likely go on for many days reminiscent of the 2000 Florida recount that decided the presidential contest that proved one of the closest in history. Mr. Scott's opponent in this race is Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Though the margin is greater in the open Governor's race between former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), the outcome of this contest is also now in question.

Mississippi:  The partisan division includes the Republicans winning the Mississippi special election. The race now advances to a November 27th run-off election because neither candidate reached the 50% mark. Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), however, is a heavy favorite to defeat former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D).

Montana:  The Montana Senate election proved close as predicted, and now we have a final projection. Sen. Jon Tester (D) has been re-elected to a third term, winning 51.2 - 46.0% with the remainder of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted. Therefore, the numbers are not final, but the quantity of outstanding ballots cannot alter Sen. Tester's lead. Thus, the outcome has been officially declared. The Tester victory guarantees that the Democrats will have at least 46 Senators in the next Congress.


House Election Results:  Democrats successfully took control of the House and when the final nine uncalled races are determined, the new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats meaning that the final gain number will exceed a net 35 conversions.

CA-25:  Though there could be as many as 100,000 votes still to count, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) announced that he is conceding the congressional race to Democratic opponent Katie Hill. It is obvious that the Knight political team has calculated that he cannot make up his current deficit even with the large number of outstanding ballots.

CA-49:  As has been the speculation for months, the San Diego area coastal district long held by retiring Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has now officially flipped to the Democrats. Attorney Mike Levin (D) has defeated Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R), 53.5 - 46.5%, with many more ballots to be added. Though thousands of ballots remain to be counted in each California congressional district, victory projections have been made in now all but five of the state's 53 CDs.

CA-50:  Another of the California contests has been decided. In San Diego County, embattled Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) has officially been re-elected despite his outstanding federal indictment on a multitude of campaign finance charges. Mr. Hunter defeated Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) by a current 54.3 - 45.7% victory margin.

The other indicted or past indicted sitting lawmakers, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), respectively, were both re-elected on Tuesday night.

GA-6:  Democratic challenger Lucy McBath was declared the winner of the contested 6th District race as she built a 2,900 vote lead in late counting. Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who won the seat in a 2017 special election despite having $36 million spent against her, could not hold it in the regular election. She has formally conceded the race to Ms. McBath, so there will be no recount of the eventual final result.

GA-7:  Though the state's 6th District race has now concluded, the adjacent 7th District is still very much undecided. Late counting has eroded Rep. Rob Woodall's (R-Lawrenceville) lead to 890 votes with an unannounced number of ballots outstanding. The Democratic candidate is former state House Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux.

MN-1:  In one of the few Republican conversions of a Democratic seat, GOP businessman Jim Hagedorn (R), whose father served four terms in the US House, defeated Democrat Dan Feehan in another race that has been finally projected. Mr. Hagedorn will succeed Democrat Tim Walz who left the House to run successfully for Governor. The Hagedorn victory margin was a scant 1,312 votes, or 50.2 - 49.8%. This is the second consecutive close election in this southern Minnesota district that covers most of the area on the Iowa border. In 2016, Rep. Walz was re-elected with just a 50.3% margin.

MT-AL:  While a projection was made to give Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester his victory, at-large Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) was also re-elected. Mr. Gianforte leads the race by 24,801 votes with ballots remaining, but he has been declared the victor over former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D). The Gianforte victory percentage spread is 51.2 - 46.0%. The Congressman was originally elected in a 2017 special election, so he has now been elected to his first full term.

NY-22:  Though the outcome in this Upstate New York race is razor-thin, it appears that freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) has been defeated. The race was originally called for state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D), but then the result appeared to be unclear when more ballots were counted. In the end, however, Mr. Brindisi looks to have scored a 1,293 vote win pending further counting and possible individual vote challenges.

WA-3:  In another close contest, four-term Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Vancouver) has been projected as the victor over Democratic candidate Carolyn Long. Washington, like California, allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day, so the counting process can consume days, if not weeks, to complete. It is clear, however, that her 13,000+ vote advantage would hold through the final counting process, hence her projection. The current percentage division is 52.6 - 47.4.

WA-8:  The open Republican 8th District from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring has gone Democratic. Late yesterday, pediatrician Kim Shrier (D) was declared the winner, defeating former statewide candidate and ex-state Senator Dino Rossi (R). Dr. Shrier has a 12,600+ vote lead entering final counting, which is enough to compensate for any gains that Mr. Rossi could see as the vote count progresses. This is Dr. Shrier's first run for public office. With this Republican seat converted to the Democrats it appears the latter party will gain more than 30 seats.


Gubernatorial Election Results:   Democrats made significant gains in the 36 Governor's races held on November 6th. The party converted state houses in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, while Georgia and now Florida appear to be undecided. Republicans converted the Independent-held state house in Alaska. If Georgia and Florida hold for the leading GOP candidate, the new gubernatorial party division will be 27R - 23D, a net gain of seven seats for Democrats.

The Democratic victories in Michigan and Wisconsin have major 2021 redistricting implications, though the GOP did hold both state legislative chambers in each state. Michigan voters appear to have adopted a redistricting commission ballot proposition, but that procedure will undoubtedly be challenged in court. Republicans held the critical gubernatorial position in Ohio, again in a redistricting context, as well as Florida, if the current count holds through the post-election counting process.

Florida:   See Florida Senate above.

Georgia:  Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has declared victory in the Governor's race and resigned his current statewide position. The Democratic nominee, former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D), however, is pursuing all options in the post-election counting process. Under Georgia law, winning candidates must receive majority support. The current vote count, and ballot tabulations are still ongoing, puts Mr. Kemp's percentage at 50.3%. Republicans, however, are confident that his margin will remain about 50%. If Ms. Abrams is right and he drops below 50%, the two candidates will advance to a December 4th run-off election. This situation will continue to remain undecided for the next several days.