Pollsters and pundits for months told us to expect a Blue Wave on the November 3 general election. That hasn’t materialized. In fact, Republicans had a surprisingly good showing in the House and Senate.
Republicans had to defend 23 Senate seats in 2020, while Democrats had to defend just 12. Based on those numbers, it appeared likely that Republicans would lose the country’s upper chamber, yet it now appears likely they will maintain their majority. There were about 10 Senate races to watch this election, and so far, Republicans have been declared the winner in four and are leading in three others, while the Georgia special election appears headed to a run-off. Democrats so far have won just two of the battleground elections, flipping a seat in Arizona and one in Colorado.
The New York Times Senate election results page listed seven seats as toss-ups. Republicans have either won or are leading in all of them, with the exception of the Georgia runoff, in which a Republican and Democrat will face off again. Republicans have also won five of the six seats the Times listed as leaning GOP, and incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is leading in the last one. Just three seats were labeled as leaning Democrat, and Democrats have won two of the three, but Republican John James currently holds a slim lead in Michigan, though that may not hold.
The polls in many of these races showed close elections, yet in some of these cases, Republicans far outperformed the polls. In South Carolina, for example, polls ahead of the election showed incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) up by just 1-3 points. He ended up winning by 14 points. Jaime Harrison, Graham’s Democrat challenger, raised around $100 million for the race and still lost.
A similar situation played out in Kentucky, where Democrat groups spend about $100 million trying to defeat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) but lost big.
As Politico’s Jake Sherman pointed out, Democrat challenger “Amy McGrath and Jaime Harrison raised a combined $199,004,686 and lost to Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham by a combined 35 points.”
The House has been even better to Republicans when it comes to battleground elections. The Times listed 27 House seats as toss-ups, and Republicans so far have won 13 of them (including four that were flipped from Democrats). Republicans are currently leading in 11 of the remaining 14 races. The Times labeled 26 seats as leaning Republican, and the GOP has so far won 19 of those races and are leading in the remaining seven.
As for the 36 races listed as leaning Democrat, the GOP has won four (including three that it flipped from Democrat) and is leading in an additional 10, though some of those leads are incredibly slim.
Republicans also lead in a couple races labeled as ones Democrats were expected to win easily.
These gains are unlikely to flip the House back to Republican control, but it will certainly make a dent in Democrats’ numbers.
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