While the presidential election hangs in the balance Wednesday morning with outstanding votes to be counted in six states and no clear winner, House Democrats received an Election Day shock, losing at least six seats and potentially more as the votes continue to be counted.
Projections that Democrats would win a dozen seats in the House of Representatives and oust several Republican incumbents proved “completely wrong,” Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer wrote in their morning newsletter Wednesday.
Both Democrats and Republicans expected the Democratic House majority to expand — it didn’t. Republicans won upset victories over several Democratic incumbents and now could gain as much as 10 seats in a year the media raised the possibility they’d lose as many as 15 or more.
Democrats will retain majority control in the House, but that majority will be smaller as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must grapple with some stinging defeats.
“We have held the House and now, when — after all the votes are counted, we’ll see how much better we will do than that,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We are in a situation where some of the states have just said we’re not counting any more until tomorrow morning and, of course, the West Coast has not chimed in yet, so there’s more to come.”
In Florida, Republicans picked off Democratic incumbents Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Shalala lost her race narrowly in the state’s 27th Congressional District in a rematch with Maria Elvira Salazar, a former television journalist.
In another rematch in New Mexico, Republican Yvette Herrell unseated Rep. Xochitl Torres (D-N.M.) in a contested race where energy policy was a major issue of the campaign. Herrell campaigned strongly on pro-oil and natural gas policies while her Democratic opponent struggled to distance herself from comments made by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden opposing fracking and promising to “transition from the oil industry.”
In South Carolina, freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham lost his race to a Republican challenger, reclaiming the 1st Congressional District for the GOP.
In a major upset, 30-year incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, lost re-election to Republican Michelle Fischbach by a double-digit margin, 53.6% to 39.8%. Peterson, 76, represented a rural part of Minnesota and over his career had a relatively moderate voting record, supporting gun rights and opposing President Donald Trump’s impeachment. President Trump carried his district in Minnesota Tuesday night.
Additionally, Democratic Reps. Max Rose (N.Y.) of Staten Island and Kendra Horn (Okla.) of Oklahoma City lost their bids for re-election. Rose refused to concede to Republican Nicole Malliotakis despite trailing her by 38,000 votes.
“At this moment there are more than 40,000 absentee ballots that were returned, with potentially 10,000 more in the mail,” Rose said Tuesday night.
House Republican Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) celebrated the victories in a statement given to Politico.
“We defied the odds. It’s the night of the Republican women,” he said. “The Democrats never solved one problem in their majority. They promised they would govern differently, and they didn’t.”
Democrats were hopeful that a collapse in support for Trump in suburban areas of the country would translate to congressional victories in districts held by the GOP. They had targeted 10 seats held by Republicans in Texas as potential pick ups. As of this writing, it appears they will flip none of them.
The DNC did flip two Republican-held seats, both in North Carolina. Democrat Kathy Manning defeated Rep. Lee Haywood (R-N.C.) in the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District. Democrat Deborah Ross ousted Rep. Alan Swain (R-N.C.) in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.
According to Politico, Democratic strategists say that as outstanding mail-in votes are counted, remaining races where Republicans seem to be leading strongly will tighten. But if Republicans hang on to their leads, they may pick up as many as 10 seats.