It’s been a few weeks since the midterm election and we’ve observed the impact of the results towards the RV Caucus, while also taking a closer look at the changes with the congressional leadership. This week’s post-election analysis, we unfold the surprising, interesting and important races from election day. Check it out.
Senator Joe Donnelly (D) fell to Republican businessman Mike Braun (R) in Indiana, a state President Trump won by 19 points in 2016. The race received national attention as Donnelly needed to win for Democrats to have a shot at capturing the Senate. Both President Trump and former President Obama visited the state in the weeks leading up to the election, Trump supporting Braun and Obama rallying for Donnelly. In the end, Braun captured 51% of the vote to Donnelly’s 45.1%.
An automatic recount was triggered in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott (R) received 50.1% to incumbent Senator Bill Nelson’s (D) 49.9%. Under Florida law, any race within a .5 percent margin must go to a recount, and within .25 percent it must be a hand recount. Following a recount, allegations of corruption on the part of local officials, and the resignation of Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, Scott beat Nelson by 10,033 votes.
In one of the most surprising turns, Democrat Joe Cunningham defeated Republican Katie Arrington 50.7-49.3% in South Carolina’s 1st District. Arrington, a fervent supporter of President Trump, bested sitting Congressman Mark Sanford in a surprising GOP primary, highlighted by the President’s support of Arrington. President Trump won the district by 13 points in 2016.
Perhaps the largest surprise on election evening occurred in Oklahoma’s 5th District, where former Democratic congressional aide Kendra Horn defeated Republican incumbent Congressman Steve Russell in a district that Republicans have held since 1975. With 100% of precincts reporting, Horn received 50.7% to Russell’s 49.3%. In 2016, President Trump won the district by nearly 14 points and Rep. Russell won by 20 points.
In Georgia’s 6th District, Democratic activist Lucy McBath upset GOP incumbent Representative Karen Handel in a race most outlets predicted would lean Republican. In 2017, Handel defeated Jon Ossoff in a special election following incumbent Tom Price’s confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Many viewed the special election as a test of President Trump’s popularity in white suburban regions. McBath received 50.5% of the vote to Handel’s 49.5%, with all precincts reporting. In 2016, President Trump won the district with 48% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 47%.
Colin Allred (D) defeated House Rules Committee and former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in Texas’ 32nd District, a Dallas suburb. Allred unseated the 10-term Republican Congressman 52.2-45.9%. Allred played professional football as a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans before getting his law degree and serving in the Obama White House and U.S. Attorney’s office. Hillary Clinton won the district by 2 points in 2016.
An interesting scenario played out in Maine’s 2nd District. Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin initially led Democrat Jared Golden. However, Maine uses ranked-choice voting for this race, which meant that the lowest choice candidates were then eliminated, and the votes reallocated to their second choices. Following the reallocation, Golden received enough votes to pull ahead and claim victory. While Poliquin sued to stop the runoff, a judge denied the request and allowed the process to proceed. Poliquin has now filed suit in a federal court in Bangor, challenging the constitutionality of the ranked-choice voting system. Stay tuned! In the meantime, Golden was certified as the winner by the Maine Secretary of State and will be seated with the new Congress in January.
Stay tuned for next week’s Post-Election Analysis when we cover the impact of the election at the state level.