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    Democrats decisively win back control of the House of Representatives in sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump;  Republicans retain power of Senate thanks to victories in red states




    Americas: United States 

    America Votes:  A Special Report on the mid-term elections in the United States.

    Democrats decisively win back control of the House of Representatives in sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump;  Republicans retain power of Senate thanks to victories in red states 
     
    Summary: 

    Democrats held the generic ballot advantage for the House ahead of mid term elections but the election map favored Republicans in the Senate. The big questions going into the mid-term elections were as folows -- Would Trump's brand of harsh rhetoric bring out the Republican base and boost his party to victory?  Or would Democrats successfully leverage anti-Trump sentiment and win back at least one House of Congress?  

    The answers to these questions on Nov. 6, 2018 were yes on both fronts.  Trump was able to rally the Republican base sufficiently to hold the Senate, and flip Democratic-held seats in "red" states. On the other side of the equation, anti-Trump sentiment bouyed Democratic contenders to victory over long-serving Republicans incumbents in conservative districts.  

    First, in a highly polarized political climate, Trump's support for red state Republicans  boosted their prospects against several incumbent Democrats at the Senate level.  The result was a number of "pick ups" in for Republicans in states like Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Florida, at the time of writing, was likely headed for a recount, while votes in Arizona were still being counted. Democrats were able to hold both West Virginia and Montana, and also flip Nevada.  Mississippi was also set for a run off.  

    On Nov. 7, 2018, the tally was 51 seats for the Republicans,  46 seats for the Democrats, and three seats undeclared. 

    At the end of the proverbial day though, as predicated, Republicans were able to hold the Senate.  As a consequence, Mitch McConnell was positioned to remain in place as Senate Majority Leader. 

    Second, rampant anti-Trump sentiment, along with a slate of particuarly well credentialed and charismatic Democratic candidates, resulted in victory over long-serving Republicans incumbents in conservative districts.  Going into the election, Democrats were at a significant disadvantage and had to flip 23 seats without suffering erosion of their own seat currently-held  That goal was made all the more difficult due to carefully carved  congressional districts intended to faciliate a Republican stranglehold in the lower house of Congress.  Nevertheless, anti-Trump sentiment in suburbs, particularly among college-educated women,  was shifting that natural Republican advantage in key states, such as new York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California, where Democrats successfully flipped several seats.  But Democrats also made gains in unexpected districts including Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.  

    At the time of writing, Democrats had flipped more than sufficient seats from red to blue -- approximately 28.  However, that was not the final total since seats in California were still being counted. On Nov. 7, 2018, the tally was 223 seats for the Democrats to 197 for the Republicans with 15 seats still outstanding. 

    The result was the Democratic take-over of the House of Representatives by a significant and decisive margin, and Nancy Pelosi positioned to become the next House Speaker. 

    See below for report in full.
     
    (Nov. 6, 2018)
     
    Introduction

    Congressional elections in the United States were to be held on Nov. 6, 2018.  At stake would be control over the bicameral Congress on Capitol Hill, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
     
    The United States Senate consists of 100 members who are elected for six-year terms in dual-seat constituencies, with one-third of the seats being contested every two years. 

    The House of Representatives consists of 435 members who are elected for two-year terms in single-seat constituencies. 

    In 2018, 33* of the 100 Senate seats were scheduled to be contested, while all  435 seats in the United States House of Representatives would be contested.

    *Note: This number was increased to 35 seats due to the addition of two seats due to special elections aimed at replacing incumbent Senators who retired before election day.

    Since the start of 2015, following the mid-term elections of 2014, Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has been the Senate Majority Leader.  Since 2016 following the resignation of Democrat Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, also a Democrat, has been the Senate Minority Leader.  

    Since October 2015, following the resignation of Republican John Boehner as the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, also a Republican,  has served in that capacity.  Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who made history in 2006 becoming  the country's first female Speaker of the House, has since 2011 held the post of House Minority Leader. 

    The 2018 Mid Term Elections

    Going into the 2018 elections, Republicans control both chambers.
    Polling data a year ahead of the election gave Democrats the advantage on the generic ballot.  However, that apparent advantage was not a guaranteed translation into key victories capable of flipping either chamber. 

    In the Senate, many Democratic seats up for grabs were in traditionally "red" or conservative Republican states. As such, incumbent Democrats in red states would face natural partisan headwinds in their bids to hold onto power.  Meanwhile, given the partisan inclination in favor of the more conservative option, the effort to flip existing red seats to blue in the Senate would be arduous for Democrats. Consequently, despite some type of generic advantage in polling, Democrats would have to "run the table" figuratively to seize control of the upper legislative chamber. 

    In the House of Representatives, the Democrats would have to overcome the natural advantage enjoyed by Republicans due to gerrymandering to win. Gerrymandering is the process of manipulating boundaries of electoral constituencies in order carve out "safe" districts for incumbents. The structural effect of gerrymandering means that although Democrats  could cumulatively receive a larger vote share  than Republicans on the House map, they could still fall short of winning enough seats to flip the House from red to blue. 

    In effect, a small polling lead on the generic ballot would not be enough for Democrats to mitigate the structural advantages of Republicans to win either chamber.  Democrats would need to an overwhelming polling advantage, matched by an unprecedented turnout, to actually win back one or both chambers.  In effect, they would require a "wave election" of the type they experienced in 2006 to flip either the Senate or the House of Representatives. 

    Overall, the House was generally viewed as a more feasible outcome than the Senate.  Flipping both chambers would seem to be almost out of reach, given the number of seats Democrats would have to defend and flip in the Senate. However, that kind of election climate  existed in 2006 when Democrats defied the odds in that wave election.  

    One wild card was the "Trump" factor.  President Donald Trump was marred by historically poor approval ratings overall although he was highly favored by the Republican base.  It was possible that be holding together his base, Trump could motivate high turnout in the midterms and thus allow them to hold onto power.  It was also possible that Trump's unpopularity among  white women -- a group he won by 53 percent in 2016 -- could prove to be a significant damaging effect on down ballot Republicans.  

    The over-performance of Democrats in a Republican congressional districts in by-elections since 2016 provide a glimpse that certain marginally Republican districts could be vulnerable in the House.  Of particular note are congressional districts generally thought to be Republican, but which Hillary Clinton won in 2016.  Those would be high value targets for Democrats in 2018. 

    The Senate

    The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress and is composed of 100 Senators with 2 Senators elected to represent each of the 50 states. Senators serve 6-year terms, which are staggered such that 1/3 of the seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election every two years. 

    The Senate is currently controlled by the right-leaning Republican Party (R), which holds 51 seats. The centrist and left-leaning Democratic caucus (D) controls 49 seats, which is composed of 47 Democratic Senators and two independent Senators who caucus with the Democrats. The Senate Majority Leader is Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Senate Minority Leader is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

    On Nov. 6, 2018, there are 35 seats up for election where two of these elections are special ones geared to replacing incumbent Senators who retired before election day.

    —BREAKDOWN OF RACES BY COMPETITIVENESS—

    TRUE BLUE

    CALIFORNIA: Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) faces a challenger from the left in the same political party, Kevin de Leon (D), a member of the California State Senate. In all polling, Feinstein enjoys double digit leads over her challenger. California primaries were held on June 5, 2018. The reason both candidates are Democrats is because California law stipulates the top two primary finishers will be the general election candidates regardless of party. Interestingly, Californian Democratic officials endorsed de Leon despite him polling significantly behind Senator Feinstein.

    CONNECTICUT: Incumbent Senator Chris Murphy (D) faces Matthew Corey (R), a businessman and U.S. Navy Veteran. Primary elections were held on Aug. 14, 2018.

    DELAWARE: Incumbent Senator Tom Carper (D) is running for re-election. Primaries will be held on Sept. 6, 2018.

    HAWAII: Incumbent Senator Mazie Hirono (D) faces challenger Ron Curtis (R), a government contractor who has worked for various U.S. government agencies. The primary was held on Aug. 11, 2018. Hirono was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

    MAINE: Incumbent Senator Angus King (I) faces Eric Brakey (R), a member of the Maine Senate, and Zak Ringelstein (D), an entrepreneur. Unlike most U.S. elections where the winner is decided by who holds a plurality of votes, both the primary election (held on June 12, 2018) and the general election are conducted via a ranked choice voting system due to a referendum passed in 2016. If Angus King wins re-election, he is expected to caucus with the Senate Democratic caucus.

    MARYLAND: Incumbent Senator Ben Cardin (D) is running for a third term and will face Tony Campbell (R), a faculty member of Towson University. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning ran as a challenger in the Democratic primary, but only garnered 5.7% of the vote to Cardin’s 80.4%. Tony Campbell garnered 29.2% of the vote in a wide field. Primaries were held on June 26, 2018.

    MASSACHUSETTS: Incumbent Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) is running for a second term where primaries will be held on Sept. 4, 2018.

    MICHIGAN: Incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) is running to seek a fourth term and faces John James (R), a businessman and veteran of the Iraq War. John James won his primary on Aug. 7, 2018.

    MINNESOTA: Incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) will face Jim Newberger (R), a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who overwhelmingly won his primary on Aug. 14, 2018.

    MINNESOTA (SPECIAL): Senator Al Franken (D) resigned effective Jan. 2, 2018, due to pressure to resign from members of his party based on allegations of sexual misconduct. Governor Mark Dayton (D) appointed Tina Smith (D), then the Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, on Dec. 13, 2017, to fill his seat. She was also a candidate in the Democratic primary, and overwhelming bested her opponent, Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s administration who decided to run in the Democratic primary. Smith faces Karin Housley (R), a member of the Minnesota Senate, in the general. She garnered 62% in the Republican primary. The primary elections were held on Aug. 14, 2018.

    NEW JERSEY: Incumbent Senator Bob Menendez (D) is running for reelection to a third term and faces Bob Hugin (R), a former executive chairman of Celgene Corporation. Hugin garnered an overwhelming 75.1% of the vote in the Republican primary held on June 5, 2018. Menendez obtained 62.3% of the Democratic primary vote after being challenged by Lisa McCormick (D), an activist and candidate for Union County Clerk in 2010.

    NEW MEXICO: Incumbent Senator Martin Heinrich (D) faces Mick Rich (R), a businessman, and Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party candidate in 2012 and 2016. Primary elections were held on June 5, 2018.

    NEW YORK: Incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) faces Chele Farley (R), a private equity executive. Both individuals ran uncontested in their primaries.

    OHIO: Incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D) faces Jim Renacci (R), a U.S. Representative of Ohio’s 16th congressional district. Primary elections were held on May 8, 2018, where Brown ran uncontested and Renacci won 47.4% of the Republican primary vote.

    PENNSYLVANIA: Incumbent Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D) is seeking reelection for a third term and faces Lou Barletta (R), a US Representative of Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district. In primary elections that were held May 15, 2018, Casey Jr. ran uncontested in the Democratic primary and Barletta garnered 63.3% of the Republican primary vote.

    RHODE ISLAND: Incumbent Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) is running to seek a third term. Primary elections will be held on Sept. 12, 2018.

    VERMONT: Incumbent Senator Bernie Sanders (I) is running for re-election to a third term. He overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary on Aug. 14, 2018, garnering 94.4% of the vote, but will reject the nomination and run as an independent in the general. He is expected to continuing caucusing with Senate Democrats if he wins the general election. He faces H. Brooke Paige (R), a former CEO of Remmington News Service, in the general election.

    VIRGINIA: Incumbent Senator Tim Kaine (D) is seeking a second term and faces Corey Stewart (R), Chair of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia. While this race is classified as true blue, it is remarkable given the controversies surrounding the challenger. Stewart has a record of being staunchly for the Confederate flag and against the removal of Confederate monuments. His rhetoric is also vehemently anti-undocumented immigration. Primary elections were held on June 12, 2018.

    WASHINGTON: Incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell (D) is seeking a fourth term and faces Susan Hutchison (R), a former chair of the Washington State Republican Party. They were the top two finishers in a blanket primary where voters are not required to affiliate with any particular party and may vote for any candidate on the ballot. The blanket primary occurred on Aug. 7, 2018. 

    WISCONSIN: Incumbent Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) faces Leah Vukmir (R), a member of the Wisconsin Senate and nurse. Baldwin ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and Vukmir won with 48.9% of the vote in primary elections held on Aug. 14, 2018.

    LEAN (LIGHT) BLUE

    MONTANA: Incumbent Senator Jon Tester (D) is seeking re-election to a third term and faces Matt Rosendale (R), an Auditor of Montana who won the GOP primary with 33.8% of the vote. Tester ran uncontested in the Democratic primary. Primary elections were held on June 5, 2018.

    WEST VIRGINIA: Incumbent Senator Joe Manchin (D) is seeking re-election for a second term and faces Patrick Morrisey (R), the Attorney General of West Virginia, in the general election. Manchin faces an extraordinarily delicate balance; West Virginia overwhelmingly has gone for Republican presidential candidates, and went for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 40+ percentage point margin. But Manchin was able to win 60% of the vote in his 2012 election. For these reasons, he was one of three Democratic Senators who helped confirm Trump’s pick Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which drew significant ire from the left. This resulted in a primary challenge from the left by Paula Jean Swearengin (D), but he was able to easily fend it off and won 69.8% of the primary vote. Primary elections were held on May 8, 2018.

    TOSSUP STATES

    ARIZONA: Jeff Flake (R) is the current Senator of Arizona, but he announced his retirement and is not seeking re-election. Kyrsten Sinema (D) is a U.S. representative of the 9th Congressional district of Arizona was set to face Martha McSally (R),  a U.S. Representative of the 2nd congressional district of Arizona. Polls show a close race but with a small edge for Sinema.

    FLORIDA: Incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D) is  up against Rick Scott (R), the current governor of Florida. Polls indicate a close race; a few months prior to the election, Scott had the edge.  But in the weeks leading up to the election, Nelson appeared to have closed the gap.  Nelson could also benefit from being on the same ticket as Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor who was proving to be popular. 

    INDIANA: Incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly (D) is up against Mike Braun (R), a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who resigned in order to run for Senate and won his primary on May 8, 2018. Given that Donnelly was a vote to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, his campaign will be walking a fine line between appealing to swing voters and ensuring the Democratic base is energized.

    MISSOURI: Incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D) is up against Josh Hawley (R), who is a currently the Attorney General of Missouri and won his primary on Aug. 7, 2018.  Polls indicate a dead heat. 

    NEVADA: Incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R) faces a challenge from Jacky Rosen (D), who is currently a U.S. representative of Nevada’s 3rd congressional district. Nevada is the only state with an incumbent Republican Senator being challenged in a state that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D) won in 2016.  Heller held on to win a narrow re-election victory in 2012 -- a bad year for Republicans.  Thus the conventional wisdom was that he could once again defy the odds.  However, strong early voting patterns for Democrats in Clark and Washoe counties could redound to the benefit of Rosen and suggest a slight edge for her. 

    NORTH DAKOTA: Incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) is being challenged by Kevin Cramer (R), a U.S. Representative of North Dakota’s at-large congressional district. He easily won his primary on June 12, 2018. Of relevance is that Heitkamp is one of three Senators to have voted to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, which reflects the delicate balance she strikes between reaching out to swing voters without alienating the Democratic base.  Polling data suggest Heitkamp is the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat and may very well lose her seat. 

    TENNESSEE: Bob Corker (R) is the current Senator of Tennessee, but he announced his retirement and is not seeking re-election. Phil Bredesen (D) is the former governor of Tennessee (2003-2011) and a former mayor of Nashville (1991-1999) who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary handily. Marsha Blackburn (R) has been a U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 7th congressional district since 2003, and also won her primary by overwhelming margins. The primary was held on Aug. 2, 2018. Of note is that Corker has struggled to find areas of praise for Blackburn.  While Corker said he will vote for Blackburn in the general election, he has stressed Bredesen has appeal to some GOP voters and lauded his cooperative working relationship with the Democrat.  Polls showed a competitive race. 

    LEAN (ROSY) RED

    TEXAS: Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz (R) faces a surprisingly competitive primary against Beto O’Rourke (D), a U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district. O’Rourke has raised astounding sums of money relying on small donors as he has vowed not to accept PAC contributions to his campaign. Both candidates won their primaries by margins that precluded runoff primary elections on March 6, 2018. Cruz shows a consistent polling advantage and is expected to win the election; however, O’Rourke could benefit from strong voter turnout to pull off a shock win.  Such an end would defy the odds.

    RUBY RED

    MISSISSIPPI: Incumbent Senator Roger Wicker (R) faces David Baria (D), the Mississippi House of Representatives Minority Leader. Wicker won his primary election on June 5, 2018, whereas Baria placed second in the Democratic primary, but won the runoff re-election that occurred on June 26, 2018.

    MISSISSIPPI (SPECIAL): Senator Thad Cochran (R) resigned effective April 1, 2018, due to health concerns. Governor Phil Bryant (R) appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to fill the vacancy. A jungle primary is scheduled for election day, which is where all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in the same election. Should no candidate exceed 50% of the vote, a runoff special election will be head between the top two candidates from the prior election on Nov. 26, 2018.

    NEBRASKA: Incumbent Senator Deb Fischer (R) is seeking reelection to a second term. She faces Jane Raybould (D), a Lincoln City Councilwoman in the general election. Fischer won a contested Republican primary with 75.8% of the vote, whereas Raybould won with 63.7% of the Democratic primary vote. Primary elections were held on May 15, 2018.

    UTAH: Senator Orrin Hatch (R) announced that he would resign his seat at the end of his current term and would not seek reelection. Utah has an unusual system for selecting primary nominees; first, the candidates must compete in a convention process, and if they secure 60% of the vote, they head to the general election ballot unopposed. Jenny Wilson (D), a Salt Lake City Councilwoman, achieved this threshold at the Democratic convention and therefore was the Democratic nominee for Senator. Surprisingly, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) was unable to achieve this threshold at the convention. Through successive caucus voting, Mitt Romney was to face Utah State Representative Mike Kennedy in a primary on June 26, 2018, which Romney was able to win overwhelmingly. This means Romney will face Wilson in the general.

    WYOMING: Incumbent Senator John Barrasso (R) is seeking reelection. Primary elections will be held on Aug. 21, 2018.

    The House of Representatives

    There are 435 seats in the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, where members are elected for two-year terms in single-seat constituencies. 

    To have control over the chamber, a party must hold a majority -- at least 218 seats.  Going into the 2018 mid-term elections, Republicans held 236 seats, Democrats held 193 seats, and six seats were vacant.  Democrats would have to hold all their existing seats and flip 25 seats. 

    Of the 193 Democratic-held seats, 181 are deep blue Democratic, and 10 are sky blue leaning Democratic (these include a handful of vacant or open seats). Only two Democratic-held seats can be viewed as sitting in vulnerable "toss up" territory.  These are due to the fact that they are both open seats.  

    Of the 236 Republican-held seats, 153 are ruby red Republican and  about 50 are rosy red leaning Republican. As many as 37 Republican-held seats can be viewed as sitting in vulnerable "flippable" or "toss up" territory. 

    A mix of flippable, toss up, open, and vacant seats make up the key constituencies which are likely to decide the election.  They are discussed below and are labeled as Democratic-held or Republican held-sections.

    AZ-02: Rep. Martha McSally is the pre-election incumbent in this district, but is running for U.S. Senator of Arizona. Democrats nominated Ann Kirkpatrick to run in the general election, who was a former Rep. for AZ-01 from 2009-2011 and 2013-2017. Republicans nominated Lea Marquez Peterson, the President and CEO of the Tuscon Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The race is a top target by Democrats in their quest to retake the House.

    CA-10: Incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham (R) won the most votes in the top-two primary for this district followed by challenger Josh Harder (D), a venture capitalist who has the backing of former President Barack Obama. Denham is a Republican representing a district won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

    CA-25: Incumbent Rep. Steve Knight (R) will face Katie Hill (D), a nonprofit executive director who has the backing of former President Barack Obama, Emily’s List, and NARAL pro-choice America. Hillary Clinton won this district in the 2016 presidential election with slightly over 50% of the vote.

    CA-39: Rep. Ed Royce (R) is the pre-election incumbent in the district, but he is retiring. In the top-two primary, the two top finishers were Young Kim (R), a former member of the California State Assembly, and Gil Cisneros (D), a veteran and education advocate. Hillary Clinton won this district by 8.6% in the 2016 presidential election, thus making an attractive target for Democrats.

    CA-45: Incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters (R) will face Katie Porter (D). Katie is a consumer protection attorney with the backing of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA). She has touted her support for Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for all plan.

    CA-48: The DCCC is heavily focused on this district; while incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) won re-election by 16 points in 2016, Hillary Clinton also won this district by two points. He is being challenged by businessman Harley Rouda (D). The race is expected to be very competitive.

    CA-49: Rep. Darrell Issa (R) is the pre-election incumbent in this district, but in early January of 2018, he announced that he would not seek re-election after having served in Congress since 2000. Hillary Clinton won this district in the 2016 presidential election, which makes this a primary target for Democrats in the midterms. The general election will be between attorney Mike Levin (D) and Diane Harkey (R), a state Board of Equalization member.

    CA-50: While five-term incumbent Duncan Hunter (R) advanced to the general election, he was indicted in August of 2018 by the Department of Justice for violating campaign finance laws, conspiracy, and wire fraud. He faces small business owner Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) in the general election, who has the backing of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy for America.

    CO-06: Incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman (R) is being challenged by former Army Ranger Jason Crow (D). Given that this district went for Hillary Clinton by 9 points, it is an attractive opportunity for Democrats in attempting to retake the House.

    FL-27: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is the pre-election incumbent for this district, but is not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterms. Democrats have put up Donna Shalala (D), former US Health and Human Services Secretary under former President Bill Clinton, who will face Broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Salazar (R). This race is considered the best pickup opportunity for Democrats as Hillary Clinton won this district by 20 points in the US presidential election.

    IA-01: Incumbent Rep. Rod Blum (R) will face state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) in the general election. This district is of interest to Democrats given its electoral history; in 2008 and 2012, the district went for former President Barack Obama twice, but flipped for President Donald Trump in 2016.

    IA-03: Incumbent Rep. David Young (R) will face small business owner Cindy Axne (D) in the general election. President Donald Trump won this district in 2016, but this district originally went for former President Barack Obama in 2012. In the summer, the Cook Report changed their assessment of this race from “lean Republican” to toss-up.
     
    IL-06: Incumbent Rep. Peter Roskam (R) is being challenged by energy executive Sean Casten (D). Hillary Clinton won this district by 7 points. Casten is being backed by former President Barack Obama, and many political experts consider this the strongest challenge to Roskam yet.

    IL-12: Incumbent Rep. Mike Bost (R) faces a challenge from St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly (D). The district was originally held by Democrats since 1993 before Bost upset this track record in 2015 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has made it a primary target in the 2018 midterms. Bost has the backing of Illinois Farm Bureau and the American Federation of Government Employees, whereas Kelly has the endorsements of Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D).

    KS-02: Incumbent Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R) is not seeking re-election, so the seat will either be filled by former state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) or Steve Watkins (R), an Army veteran and engineer. Davis is running a Conor Lamb-style campaign and has mounted some aggressive fundraising against his Republican opponent.

    KS-03: Incumbent Kevin Yoder (R) faces Sharice Davids (D), an economic advisor. While this district went for John McCain and Mitt Romney in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections respectively, Hillary Clinton won it by 1 point in 2016, which has made it of interest to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    KY-06: Incumbent Andy Barr (R) faces Amy McGrath (D), a former Marine Corps pilot. While Barr won re-election by double digits in 2014 and 2016, and President Donald Trump carried this district by more than 15 points in the 2016 presidential election, the race is considered a toss-up by various political analysts.

    ME-02: Incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) is being challenged by state Rep. Jared Golden (D) in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made this district a priority, as the race is considered a toss-up; former President Barack Obama won this district in the 2012 presidential election by 9 points, but President Donald Trump won it by 10 points in 2016. 

    MI-08: Incumbent Mike Bishop (R) was first elected in 2014 and will face challenger Elissa Slotkin (D) in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making this a primary target in the 2018 midterms as polling shows this race is considered a toss-up.

    MI-11: Incumbent David Trott (R) is not seeking re-election in 2018 after serving only two terms in the House. Businesswoman Lena Epstein (R) is self-funding a run to replace him and faces Haley Stevens (D), a former member of the Obama administration. Trott’s district voted for former President Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, but voted for Mitt Romney and President Donald Trump in 2012 and 2016 respectively. MI-11 is on the list of districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    MN-01: Incumbent Rep. Tim Walz (D) is not seeking re-election in 2018 after serving in Congress since 2006. Dan Faheen (D), a former member of former President Barack Obama’s administration, will face Jim Hagedorn (R) in the general election. This district went for Obama by 2 points in the 2012 presidential election, but went for President Donald Trump in 2016 by 15 points. The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting this seat for the 2018 midterms.

    MN-02: Incumbent Jason Lewis (R), who was elected in 2016, will face Angie Craig (D), who manages the St. Jude's Global Human Resources group. This district went for former President Barack Obama by one-tenth of a percentage point in the 2012 presidential election and subsequently went for President Donald Trump in 2016. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has included this district in its list of targets.

    MN-03: Incumbent Erik Paulsen (R) faces businessman Dean Phillips (D) in the general election. While he was elected by a 16-point margin in 2016, this district went for former President Barack Obama by single-digit margins in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and also went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 10 points. It is a target for flipping by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    MN-08: Incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan (D) is not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterm elections. Former state Rep. Joe Radinovich (D) will face St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber (R) in the general election. The race is considered a toss-up by various polling experts.

    NC-09: Incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger (R) lost his primary to challenger to Mark Harris (R), a founding member of Vote for Marriage NC. Harris will go on to face Dan McCready (D), a businessman and Marine veteran, in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting this district, although it went for President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election by 12 points. Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up, although other political analysts believe the election leans Republican.

    NJ-02: Incumbent Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) is not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterm elections after serving the district since 1995. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D) will face off with attorney Seth Grossman (R) in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made this race one of their targets in 2018, as a Public Policy Polling poll had a generic Democrat leading a Republican counterpart by 5 points in November of 2017.

    NJ-03: Incumbent Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) is being challenged by former Obama national security adviser Andrew Kim (D) in the 2018 midterm election. The race is considered by polling analysts to either be lean Republican or a toss-up despite MacArthur winning his 2016 election by 20 points.

    NJ-07: Incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance (R) will face Tom Malinowski (D), a former State Department official in the Obama administration, in the 2018 midterm election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has expressed interest in the race as it went from voting for Romney in the 2012 presidential election by a 7 point margin to voting for Hillary Clinton by 1 point in 2016.

    NJ-11: Incumbent Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) is not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterm election after having represented the district since 1994. Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) faces Mikie Sherrill (D), a former federal prosecutor, in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this district as a target due to President Trump winning the district by less than a percentage point in the 2016 presidential election (although Frelinghuysen was re-elected by a 19-point margin in 2016).

    NV-03: Incumbent Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) is not seeking re-election as she has gone on to challenge incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) for his Senate seat. Small business owner Danny Tarkanian (R) will face Susie Lee (D), a nonprofit director, in the general election. Given the district’s history as a swing district, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made it a 2018 target, and polling analysts have ranked it as a lean Democratic election. 

    NV-04: Incumbent Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D) announced in late 2017 that he would not seek re-election following reports that he solicited sexual favors from a woman staffer. Steven Horsford (D), a former representative of the district before losing his seat in 2014, will face Cresent Hardy (R), another former representative of the district before losing his seat in 2016. Election forecasters have rated the district as slightly favoring Democrats.

    NH-01: Incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) is not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterm election.  Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D), former South Hampton police chief Eddie Edwards (R), and a third party investment consultant Dan Belforti (L) will be facing each other in the general election. The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting this seat as President Donald Trump won this seat by less than 2 points in the 2016 presidential election. However, former President Barack Obama won by the same margin in 2012. Polling analysts have classified the seat as leaning Democratic.

    NY-19: Incumbent Rep. John Faso (R) will face attorney Antonio Delgado (D) in the general election. This district went for former President Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, but in 2016, it voted for President Donald Trump by 7 points. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this district on its list of targets in the 2018 midterm elections.

    NY-22: Incumbent Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) will face Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D) in the general election. She was first elected in 2016 by a 6-point margin while President Donald Trump won the district by a 16-point margin in the 2016 presidential election. Nevertheless, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this district on its list of targets as Mitt Romney won it by less than 1 point in 2012. 

    NY-25: This district has a vacant seat as the incumbent, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D), passed away in March of 2018. Joseph Morelle (D), a member of the New York State Assembly, is seeking to succeed her and is being challenged by James Maxwell (R), a neurosurgeon. The seat is considered safe for the Democratic Party.

    OH-01: Incumbent Steve Chabot (R) is facing Aftab Pureval (D), a Democratic county court clerk. The seat is on a list of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targets; the last time it went for Democrats was in the 2008 presidential election, but Chabot reclaimed the seat in 2010 and has held it since.

    PA-01: The incumbent Rep. of PA-08, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R), is facing Scott Wallace (D) in the general election for PA-01. This is due to a court order that resulted in the newly drawn 1st district containing a majority of the 8th district. The district is considered a swing district due to it including Bucks County, which backed Hillary Clinton by 1 point in the 2016 presidential election.

    PA-05: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court crafted the fifth district from parts of the prior 1st, 2nd, and 7th districts. Hillary Clinton won the areas in the new fifth district by 28 points in the 2016 presidential election, so the new district is considered a safe Democratic seat by polling analysts. Attorney Mary Gay Scanlon (D) will face former prosecutor Pearl Kim (R) in the general election.

    PA-06: Incumbent Ryan Costello (R) withdrew from the race in March of 2018 following a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that dictated the district’s boundaries were the result of a Republican gerrymander. Attorney Greg McCauley (R) will face Chrissy Houlahan (D) in the general election. Both the old and new sixth district voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, albeit by significantly different margins; the old district went for Hillary by less than 1 point whereas the new district went for Hillary by 9.3 points.
     
    PA-07: Olympic cyclist Marty Nothstein (R), former Allentown Solicitor Susan Wild (D), and third-party former WFMZ-TV reporter Tim Silfies (L) will face each other in the general election for a seat originally held by moderate Republican leader Charlie Dent, as the newly drawn seventh district by the PennsylvaniaSupreme Court was composed of parts of Dent’s old 15th district. The new seventh district voted for Hillary Clinton by a little over one point, and the race is considered lean Democratic by polling analysts.

    PA-17: Due to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court striking down the state’s district map as an illegally partisan gerrymander, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R), who represents the old 12th district, will face Conor Lamb (D), who won a special election for the old 18th district seat in March of 2018. While President Donald Trump won the new district area by 2.6 points in the 2016 presidential election, the race is generally considered a toss-up by polling analysts.
     
    TX-07: Incumbent John Culberson (R) will face attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) in the general election. This district was won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The race is considered a toss-up by polling analysts.

    TX-23: Incumbent Will Hurd (R) will face Gina Ortiz Jones (D), an air force veteran and trade advisor, in the 2018 midterm election. In the 2016 presidential election, the district narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton, but also voted to re-elect Hurd. Election forecasters either rate this race as leaning Republican or a toss-up.

    TX-32: Incumbent Pete Sessions (R) faces Colin Allred (D), a civil rights attorney, in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this district as a target due to it voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election despite it voting for a Republican representative.

    VA-02: Incumbent Rep. Scott Taylor (R) is being challenged by Elaine Luria (D), a retired Navy officer and business owner. While the Cook Political Report classified this race as a toss-up, an internal poll from Luria’s campaign had her up over Taylor by eight points in mid-September. This unusual margin may be explained by the fact that Taylor is currently being investigated for his potential role in a ballot signature scandal where Taylor’s staffers submitted fraudulent signatures to qualify an independent candidate, Shaun Brown, on the ballot, which would result in support being siphoned away from Luria. 

    VA-07: Incumbent David Brat (R) will face Abigail Spanberger (D) and Joe Walton (L) in the general election. Despite this district being held by Republicans since 1971, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting this seat as various polling analysts consider it a toss-up.

    VA-10: Incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) will face off against state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this district on its list of targets due to the fact that Hillary Clinton won it by 10 points in the 2016 presidential election.

    WV-03: State Del. Carol Miller (R) will face state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D) to fill a vacant seat originally held by incumbent Rep. Evan Jenkins (R); Jenkins was appointed to fill a vacancy on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on August 25th. Ojeda generated national interest by virtue of the fact that he voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but is running as a Democrat. He is pro-2nd Amendment and pro-coal energy, but was a leader in the 2018 teacher strike in West Virginia. A June 2018 poll from Monmouth University had the race as nearly even.

    WA-08: Incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert (R) announced that he was not seeking re-election in the 2018 midterm elections. Former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) is vying to take his place against pediatrician Kim Schrier (D). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has expressed interest in this race due to the district backing the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections by 2-5 points (even though Reichert won re-election in 2016 by 20 points).

    Polling Data
     
    In September 2018, polling data for the generic ballot gave Democrats leads ranging from three percentage points to 12 percentage points ahead of the Republicans. 

    That advantage for Democrats on the generic ballot did not translate into automatic wins for them in the upper chamber -- the Senate.  Many Senare seats that Democrats have to defend, as well as ones they would need to flip, were located in red states with conservative constituents.  

    As such, in an era of polarized politics, the chance that Republicans would swing their votes to a Democrat would largely depend on the question of whether voters were content with the conditions over Republican rule in the White House and the Congress, or, if they were in the mood for change.  Also at issue was the Trump factor.  While the president was popular among Republicans, his low approval rating was attributable to dispproval by Democrats and Independents.  It was to be seen if there would be some Trump-effect "brand damage" to Republicans in Congress.  

    Due to the difficulty of the Senate map for Democrats -- irrespective of Trump's unpopularity at the broad level, and irrespective of the generic ballot disadvantage for Republicans -- it was quite likely that Republicans would hold onto power in the Senate.  Indeed, Democrats would have to "run the table" to upend the status quo.

    Consistent with this landscape, most political forecast outfits including the Cook Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball at the Center for Politics, the University of Virginia, as well as political ratings venues from CNN and Politico, were all suggesting that Democrats were well positioned to win the House or narrowly miss doing so, while Republicans were likely to hold the Senate. 

    As well, the 538 forecasting website in September 2018 predicted that Republicans had a 68.1 percent of holding onto the Senate, while the Democrats had a 31.9 percent of taking control of the Senate.  In October 2018, Republicans had strengthened their hand and now had a 80.6 percent chance of retaining the Senate while Democrats had a 19.4 percent chance of flipping the upper chamber.   On the eve of the election in early November 2018, Republicans were up to a 85.2 percent of holding the Senate while Democrats were at 14.8 percent. 

    The situation in the House of Representatives was quite different with several swing districts at stake.  Of particular note were "flippable"  congressional districts that Trump either narrowly won or narrowly lost, or districts that Hillary Clinton won, which at the congressional level went to the Republican House representative.  Those constituenties were vulnerable to flipping in a "change" environment.

    Earlier in mid-August 2018, the 538 forecasting website had predicted a 74.6 percent chance of Democrats retaking the House; and a 25.4 percent chance of Republicans retaining control of the lower chamber.  

    In September 2018, that forecast had changed so that Democrats had an 80.7 percent chance of retaking the house and with a 19.3 percent chance of the Republicans holding onto power in the lower chamber.

    In Ocober 2018, the forecast initially dipped slightly with Democrats having a 79 percent chance of retaking the House and Republicans climbing to 21 percent.  But by mid-October 2018, this shifted at Democrats had a 80.9 percent chance of retaking the House while Republicans were back down to 19.1 percent.  

    By the start of November 2018, ahead of the election, the 538 forecast had boosted the propsects of Democrats winning the house to 85.8 percent while the Republicans had slipped to 14.2 percent.

    Polling data in specific constituencies can conceivably change this forecast in the run-up to election day. Fundamentally, though, a prediction model would be no substitute for actual votes on election day. 

    Election Results: 

    To recapitulate: Democrats held the generic ballot advantage for the House ahead of mid term elections but the election map favored Republicans in the Senate. The big questions going into the mid-term elections were as folows -- Would Trump's brand of harsh rhetoric bring out the Republican base and boost his party to victory?  Or would Democrats successfully leverage anti-Trump sentiment and win back at least one House of Congress?  

    The answers to these questions on Nov. 6, 2018 were yes on both fronts.  Trump was able to rally the Republican base sufficiently to hold the Senate, and flip Democratic-held seats in "red" states. On the other side of the equation, anti-Trump sentiment bouyed Democratic contenders to victory over long-serving Republicans incumbents in conservative districts.  

    First, in a highly polarized political climate, Trump's support for red state Republicans  boosted their prospects against several incumbent Democrats at the Senate level.  The result was a number of "pick ups" in for Republicans in states like Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Florida, at the time of writing, was likely headed for a recount, while votes in Arizona were still being counted. Democrats were able to hold both West Virginia and Montana, and also flip Nevada.  Mississippi was also set for a run off.  

    On Nov. 7, 2018, the tally was 51 seats for the Republicans,  46 seats for the Democrats, and three seats undeclared. 

    At the end of the proverbial day though, as predicated, Republicans were able to hold the Senate.  As a consequence, Mitch McConnell was positioned to remain in place as Senate Majority Leader. 

    Second, rampant anti-Trump sentiment, along with a slate of particuarly well credentialed and charismatic Democratic candidates, resulted in victory over long-serving Republicans incumbents in conservative districts.  Going into the election, Democrats were at a significant disadvantage and had to flip 23 seats without suffering erosion of their own seat currently-held  That goal was made all the more difficult due to carefully carved  congressional districts intended to faciliate a Republican stranglehold in the lower house of Congress.  Nevertheless, anti-Trump sentiment in suburbs, particularly among college-educated women,  was shifting that natural Republican advantage in key states, such as new York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California, where Democrats successfully flipped several seats.  But Democrats also made gains in unexpected districts including Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.  

    At the time of writing, Democrats had flipped more than sufficient seats from red to blue -- approximately 28.  However, that was not the final total since seats in California were still being counted. On Nov. 7, 2018, the tally was 223 seats for the Democrats to 197 for the Republicans with 15 seats still outstanding. 

    The result was the Democratic take-over of the House of Representatives by a significant and decisive margin, and Nancy Pelosi positioned to become the next House Speaker. 


     


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