"The Closest Races" - by Jim Ellis
January 10, 2019
Now that the various state elections' offices have certified the November 6th final voting totals, we can begin to better analyze the particulars of the 2018 campaigns, which will provide clues to future targeting and possible performance.
Below are the 29 US House winners who received a final vote total of 51% or less, and we can be assured that most, if not all, of these veteran and new members will be major targets in the 2020 elections.
Fifteen of the districts yielded Democratic victories with 14 going to or remaining Republican. All US House results are final with the exception of the NC-9 contest that remains uncertified and is likely to go to a new election. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet tomorrow and it is probable that they will order a new election as part of the proceedings.
Listed in order by party from the winner with the lowest percentages:
IA-3: Cindy Axne (D) - 49.3% (Rep. David Young - 47.1%)
NJ-3: Andy Kim (D) - 50.0% (Rep. Tom MacArthur - 48.7%)
UT-4: Ben McAdams (D) - 50.1% (Rep. Mia Love - 49.9%)
NY-22: Anthony Brindisi (D) - 50.1% (Rep. Claudia Tenney - 48.3%)
VA-7: Abigail Spanberger (D) - 50.3% (Rep. Dave Brat - 48.4%)
CA-21: T.J. Cox (D) - 50.4% (Rep. David Valadao - 49.6%)
NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D) - 50.4% (Rep. John Faso - 45.3%)
GA-6: Lucy McBath (D) - 50.5% (Rep. Karen Handel - 49.5%)
ME-2: Jared Golden (D) - 50.5% (Rep. Bruce Poliquin - 49.5%)
MI-8: Elissa Slotkin (D) - 50.6% (Rep. Mike Bishop - 46.8%)
SC-1: Joe Cunningham (D) - 50.6% (Katie Arrington - 49.2%)
OK-5: Kendra Horn (D) - 50.7% (Rep. Steve Russell - 49.3%)
FL-26: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) - 50.9% (Rep. Carlos Curbelo - 49.1%)
NM-2: Xochitl Torres-Small (D) - 50.9% (Yvette Herrell - 49.1%)
IA-1: Abby Finkenauer (D) - 51.0% (Rep. Rod Blum - 45.9%)
KS-2: Steve Watkins (R) - 47.6% (Paul Davis - 46.8% - Rep. Lynn Jenkins retiring)
NY-27: Chris Collins (R) - 47.8% (Nate McMurray - 47.4%)
TX-23: Will Hurd (R) - 49.2% (Gina Ortiz Jones - 48.7%)
GA-7: Rob Woodall (R) - 50.1% (Carolyn Bourdeaux - 49.9%)
MN-1: Jim Hagedorn (R) - 50.1% (Dan Feehan - 49.7%)
MI-6: Fred Upton (R) - 50.2% (Matt Longjohn - 45.7%)
IA-4: Steve King (R) - 50.3% (JD Scholten - 47.0%)
IL-13: Rodney Davis (R) - 50.4% (Betsy Dirksen Londrigen - 49.6%)
TX-31: John Carter (R) - 50.6% (MJ Hegar - 47.7%)
MN-8: Pete Stauber (R) - 50.7% (Joe Radinovich - 45.2%)
NY-1: Lee Zeldin (R) - 50.7% (Perry Gershon - 46.6%)
MT-AL: Greg Gianforte (R) - 50.9% (Kathleen Williams - 46.2%)
KY-6: Andy Barr (R) - 51.0% (Amy McGrath - 47.8%)
NE-2: Don Bacon (R) - 51.0% (Kara Eastman - 49.0%)
The fact that Republicans won literally half of the races where the winner scored the lowest percentage suggests that the 40-seat swing could actually have been much worse. Also, Republicans prevailing in a few more races could have significantly mitigated the Democratic conversion rate. But, such is always the case in elections such as the one we saw in November. There are always a relatively high number of campaigns that could have flipped to either side with a switch of a comparatively few number of votes.
It's probable that we will see some of the close losing candidates return in 2020. Previously, Kara Eastman, the Democratic nominee in NE-2 (Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha), said she will run again next year. Yesterday, New Mexico former state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) announced that she will return to challenge freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (D-Las Cruces). Former state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-North Charleston) is actively considering running again, as is Gina Ortiz Jones in TX-23 (Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio)).
Former Reps. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY) are possible re-match candidates.
It's likely we won't see ex-Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) returning for the next congressional election, however. Mr. Brat just accepted a position to run the business school at Liberty University, while Mr. Curbelo is reportedly considering a run for Miami-Dade County Mayor.