UPDATED: Latest on White House, Senate and House Races

Posted on 11/08/2020 11:53 AM

Some knowns and unknowns




Some 100 million ballots were believed to have been cast before Election Day.


     Nevada: Nevada’s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, called a special session of the Legislature at the end of July, which rushed into law provisions for mailing out ballots to every voter registered in the state. The result swamped Nevada’s ability to count, and since the new law provides that ballots count if they’re received as late as a week after the election, the prospect for irregularities is high.


     The Democratic Pennsylvania Supreme Court contributed to the mistrust by rewriting state election law to let mailed ballots be counted until Nov. 6. The U.S. Supreme Court could have helped by intervening. Chief Justice John Roberts refused.


     Outlook: Will statehouses make mail-in balloting the new normal? If so, the push to standardize the process is ahead.




The election of 2020 is already taking on the profile of “the stolen election,” with the losing side accusing the other. Some note the delivery of a batch of votes all for Biden at one time can be explained by the practice of some jurisdictions to divide and report the votes of each candidate at different times. Ahead are recounts in some states and several court challenges that will likely take the matter into mid-December.


     Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria revealed that his office in Nevada received reports of potential voter fraud and said his office will investigate those after the election is completed. “We do have some reports that have come in that we're logging for reporting. But we're definitely going to do an investigation, and we'll deal with them once the canvass is finished,” Gloria said in a press conference Saturday when asked if he was aware of any nefarious or illegitimate ballots cast. “The votes are in the system at this point, so we'll have to after the election, post-election, go after anything that's been reported at this time.”


     Biden needs Trump to concede to be able to govern. Trump has every right to demand recounts if state votes are close, and to go to the courts for relief if there is evidence of fraud, says the Wall Street Journal editorial team. Biden should also want the recounts and legal process to play out for the sake of his call to heal political rancor. If Biden has 270 Electoral College votes at the end of the litigation, Trump will have a decision to make, the WSJ editorial adds: “Will he concede gracefully? If not, his historic first victory and a strong re-election performance when he was supposed to lose in a rout would be significantly watered down by a refusal to accept the normal transfer of power.”


     A split nation. Only a small fraction of voters — 5%, according to early exit poll results — decided whom they would support in the immediate run-up to the election. Partisan allegiances were even stronger than four years ago: Well over 90% of Democrats and Republicans voted for their party’s nominee.




     Black vote. Trump managed to outperform his 2016 showing with minorities. His share of black voters in exit polls rose from 8% to 12%. A September Democracy Fund survey found the president with 21% support among black voters under 45. One black Republican — Byron Donalds in Florida — won a GOP seat, and another, Burgess Owens, is in a tight, yet-to-be-called contest in Utah. John James, in his second race for a Michigan U.S. Senate seat, lost narrowly to the Democratic incumbent. All told, 24 of 26 black Republicans lost races for Congress.


     Hispanic vote. Trump’s share of Hispanic men rose from 32% to 36% and Hispanic women from 25% to 28%.


     White vote. Only 58% of white men voted for Trump, down from 62% four years ago.




President-elect Biden. 46th president. 15th vice president to ascend to the presidency. He is the oldest man elected to the White House. Biden, who will turn 78 on Nov. 20, was born in 1942 during World War II. As of Saturday, Biden had won a record of 74.8 million votes across the nation, according to the Associated Press tally. Trump’s popular-vote count, 70.5 million, was the second-highest ever received by a presidential candidate, exceeding the previous record of 69.5 million held by former President Barack Obama in the 2008 election.


     The presidential race remains preliminary until certified by individual states. The Electoral College votes in December, and the final results are announced in Congress in January.


     Biden described himself as a transitional figure in his party, a bridge to a younger generation of progressive and racially diverse Democratic leaders. Many of these leaders have called for more comprehensive changes, setting the stage for a showdown on climate policy, Medicare expansion and changes to policing and the criminal justice system.


     Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the first woman sworn in as vice president of the United States. According to some ratings, Harris was the most liberal lawmaker in the Senate.


House. Democrats lost seats in the House, giving up some of the suburban gains they made in 2018 while continuing to struggle in rural areas. Democrats, who picked up 41 House seats and the majority in 2018, touted a prediction of 15 more gains in 2020. House analysts say the final House tally will land around 224 (Dem) to 211 (GOP). No GOP incumbents lost, while Democrats flipped 3 seats and Republicans flipped perhaps 12, with 10 races still unclear. This, even though Democratic political-action committees and advocacy groups outspent Republicans by nearly $100 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


     Democratic moderates blame progressives for the party’s poor showing in congressional races. Democrats flipped two seats in North Carolina that court-mandated redistricting had redrawn to be much more favorable to them and were widely expected to go blue.


     Will current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) face a challenge in her leadership role in the next Congress. While some think so, most think she will have the votes to remain Speaker for one more Congress.


Senate. Republicans had to defend 23 seats while Democrats only had to protect 12, but it appears the final Senate will be a razor-thin control by either party, with most signaling the GOP will eventually control the chamber after two Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia. Many observers say the GOP already looks to have won 50 seats to 48 for Democrats, pending the two Georgia runoffs. However, included in the GOP 50 count is North Carolina and Alaska races, with the Alaska race depending on the outcome of mail ballots. Should the Alaska race tilt against GOP candidate Dan Sullivan, then Republicans would have to win both Jan. 5 runoff races in Georgia.


     South Carolina’s GOP incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham easily turned back a challenge from Jaime Harrison, despite Democrats’ lavishing $109 million on Harrison’s campaign and polls and pundits saying it was a close race. And despite losses for Sens. Cory Gardner in Colorado and Martha McSally in Arizona, Republicans defeated Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and are on track to hold seats in Alaska (Dan Sullivan) and North Carolina (Thom Tillis). There will be two Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia, with the GOP likely continuing to hold a majority, barring major surprises ahead.


     North Carolina: Besides provisional and returned mail-in ballots, North Carolina still has 99,000 outstanding absentee ballots, the state board said Friday. Not all of the outstanding ballots will be returned before the Nov. 12 deadline, and some may have been sent to voters who cast ballots in-person on Election Day. Still, the sum of the outstanding, returned, and provisional ballots means outlets are refraining from calling the state’s two most high-profile races. Political experts say Trump and Tillis are favored to win in North Carolina, and some state Republican leadership are castigating the state board for not releasing more vote totals.


     Alaska: Dr. Al Gross, the independent Democratic-endorsed Senate candidate challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan, still thinks he has a chance, despite initial vote results signaling Sullivan.


     Alaska's vote-counting process have erupted as state officials wait to count more than 100,000 absentee and other ballots — long after other U.S. states have already counted the vast majority of their votes. Alaska won’t start tallying its remaining ballots — at least 40% of the total — until Tuesday Nov. 10 at the earliest. The state is accepting mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up until Nov. 13. State officials said the wait stems from Alaska’s huge size and complicated logistics: It has polling places in dozens of villages with no road access. Officials said they also need the extra week to finish the time-consuming process of logging the names of each Alaskan who voted on Election Day, then cross-referencing with absentee ballots to make sure no one’s votes are counted twice. “I am starting to pay a little attention to the Senate race in Alaska, which I had ignored when the numbers showed Sullivan ahead of Gross almost 2-1,” Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted late Thursday. If mailed-in ballots break like other states, Ornstein added, Gross could still win, “which would be earthshaking.”


     Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who won with 51.1% of the vote, wound up beating Democrat Sara Gideon by nearly 9%, despite polls showing a very close rate and most of the political pundits saying the state would opt for Gideon. Rural votes helped Collins win. Gideon raised $69.5 million in Maine compared to Collins’ $27 million, according to the FEC. Collins is a well-known moderate and will be a make-or-break vote on many issues next year, no matter which political party controls the chamber.


     Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is another key moderate. She voted against bringing Supreme Court Justice Barrett’s nomination to the floor before the election but supported her on the final confirmation vote. She is up for re-election in 2022 and may again have to run as an independent.


     Wild card: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Sources say GOP backchannel discussions are taking place with Manchin to get him to switch parties. Manchin has declined similar suggestions in the past. He is up for re-election four years from now.


     Bottom line: Despite who controls the Senate after Georgia's two runoffs and the final verdicts in North Carolina and Alaska, Collins and Murkowski will be key players.




All 11 governorships up this cycle have been called. Republicans added a governorship in Montana. Republicans now control 27 governors’ mansions to Democrats’ 23.


     Montana: Governor-elect Gianforte (R) was able to avenge his 2016 loss for the governor’s mansion, and now Republicans control the governor’s seat in Montana for the first time since 2005. Governor-elect Gianforte was likely able to benefit from Republicans sweeping up and down the ballot, with President Trump carrying the state by nearly 14 points, and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R) winning another term by nine points.




Republicans picked up enough seats to win control of at least two legislative chambers, the New Hampshire state Senate and the Alaska state House, where Republicans appear to be in a position to break a bipartisan coalition that ran the House for the last two years. This will be key in the fight over congressional redistricting next year after the final Census count.



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