US Midterms: Democrats defy the odds in the House contests

Going into yesterday’s elections, the expectation was that the Democrats would be hard pressed to repel the five seat swing required by the Republicans to win control of the House. But, as it turned out, the task is made easier if you have extremist candidates carrying the red banner, and you threaten abortion rights in a country where the majority favour abortion rights with some, usually mainstream, restrictions.

And so far, that’s how it seems to be playing. Of the sixty-four seats judged to be in play by the Cook Political Report, forty-five Democrat-held to just nineteen Republican-held, as I write this, the Democrats have held seventeen and gained five, whereas the Republicans have held four and gained three. There are still thirty-five seats left to be called though, and the Democrats currently lead in nineteen of them, with three too close to call.

Some of the more interesting contests are;

  • Alaska saw a special election to fill the State’s sole House seat over the summer, in which Mary Peltola, the House’s first Alaskan native lawmaker and a Democrat, defeated Sarah Palin quite comfortably in the end. Alaska uses ranked voting, whereby you can have more than one candidate from any party, and it works like Alternative Vote. Last time, the second Republican’s votes split favourably for Peltola and it’s pretty much the same scenario this time, except that Peltola has almost as many votes as the two Republicans combined with 75% of the vote counted.
  • Ohio-1 covers the Cincinnati area and boundary changes pushed it into the Democrat target zone in a state which has leaned ever more Republican in recent years, but Greg Landsman has beaten the incumbent Republican, Steve Chabot, by four percentage points, despite all the key statewide races going to Republicans.
  • Maine-2 is basically everywhere outside Portland and its suburbs, and has been traditionally Republican, but Jared Golden won it last time, and with ranked voting in place here, he’s favoured to hang on, leaving the Republicans without a single House seat in New England, with the only other serious prospect for them, Rhode Island-2 now called as a Democrat hold.

It’s not been all positive for the Democrats, of course, with Virginia-2, covering the coastal strip, Florida-3 (Gainesville, in the north of the state) and New York-3 (inner Long Island) all lost.

But we’ll know more in the morning, so hopefully a night’s sleep will bring good news…

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.
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