At the federal level: Democrats reel after losses, setbacks in Congress

U.S. Capitol. Credit: Getty Images

WASHINGTON—Tuesday’s election was a disaster for congressional Democrats, who were expected to pick up nearly a dozen GOP seats in the House but instead lost races while also failing to flip Senate seats held by vulnerable Republicans.

The outlook for Democratic control of the Senate did not improve the day after the election, either, as Republican Sen. Susan Collins triumphed in an expensive contest against Democrat Sara Gideon in Maine. Five Senate races remained uncalled but it appeared unlikely that Democrats would win enough of them to capture the majority.

“It was a bad night,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said on MSNBC  “I do think Democrats need to sharpen our message.”

“The Republican Senate majority appears likely to endure,” the editors of the University of Virginia Center for Politics “Crystal Ball” election predictor said.

Democrats did manage to flip two Republican Senate seats, Cory Gardner’s in Colorado and Martha McSally’s in Arizona. But, as expected, they lost Sen. Doug Jones’ seat in Alabama.

Gardner lost his reelection race to Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper and McSally lost to Democratic nominee Mark Kelly, who won nearly 53 percent of votes.

For Democrats to have any hope of taking control of the Senate, the party had needed to have a net gain of three or four seats.

But several vulnerable Senate Republicans were able to hang on, like Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia and Steve Daines of Montana.

Senate analysts at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report had predicted that Democrats were favored to take back the Senate with six Senate races labeled as “toss ups.”

Women in the House

House incumbent Democratic women were also hit hard Tuesday night in an election that turned out to be much more favorable for GOP women.

Two incumbent Democrats in Miami, Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, lost their seats to Republicans. Reps. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn of Oklahoma also lost their seats to two Republican women: Yvette Herrell and Stephanie Bice.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had said Tuesday night that she was confident Democrats were “poised to further strengthen our majority – the biggest, most diverse, most dynamic, women-led House majority in history.”

Instead, it was the GOP that added women—for example, when Nancy Mace beat incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. “We likely will have 14-19 additional women in our conference,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

While Democrats will keep their majority hold, they were not able to expand that control and Republicans were able to flip back some seats that Democrats originally flipped in 2018. Democrats currently hold 232 seats, while Republicans have 197. There is also one independent and five vacant seats.