With states allowing a greater volume of absentee balloting, elections take much longer to call. Several remain in abeyance, waiting either for final votes to arrive or an arbitrary date for which to begin counting. Many of these races are in California, where hundreds of thousands of mail ballots remain uncounted.
In the Senate, aside from the Louisiana run-off now scheduled for Dec. 6, Alaska and Virginia are not yet officially called but the outcome in both cases is clear.
In the Last Frontier, it’s just a matter of time before GOP nominee Dan Sullivan is declared the winner. Waiting to count the votes from the state’s vast outlying areas, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) would have to attract almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots. With a Sullivan lead over 8,000 votes, Begich trailing for the last few weeks in polling, and the very real Republican wave that we witnessed last night, it is a sure bet that we can add this incumbent to the list of defeated Democratic senators.
Likewise, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, never thought to be in particular trouble heading into election night, will avert a shocking upset. He’s now ahead by almost 18,000 votes, and every indication suggests that the race will finally end in a Warner victory. Still, the night yielded a very strong performance for former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who became a candidate for the first time. He has a promising future in upcoming races, either a 2017 open gubernatorial run or a 2018 challenge to Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
In the governors’ races, with Colorado now going for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper after a very tight battle with former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7), Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) being projected the winner, and the Vermont race going to the state legislature because no candidate garnered majority support, the Alaska contest remains the only undecided campaign. Here, Independent nominee Bill Walker holds a 3,000-plus vote lead over incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell (R). It is also likely that this smaller amount will be enough for Walker to hold, but a reversal is not completely out of the question, however unlikely.
In House races, two contests have been called. The open seat of defeated Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) in north and western Maine went to Republican Bruce Poliquin. Turning to Arizona, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), who first won this seat in 2008, lost it in 2010, and regained the office in 2012, did survive to win another term.
Just to Kirkpatrick’s south, it appears the location of the remaining ballots will favor challenger Martha McSally (R) to defeat Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2). McSally now has a lead that is approaching 2,000 votes.
Because of the California counting system, seven House races remain undecided. With the mail ballots usually favoring Democrats in the Golden State, expect the Ds to win at least five of these seven. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7), entangled with former Rep. Doug Ose (R), is in doubt as Ose’s lead could be strong enough to withstand the absentee influx. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) leads state Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell (R) by only about 530 votes, so this one is anyone’s game. In San Diego, Republican challenger Carl DeMaio has a 752-vote lead, with thousands left to count. Two years ago, then-candidate Scott Peters (D-CA-52) unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in the absentee count. The same pattern could emerge here. In Fresno, Rep. Jim Costa (R-CA-16) trails his little-known Republican opponent, rancher Johnny Tacherra (R), by 736 votes with a total combined count that isn’t even reaching 70,000.
Elsewhere, the surprising showing from former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (R-MD-6) will likely fall just short of unseating freshman Maryland Rep. John Delaney (D). Bongino trails by 2,166 votes with more than 5,000 absentee ballots remaining to be counted. The outstanding ballots are split about evenly between the two parties, therefore making it very difficult for Bongino to garner enough votes to neutralize and overcome Delaney’s lead.
Finally, we go to New York, where veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY-25) clings to only a 582-vote lead against local town supervisor Mark Assini (R). Apparently enough outstanding ballots still exist in this race to turn the tables on the 85-year-old, 14-term veteran House member. This result is far from certain.
If these final results fall into the stated patterns, the GOP majority will land somewhere between 248 and 250 seats, making it the largest Republican governing margin since the 1928 election.