By Jim Ellis
Dec. 1, 2020 — The latest outstanding congressional race numbers suggest that the House may break 223 Democrats to 212 Republicans when some very close elections are finally decided. If this is indeed the final party division among the 435 seats, the GOP will only be six congressional districts away from re-claiming the House majority in the 2022 elections.
Currently, we see Real Clear Politics projecting California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) as the winner over state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) in the state’s 25th CD, which lies in parts of both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
With still a small undetermined number of votes to be verified and counted, Garcia’s tight 405-vote margin appears to be holding. Our own rudimentary projections suggest that the freshman Republican congressman will hold by just under 400 votes. It is probable we will see a recount and potential ballot challenges, so the result may be challenged before and after certification. Under California election law, certification for all races must occur by Dec. 11.
We have seen several projections made suggesting former California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) has defeated freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) in the state’s Central Valley 21st CD. Valadao has a 1,820-vote lead according to the California Target Book organization’s in-depth analysis.
Our more rudimentary estimates suggest that Valadao will win the final count by approximately 1,400 votes based upon the potential number of outstanding ballots in the three counties, Kern, Kings, and Tulare, that are still verifying and counting mail votes. Fresno County has completed its count.
Later today, we expect to see the second certification of Iowa candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Under Iowa law, a certification had to be issued one week after the election, in this case Nov. 10, and Miller-Meeks, a state senator from Ottumwa who is in her fourth run for the US House, was originally certified as the winner with a 47-vote margin. The full recount finds former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D) gaining votes but still losing by a total of just six votes districtwide from more than 394,400 ballots cast, a Miller-Meeks winning percentage of 50.0008 percent.
Though the Iowa state canvassing board is expected to certify soon, such action won’t necessarily mean that the legal challenges have concluded. We will see further wrangling over ballots that the recount judges and county clerks disqualified, so expect this political overtime contest to continue.
The Iowa election is so close that it is possible the House will not seat the winner, particularly since the Democrats are in control of the body and the Republican candidate looks to become the official winner. Under these types of close elections, it is possible that the contest could eventually be resolved by having a rerun special election after the next congressional session begins. The twists and turns in this race, however, are far from finished. Therefore, we are a long way from a new election resolution.
Failure to seat a certified candidate is not without precedence. Therefore, even with a state certified result, the House still has the authority to seat all of its members. We can expect continued political drama to unfold before this race is finally decided.
The NY-22 race might end in a similar situation as that described for IA-2. Here, the laborious count may still not be over, but Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) has stormed back after originally being down more than 40,000 votes to take a 13-vote lead with 317,489 ballots counted and recorded. It is difficult to know in New York races how many uncounted votes remain, but the best estimate is 99 percent of the grand total is reporting. If so, then it’s possible that approximately another 3,000-plus votes remain to be tabulated, but that is a very rough estimate.
The 2020 election, which has been the most unique in American history considering the COVID effect, could drag on even longer as these incredibly close election results from the three states continue to be processed and ultimately decided.