By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022
We saw perhaps the biggest surprise election result in the modern political era last night, and on the morning after we still don’t know which party will control either house of Congress.
SENATE RESULTS AT PUBLISH TIME
The polling was incorrect, and it was not only from Republican pollsters. Democratic and institutional firms by and large all had the same basic numbers and certainly, trends.
This morning, four of the 35 Senate elections remain undecided, meaning neither party has what they need to claim control of the chamber for the new Congress. At this writing, the races still not finalized are in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and its individual candidates are not able to claim victory. It appears we could have winners determined possibly as early as today in all but Georgia, but the two hard-fought Peach State contenders being forced into a post-election runoff means that we most likely won’t have majority leadership until the Dec. 6 secondary contest.
Georgia election law requires its candidates garner an absolute majority in the general election, hence for the second cycle in a row we will be forced to wait weeks before a determination is made. Remember, in 2020, two months were necessary to forge the current Democratic majority, as the candidates in both the special and regular elections were forced into a Jan. 5, 2021 election that produced victories for now-Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) in the full-term cycle, and Raphael Warnock (D) who claimed the special election victory over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R).
Now, in the regular cycle for his seat, Sen. Warnock is falling short of the 50 percent mark with 49.4 percent of the vote versus his opponent Herschel Walker’s (R) 48.5 percent. Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver captured just two percent of the vote, but it was enough to deny either Sen. Warnock or Walker the ability of reaching the 50 percent plateau.
Turnout for the Georgia race will approach 4 million votes, naturally under the 2020 presidential election of 4.4 million, and almost identical with the 3.9 million votes recorded in the 2018 midterm. Turnout analysis will dominate the post-election period and will be conducted when states begin reporting at least preliminary final numbers.
The Arizona totals clearly favor Sen. Mark Kelly (D) over Republican Blake Masters. Though the race has eclipsed a large portion of Sen. Kelly’s advantage coming from the early ballots, it is likely his lead of more than 105,000 votes will probably hold up, though the tallies suggest that 38 percent of the vote remains to be counted. There were vote machine problems in Maricopa County that delayed the full report for a considerable amount of time.
In Nevada, what began as a large lead for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) has turned around and challenger Adam Laxalt, the state’s former Republican Attorney General and grandson of the late Nevada senator and governor Paul Laxalt (R), has advanced into the lead and may not be headed. A sizable number of votes remain to be counted, but the Laxalt trend looks favorable.
The tight Wisconsin race between two-term Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and the state’s Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), is also not complete. With less than two percent of the vote remaining, Sen. Johnson’s slim 32,000-vote lead may hold.
The Alaska race is also undecided, but the state’s new electoral system that sends four candidates to the general election won’t be decided for another two weeks. The contest will winnow to a battle between two Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former Alaska Director of Administration Kelly Tshibaka. While Tshibaka leads the aggregate vote count, it is clear that she and Sen. Murkowski will advance into the Ranked Choice Voting runoff. Though Tshibaka is, and may remain, the vote leader, the RCV runoff system looks to favor Sen. Murkowski. Regardless of which woman is declared the victor when the lengthy process ends, the GOP will retain the Alaska Senate seat.
In the other races, all of the incumbent party candidates won re-election or the open seat contest with the exception of Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) defeated television Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) to convert the seat for his party.
If Laxalt holds in Nevada and Sens. Kelly and Johnson in Arizona and Wisconsin do the same, the Georgia runoff would decide the majority. If the counting falls as projected here, Republicans would head into the Georgia runoff with a 50-49 advantage, meaning a Democratic victory on Dec. 6 would return the Senate to the 50-50 tie. A Herschel Walker victory would then give Republicans a 51-49 majority.
The House races are still very much undecided with 39 races still uncalled. Considering that 14 of those races are in either California or New York, where it will likely take weeks to arrive at final totals, it could be quite some time until we know the final outcome.
According to the Politico count, 219 races are either called or feature a Republican leading the race. If all of these contests hold, we could see the closest House majority in history.
Therefore, determining the House majority will come down to just a handful of votes from a sizable number of outstanding campaigns, and the complete result won’t be known for several weeks.
The 36 governors’ races are also almost complete, with Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and Oregon uncalled.
Alaska Republican incumbent Mike Dunleavy looks to be in position to potentially clinch re-election outright, thus exceeding the 50Tshibaka mark within the aggregate vote and avoiding a Ranked Choice Voting instant runoff.
In returns that defied polling and favor the Democrats almost across the board, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) leads former news anchorwoman Kari Lake (R), and her advantage may be enough to clinch the office.
Again, taking advantage of a badly split Republican Party, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has a two-percentage point lead with an unknown number of mailed ballots still to count.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R), with a reported 72 percent of the vote counted, holds a five-point lead over incumbent Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D).
Oregon, the site of an interesting three-way race, sees the two major party candidates, former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) and ex-House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R) separated by only a percentage point with still over one-third of the votes remaining to be counted.