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2018 midterms (cont.)
November 20, 2018

Some Republicans are beginning to worry they may lose a Senate seat to Democrats — in Mississippi.

Voters in the state are set to participate in a runoff election on Nov. 27, as neither Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith nor Democratic challenger Mike Espy captured a majority in the midterm election. But Hyde-Smith has been mired in controversy in recent weeks, first for a remark about a "public hanging" and then for saying that making it difficult for liberals to vote sounded like a "great idea." Her campaign dismissed the former comment as an exaggeration and the latter as a joke.

After these gaffes, Republicans are reportedly "nervous" that Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to her seat earlier this year and is now running for a full term, could cost them a Senate seat, with one top party member in the state telling Talking Points Memo that the race "is definitely tighter than what it should be." Talking Points Memo also reports that some private polls show the race has tightened and Hyde-Smith is only up by a few points.

Democrats are engaging in a last-minute push to get out the vote, Politico reports, hoping to increase turnout, specifically among black voters. President Trump appears not to be taking Hyde-Smith's win for granted, as he plans to travel to the state for two rallies on Monday. Trump won Mississippi by 17 points in 2016.

If Espy, the former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, were to actually defeat Hyde-Smith, he would be the first Democratic senator to represent the state in nearly three decades, and the first black senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction. The candidates will square off in a debate Tuesday night. One Republican told Talking Points Memo, "It's all about whether we can get through the debate without saying anything that makes it worse." Brendan Morrow

November 16, 2018

Democrat Stacey Abrams on Friday said that it was not possible for her to win the gubernatorial race in Georgia, admitting defeat against Republican Brian Kemp, who had already declared victory in the hotly contested race, reports NPR.

On Election Day, the race was too close to call, and Abrams accused Kemp of suppressing votes as Georgia's secretary of state in an effort to become governor. "I acknowledge that [Kemp] will be certified the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial elections," Abrams said, saying her remarks were not a concession speech. "Concession means to acknowledge an act is right, true, or proper. ... I cannot concede that." She said she would file a federal lawsuit to contest the "gross mismanagement" of the election. Abrams' campaign has said there was evidence of "misconduct, fraud, or irregularities" that may have been enough "to change or place in doubt the results."

Kemp responded to her speech by applauding her "passion and hard work," but said "we can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past" and must "move forward." Watch Abrams' remarks below, via CBS News. Summer Meza

November 15, 2018

Another red seat turned blue in Southern California on Thursday, with Democrat Katie Porter defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Mimi Walters in the 45th Congressional District.

With the latest vote count, Porter, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, has a 6,203-vote lead over Walters. Walters is a Trump supporter, while Porter said she was running "to hold Donald Trump and the powerful special interests in Washington accountable."

Orange County has been a Republican stronghold for decades, and in 2016, while Hillary Clinton carried the district by 5 percentage points, Walters was re-elected by 17 points. If Democrat Gil Cisneros defeats Republican Young Kim in the 39th Congressional District — the county's last undecided race — Orange County won't have any Republican representatives in Congress. Cisneros took the lead for the first time on Thursday, in a bad sign for Kim's chances. Catherine Garcia

November 15, 2018

Democrat Jared Golden beat incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine's 2nd District on Thursday — and made a little bit of history along the way.

Poliquin actually secured 46.2 percent of the vote to Golden's 45.5 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting, per The New York Times and Politico. But Golden still came out on top due to Maine's ranked-choice voting system. It's the first federal race decided by ranked choice, and Golden's win means Republicans have now been ousted from every single congressional seat in New England.

On Election Day, Golden was slightly behind Poliquin in total votes, but neither candidate reached a majority, the Portland Press Herald reports. Maine's ballots also asked voters to rank their second-choice candidate, leaving the race to be decided by voters who'd ranked an independent candidate first. Golden prevailed in the second-choice round, with 10,232 votes to Poliquin's 4,695.

Maine voters have twice supported ballot initiatives to institute the ranked-choice process, the Press Herald notes. But Poliquin still questioned the legitimacy of the election on Thursday, saying he "won the constitutional 'one-person, one-vote' first choice election on Election Day" in a statement. The two-term congressman also promised to challenge the election results in court.

Regardless of the court's decision, we'll still have Poliquin's remarkably bad campaign ad to enjoy for generations. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 15, 2018

On the morning after the 2018 midterms, President Trump took a few minutes to dance on the political graves of several Republicans who declined to embrace him during the campaign. Among them was Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah). "Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost," Trump said. A week later, it looks like Love has a good shot at winning. On Wednesday evening, Salt Lake and Juab counties released a new dump of 12,000 ballots in Utah's 4th Congressional District race, and Love's deficit to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) shrank to 873 votes.

"With the heavily Republican Utah County expected to update its count on Friday, McAdams' precarious lead of 0.36 percentage points is likely to change, and could potentially erode away entirely," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report agrees:

Both campaigns expressed cautious optimism. "Since Election Day, Mia has consistently improved her margin and is on a steady path to victory," Love campaign manager Dave Hansen said. McAdams' campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, said the vote count has had "ups and downs," but "we feel good about the mayor’s lead and remain optimistic about the remaining votes." Love has filed a lawsuit to halt the counting of ballots in Salt Lake County until her campaign can challenge signatures on provision and mail-in ballots. Peter Weber

November 14, 2018

Democrats are continuing to add to their new majority in the House of Representatives — the party just flipped a seat held by a Republican who was key in the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare.

Andy Kim, who served as a national security aide to former President Barack Obama, defeated two-term Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) in the race for New Jersey's 3rd District, The Associated Press projected on Wednesday.

Prior to the election, this race had been classified as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Kim declared victory on Election Night, but MacArthur did not concede the race, per Asbury Park Press. Elected in 2014, MacArthur was the architect of the controversial MacArthur amendment, a part of the GOP's proposed ObamaCare repeal which would have allowed states to opt out of some of the health care law's requirements.

Since Election Day, Democrats have continued to pull off victories in key House races that had remained undecided last week. In New Jersey, in particular, they have made significant gains, as this is the fourth House seat the Democrats have won from the GOP in the state this year, reports The Hill. Kim's victory means that in the 116th Congress, New Jersey will have just a single Republican representative for the first time since former President Theodore Roosevelt's administration, The New York Times reports. Brendan Morrow

November 12, 2018

Democratic real estate entrepreneur Harley Rouda has narrowly unseated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), apparently ending his 30 years representing California's 48th Congressional District, The Associated Press projected on Saturday. Rohrabacher, a 71-year-old former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan best known for his outspoken support for Russia and legal marijuana, has not conceded the race, but Rouda has declared victory. Rouda, a 65-year-old former Republican, was Rohrabacher's first serious challenger in one of the most conservative districts in Orange County, the home of Richard Nixon, John Wayne, and in many ways the modern conservative movement.

California's 48th District still has a 10-point Republican voter advantage, but Rohrabacher's strong alignment with President Trump and vociferous defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin did not play well in the district. Rohrabacher, a former Cold Warrior, has been nicknamed "Putin's favorite congressman," and fellow California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy was recorded saying in June 2016 that there are "two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." (He later said he was joking.) "The Russian thing was ridiculous," Tony Quinn, demographer and California campaign analyst, tells the Los Angeles Times. "That didn't help him."

With Rohrabacher's loss, Democrats have flipped three of the six seats they targeted heavily, with the other three trending more Democratic with every vote update. At the very least, California Republicans will hold no more than 11 of California's 53 congressional seats. Democrats have already gained at least 32 seats, giving them a 227-198 majority in the next Congress, with 10 races still undecided. Peter Weber

November 9, 2018

On Friday, a judge in Arizona will hear a challenge from four local Republican parties who sued Wednesday night to limit the votes counted in Maricopa and Pima counties, the state's two biggest and most Democratic counties, or expand the ability of rural, Republican-leaning counties to count contested mail-in ballots, too. Thanks to votes counted mostly in Maricopa County, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took a narrow lead in Arizona's still-unresolved Senate race.

Pima, Maricopa, and a handful of other Arizona counties allow voters to "cure" or resolve discrepancies between their on-file signatures and the ones on their ballot for five days after an election; other counties allow voters to "cure" their ballots only up until polls close on Election Day. The Yuma, Navajo, Apache, and Maricopa County Republican parties want the judge to stop Maricopa and Pima county election officials from contacting voters after Election Day or allow all counties too. On Thursday, Maricopa County officials said only about 5,600 ballots need such verification, The Associated Press reports, but every vote will count in this neck-and-neck race.

As of Thursday night, Sinema leads Republican Martha McSally by about 9,000 votes, out of 2.2 million cast. Maricopa County has about 345,000 ballots to count, a famously arduous and time-consuming process in Arizona, and about 127,000 are still to be counted elsewhere in the state. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said his office, using a 1980s-era computer system, can tally only 75,000 votes a day, and it may not be finished until Nov. 15. "We know there's urgency out there, but we want to get it right, not quick," he said. Peter Weber

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