What is the real final Democrat count in the House of Representatives? None of the presentations, of election information, make the House situation obvious. They could all use a remedial course in the visual presentation of quantitative information. The RealClearPolitics elections House results page is about the best, but allow me to make the situation really clear, laying out the numbers and then giving the historical context.
Running the Numbers:
As of Wednesday evening, there were several undeclared races. These, not displayed in the data summaries, are the source of confusion. So, here are the House facts, by the numbers, as of the evening of 7 November 2018:
222 Democrats have won,
197 Republicans have won, so
419 races are won, of 435, so
16 are undecided.
The RealClearPolitics House page shows the 16 House races that are not called. The Republicans are ahead in 9 of these, so the best case for Republicans is a loss of 7 more seats. This will make the next Congress:
229 Democrats: 206 Republicans best case
238 Democrats: 197 Republicans worst case
Compare this to the start of the current, 115th Congress:
194 Democrats: 241 Republicans
35 seats, best case, 44 seats, worst case, will be lost by the President’s party in the House of Representatives. [UPDATE, 8 November: the Republicans decreased from 9 to 7 races with small leads. This does not change the upper or lower limits laid out above.]
Additionally, the Senate Republicans have gained one to three seats, depending on the outcome of the Arizona election, and of the projected run-off in Mississippi, which has a 50 percent rule, forcing a runoff between the two top vote-getters if no one initially breaks through the 50 percent plus 1 vote barrier. [UPDATE, 8 November: Broward County, Florida, is back in the news, determined to count until the Democrats win the Senate seat, and possibly the governorship. This has prompted Senator Marco Rubio to come out swinging on social media, one of his Tweets shown below. The 100% reporting claims on websites is simply not accurate.]
#Broward election supervisors ongoing violation of #Florida law requiring timely reporting isn’t just annoying incompetence. It has opened the door for lawyers to come here & try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate & Florida Cabinet
There is much spin around the numbers, driven by support, opposition, or contempt for President Trump. Yet, the relevant facts are readily available. Consider every Presidency, starting with Truman, looking only at the first term midterm Congressional elections. There have some truly dramatic midterm elections before the Truman presidency, but leave them aside, on the initial assumption that the political environment changes over time.
- Presidents losing both House and Senate seats: Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Ford, Carter, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, Obama
- Presidents losing only House seats: Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Trump
- Presidents holding or gaining both House and Senate seats: George W. Bush
No president has lost Senate seats, while holding or gaining House seats. The 2002 midterm electorate was driven, in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, by distrust of the Democratic Party, as weak on national defense and law enforcement.
Five other presidents join President Trump in the range of 35 to 44 House seat losses.
- Truman: 45
- Johnson: 47
- Ford: 48
- Clinton: 52
- Obama: 63
President Trump will gain 1 to 3 Senate seats, joining four other presidents. This compares to:
- Kennedy: 3
- Nixon: 2
- Reagan: 1
- G.W. Bush 2
Those are the un-spun numbers, from which I invite you to argue, diagnose, and prognosticate.