At this point, only three states saw incumbent Senators being defeated: Doug Jones (D-AL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). Under Georgia law, since both of their Senate races, the regular cycle campaign and the special election, failed to produce a majority winner, a runoff election will be held for each position on January 5th.
In races of note, Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) defied pollsters projecting a Democratic victory for state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) and won by nine percentage points. Despite over $100 million being spent against both Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both were re-elected with victory percentages exceeding 58 and 54%, respectively. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (MI) scored a close win over GOP challenger John James; Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) recorded strong victories despite polling suggesting that both could lose.
In the four open seat campaigns, the incumbent party won each. The new Senators are Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Two races, in addition to both Georgia Senate seats going to runoffs, remain uncalled but with a clear trend. With only 50% of the votes counted in Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) has a strong 62-32% lead. In North Carolina, with the post-election ballot reception period closing on November 12th, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) looks to have a small lead that won’t be surpassed, again despite polling projecting a Democratic victory for party nominee Cal Cunningham.
Assuming the uncalled races remain Republican, the GOP will have a 50-48 advantage heading into the Georgia runoffs, meaning they will retain the majority with a win in at least one of the two Senate races to be decided January 5th.
Last night’s national election, as predicted, looks to be headed to political overtime.
The presidential race won’t be decided for more than a day, and possibly not until all ballots are received and counted in Pennsylvania. The state’s post-election ballot reception deadline is Friday, November 6th, at 5:00 pm.
It appears that former Vice President Joe Biden (D) has the inside track to unseat the President, but Mr. Trump still has a narrow path to victory.
It is likely that the Republicans have held the Senate majority despite what appears to be a close loss at the top of the ticket. Defending 13 of the most vulnerable 16 Senate seats, the GOP may break even. Converting Alabama and leading in Michigan offsets the loss of seats in Arizona and Colorado. Four races remain undecided.
Republicans had a much better night in the House than expected. With 43 races still uncalled, a reasonable projection suggests the Democrats will return to the House with a majority margin approximately seven seats less than in the current Congress. This would make the new majority 226D-209R, and certainly put House control front and center for the 2022 election cycle.
In the 11 Governor’s races, we saw one state flip from Democrat to Republican, the open Montana race that completed a Republican sweep of the top four statewide offices. At-Large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) was elected the state’s new Governor replacing term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) who lost the Senate race to incumbent Steve Daines (R).
Polling and predictions generally proved unreliable. Once more, the big leads projected for the Democratic presidential nominee in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin did not materialize, while cumulative polling projections did correctly forecast Arizona and potentially Georgia. For the fourth consecutive major statewide race in Florida, the overwhelming number of pollsters failed to correctly project the winner.
It appears the cumulative polling community is potentially wrong in several Senate races including North Carolina, Maine, and the Michigan margin even if Sen. Gary Peters (D) rebounds to win. They also consistently under-estimated Georgia Sen. David Perdue’s electoral strength.
The media projection early in the evening of Democrats gaining seats in the House also proved incorrect.
The projected record turnout may not be as high as many projected. While it is clear we will exceed the 136,792,535 voters we saw in 2016, which was a record participation level at the time, the grand total in this election may not reach the 150 million mark that many analysts were suggesting, and very likely not the 155 million others predicted. We are likely to venture beyond 140 million, but how much further remains to be seen when all of the states have reported, and ballots completely tabulated.
We will have further coverage of the finer details in the coming days.
Change Research (10/29-11/2; 920 MT likely voters; online) released the final open seat Montana gubernatorial poll and finds at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman), who lost a close 2016 race for Governor, leading Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (R), 48-44%, as the two candidates dash for the political finish line. The winner replaces term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) who is running for the US Senate.
After several polls reported State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D) either tied or virtually tied, the latest Siena College/New York Times survey (10/18-20; 758 MT likely voters; live interview) sees Mr. Rosendale now establishing a four-point edge, 50-46%.
Another campaign that has polled tight for weeks is the open at-large seat in Montana. Now, a new survey from Strategies 360 (10/15-20; 500 MT likely voters; online & text) confirms the trend, finding State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D) tied at 46%.
The aforementioned Strategies 360 Montana (see MT-AL above) poll also tested the open Governor’s race. The ballot test finds US Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) taking a 48-41% lead over Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) in the battle to replace term-limited Governor and US Senate candidate Steve Bullock (D).
Another example of polling conducted over relatively the same period but producing drastically different results just occurred in Montana. The Data for Progress organization polling for the Crooked Media and Indivisible political blog (9/30-10/5; 737 MT voters chosen from a web panel and SMS texting; weighted) finds Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock eclipsing Sen. Steve Daines (R), 48-47%. Within the same period, however, Emerson College, using a similar methodology (10/5-7; 500 MT likely voters; SMS texting; weighted) actually finds Sen. Daines recording his widest margin, a nine-point, 52-43% spread.
A Siena College/New York Times survey (9/14-16; 625 MT likely voters) finds Democratic former state Representative and 2018 congressional nominee Kathleen Williams taking a small lead over Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale. The ballot test gives Ms. Williams a 44-41% edge, confirming that this race is turning into a toss-up campaign.
In 2018, Ms. Williams lost to Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman), now the GOP nominee for Governor, by a 51-46% count. In late October of that year, two polls found the contest leaning to Ms. Williams or falling into a tie, while the final research study conducted just before Election Day, from Change Research, almost exactly pegged the actual result.
The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have filed a federal lawsuit in Montana claiming that Gov. Steve Bullock (D) does not have the legal authority to allow counties to choose whether to send all voters unsolicited absentee ballots. All but one major county is opting to do so, as they all did in the primary. Montana will likely be a top five state for Trump, and with the Governor, Senate, and at-large House seat all up for grabs, this small state carries major importance in this general election.
A new survey from Democratic polling firm Expedition Strategies (8/22-27; 400 MT likely voters via live land line or cell phone interview) finds Democratic open seat candidate Kathleen Williams, a former state Representative, taking a small 49-47% lead over State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), after the latter man had opened a lead as large as six points in an early August poll (WPA Intelligence; 8/9-11; 500 MT likely voters: 51-45% Rosendale). With leaners added for both candidates, the Expedition point spread advances to 51-48% in Ms. Williams’ favor.
The fact that President Trump leads in this same poll only 48-44% suggests at least a slight Democratic skew since Montana will likely be a top five state for the President, especially when recalling he recorded a 20 point 56-36% margin here in 2016.
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