The Races That Are Still Too Close To Call

UPDATE (Nov. 8, 3:45 p.m., 2018): We’ve updated the numbers and status of the elections below, and we’ve also removed the Georgia 6th District,16 North Carolina 9th District17 and Washington 8th District18 from the list, as they have been called for Democrat Lucy McBath, Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Kim Schrier, respectively. Our original write-ups on those races can be found in the footnotes.

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Everyone has voted, the results are in and we know who will control the Senate and the House — but several races remain unresolved. (We warned you this might happen.) As of 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, news outlets have yet to project winners in 18 races: three for the U.S. Senate, 14 for the U.S. House and one for Georgia governor. These races have the potential to meaningfully change the narrative around this election — for example, Democrats could pick up 42 House seats instead of 29, or turn a disappointing showing in the Senate into a draw. Here’s the state of each undecided race — including our best estimate on who might prevail when all is said and done.

Senate

As things stand right now, Republicans have picked up two seats in the Senate, but that net gain could be anywhere from zero to three when the races in Arizona, Florida and Mississippi get resolved. In Arizona, Republican Rep. Martha McSally currently leads Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema by about 1 percentage point. However, the Arizona Republic estimates that more than 600,000 votes have yet to be counted statewide — including 90,000 in blue-leaning Pima County and 472,000 (!) in Maricopa County (the Phoenix area). Maricopa has some very blue corners and some very red corners, so without knowing where the outstanding ballots are coming from, this is a totally wide-open race. Reportedly, the state will issue updated vote totals at 5 p.m. local time every day starting on Thursday, Nov. 8.

In Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson initially appeared to have conceded early on Wednesday morning (his opponent, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, also claimed victory) but has since reversed course. The Democratic-vote-rich counties of Broward and West Palm are still counting an unknown number of votes, but as of Thursday afternoon, Nelson is now just 0.22 percentage points behind Scott. That’s important because, under Florida law, any election within a 0.25-point margin triggers a manual recount (where all ballots are retabulated by hand), and any election within a 0.5-point margin triggers a machine recount. We should know the final unofficial margin (and what kind of recount it triggers, if any) by Saturday. But don’t hold your breath, Democrats: Recounts rarely overturn election results.

Finally, as we expected, the special U.S. Senate election in Mississippi will proceed to a runoff on Nov. 27 as none of the candidates secured 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will be a heavy favorite against Democratic former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy thanks to the state’s dark red hue.

House

Of the 14 unresolved House races, Democrats lead or look like they’re in good position in 10 of them. Here’s the full lowdown:

Five of the races are in California: specifically, the 10th, 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th districts. It’s not unusual for close races in California to still be uncalled even a couple days after the election. That’s because mail ballots in California only have to be postmarked by Election Day; they can arrive at elections offices as late as Friday and still be counted. Since so many people in California vote by mail, that means that thousands of ballots are probably still in transit. Currently, the Republican candidates have leads of between 2 and 4 percentage points in three of the five districts. However, late-arriving ballots tend to lean Democratic in California, so those GOP leads will probably shrink, if not reverse entirely. Because of this, we’re guessing that Democrats might win most, if not all, of these districts when all is said and done. The Democratic candidate already leads in two of them, including the California 49th, which the Associated Press has called for Democrat Mike Levin.
Although some networks have called the Georgia 7th District, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux has not yet conceded. Republican Rep. Rob Woodall has a lead of less than 1,000 votes, which doesn’t look very safe considering that provisional and overseas ballots have not yet been counted.
The Maine 2nd District will probably not be decided until next week. Several towns have yet to report their votes, but both Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden appear to be stuck below a majority. If that holds, it means that Maine’s new system of ranked-choice voting will decide the winner. A computer program will redistribute the votes of the last-place finisher, independent William Hoar, among the other three candidates based on who those voters listed second on their ranked-choice ballots. If a candidate still doesn’t have the majority, the third-place finisher, independent Tiffany Bond, will then be eliminated, and her voters redistributed. At that point, either Poliquin or Golden will have a majority of the remaining votes, and whoever does will win the congressional seat. Golden is probably favored in this scenario; both Bond and Hoar indicated in a debate that they would prefer Golden over Poliquin (we’ll see if their voters agree). But it might not end there: If Poliquin ends up finishing first in the initial returns but loses the ranked-choice tabulations to Golden, he has left the door open to a court challenge.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Jim Hagedorn held a slim lead over Democrat Dan Feehan in the Minnesota 1st District. If he holds on, it will be the second seat that Republicans flipped from blue to red this year. The Associated Press has called the race for Hagedorn — and he is definitely favored — but Feehan has not yet conceded.
Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur and Democrat Andy Kim are locked in an uncertain battle in the New Jersey 3rd District. From Tuesday into Wednesday, the two traded leads of 2,000+ votes. Kim declared victory on Wednesday night, but MacArthur has not yet given up; he says there are still 7,000 ballots left to count (although most of them are in relatively Democratic Burlington County). Mail ballots continue to be delivered through Thursday, and election officials say the counting of provisional ballots could take weeks.
The New Mexico 2nd District was supposedly in the bag for Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell — until Wednesday night, when absentee ballots from Doña Ana County unexpectedly put Democrat Xochitl Torres Small into a 1-percentage-point lead. That was enough for the AP to call the race, although our colleagues at ABC haven’t made a projection yet.
Like in Georgia, some but not all news outlets have called the New York 22nd for Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. However, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney isn’t ready to concede, and rightfully so: Brindisi’s lead is just over 1,000 votes, yet more than 13,000 absentee ballots aren’t yet included in those totals.
In the New York 27th District, Republican Rep. Chris Collins appears to have defeated Democratic Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray. ABC has projected the race, and even McMurray conceded on Tuesday night. However, McMurray has now retracted his concession, arguing that 18,000 uncounted ballots could reverse Collins’s almost-3,000 vote lead. Out of an abundance of caution and with the specter of a recount looming, the AP has not made a call here yet.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride in the Texas 23rd District. Republican Rep. Will Hurd initially declared victory, but then a late spurt of ballots put Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones into the lead. Then an apparent error in the vote tabulations was found, giving Hurd the advantage once more. He currently has a lead of over 1,000 votes, but Ortiz Jones says she will not concede until every vote has been counted.
Despite what President Trump said at his Wednesday press conference, Republican Rep. Mia Love has not yet lost in the Utah 4th District — although she trails Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams by a sizable 3 percentage points. The reason no projection has been made is that it may take up to two weeks to count all the mail ballots in the race. More than 200,000 ballots in Salt Lake and Utah counties have yet to be counted (although not all of them are in the 4th District), and we won’t get an update from Utah County — Love’s political base — until Friday.

Governor

Finally, the gubernatorial race in Georgia remains uncalled — not because Democratic former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has a chance at taking the lead, but because Republican former19 Secretary of State Brian Kemp needs to win at least 50 percent plus one vote in order to avoid a rematch with Abrams in a Dec. 4 runoff. Unofficial election results on the state’s website give Kemp 50.3 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting. However, that doesn’t include some absentee and provisional ballots, which became a flashpoint in Georgia in the race’s closing days. A judge ordered that absentee ballots with mismatched signatures in Gwinnett County be treated as provisional ballots (and voters given the opportunity to appeal or confirm their identity), and up to 53,000 Georgians whose voter-registration applications were put on hold may have had to cast provisional ballots if they couldn’t prove their eligibility at the polls. Believing that the outstanding ballots could still force a runoff, the Abrams campaign has refused to concede, but she20 would need to net more than 25,000 votes in order to deny Kemp a majority. That seems unlikely, given that the secretary of state’s office says there are only about 25,000 votes left to count.

We’ll update this post on a semi-regular basis with the latest news and numbers from these races.

 

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