Well into Wednesday morning, the Presidential and key Senate races remain undecided, and margins in some states will be unbearably small. Recounts should be expected in several states. Nothing from Election Day suggests that impactful violations of election law have occurred. There will surely be anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but the process moving forward is a transparent and bipartisan process, with an army of lawyers and observers on both sides.
The Presidential Election: Millions of votes are still being counted and there remains a clear path to victory for former Vice President Biden, with or without Pennsylvania. Even now, most pundits have Biden as the favorite, but the remaining vote count is a complex process. While not getting into every combination, a Biden victory in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin(where he leads, albeit slightly), would leave three paths to being named President-Elect: winning any of Georgia, Nevada or Pennsylvania. He has a fighting shot in all three. Conversely, President Trump still has a viable path to re-election, though a steeper climb.
The Senate Elections: Results are a major disappointment for Democrats and a win for Republicans. Even after raising record amounts of money, Democrats are unlikely to gain a majority (there is a narrow possible path to 50/50 that runs straight through Georgia, twice). Some races are still too close to call: Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), David Perdue (R-GA) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) are still waiting to learn if they are keeping their jobs.
The House of Representatives Elections: Democrats lost a few seats but will very likely retain control of the House, raising a lot of questions about future leadership. Some Members of Congress in tight races were able to hold on to their seat, like Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), who would be a key player in an infrastructure package. Others like moderate Democrat Collin Peterson (D-MN) lost. There are also a lot of firsts in the House. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11) will be the youngest Member of Congress in modern history, and Mondaire Jones (D-NY 17) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15) will be the first openly gay, black Members of Congress.
SCOTUS: A 6-3 court could potentially have a role in deciding the legal question of when votes need to arrive. However, prognostication on this is premature, and frankly, pointless.
State Legislatures: As expected, there were no clear state trends detected in yesterday’s voting. Reflecting the narrow divide in the US as a whole, state results reflected more of a status quo outlook.
There were 11 races for Governor yesterday, represented by 4 Democrats and 7 Republicans. Those numbers will be similar next year as only Montana voters made a party switch by electing former Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte with 54% of the vote. The only close race was in North Carolina where incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper appears to have won with 51.5% of the vote. Republicans will be the Executive in 27 states, and Democrats 23.
Control of state legislatures takes on extra importance following the 2020 census. A majority of states allow state Representatives and Senators to draw district boundaries for themselves and their Members of Congress every ten years and party control is crucial to determine an edge that can last for a decade, especially when that party also controls the Governor’s office. Most closely watched last night were races affecting the Minnesota State Senate, where Democrats were trying to take to gain complete control of the state. Presently, there are too many races that are outstanding there. New York Democrats did not gain a veto proof majority in their state Senate while Kansas Republicans won a supermajority in their Senate.
Statewide ballot measures always provide insight into voter attitudes, particularly those addressing social issues. Yesterday, voters in four states approved the legalization of cannabis for recreational use and Mississippi voters agreed to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The most expensive ballot measure in US history was decided in California yesterday as voters approved Proposition 22. The new law exempts app-based drivers from a state law classifying them as employees of companies such as Lyft, Uber and DoorDash. Combined spending on Prop. 22 will ultimately top $200 million. California voters also defeated an attempt to increase commercial property tax rates.
In Colorado, a measure to create a statewide pool to pay for extended family leave easily passed, while Florida voters approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Finally, Mississippi voters approved of a new design for that state’s flag which replaces an image of the Confederate flag with the state’s official flower, a magnolia.