TagU.S. House

Republican win certified in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, with challenge possible

The state of Iowa certified results in the election for its 2nd Congressional District, which indicate Republicans are primed to pick up their second open seat previously held by a Democrat in the 2020 U.S. House elections. Certified results showed Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) beating Rita Hart (D) by six votes. Hart indicated she would challenge the results of the election with the U.S. House. 

Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) did not run for re-election this cycle. The other open seat Republicans picked up was Michigan’s 3rd, currently represented by Justin Amash (L).

Under the Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969, the challenge will be referred to the House Administration Committee. If the committee recommends the matter to the full House, the chamber will decide the outcome by a majority vote. Article I, Section 5, of the U.S. Constitution establishes that each chamber of Congress “shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members.” 

Democrats currently control the House, and they are expected to maintain their majority when the next Congress convenes.

Democrats picked up three seats in open races for districts represented by Republicans: Georgia’s 7th, North Carolina’s 2nd, and North Carolina’s 6th. There are still two remaining open seat races without a clear winner.

Across all 2020 Congressional elections, 16 seats changed hands. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate while Republicans picked up one. In the House, Democrats picked up three seats while Republicans picked up 10 seats.



Winners certified in Arizona Senate and Iowa’s 2nd, legal challenges developing in New York’s 22nd

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

A total of 470 seats in the U.S. Congress (35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) were up for election on November 3, 2020, including two special elections for U.S. Senate. Below are recent developments in four battleground races—one for U.S. Senate and three for the U.S. House.

U.S. Senate special election in Arizona: The state of Arizona certified Mark Kelly’s (D) win over Sen. Martha McSally (R) on Nov. 30. Because this is a special election, the winner may be sworn in once the state certifies results. Kelly’s campaign announced that his swearing-in would take place at noon on December 2nd. He will fill the rest of the 2017-2022 term former Sen. John McCain (R) won in 2016.

California’s 21st Congressional District: On Nov. 27, the Associated Press projected that David Valadao (R) defeated incumbent TJ Cox (D). Unofficial results showed Valadao ahead by 1,754 votes. Valadao declared victory in the race on November 25, while Cox had not conceded as of November 30. The legal deadline for results certification in the district is December 3rd. 

Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District: On Nov. 28, Iowa completed a recount in the race between Rita Hart (D) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R). Hart requested a full recount on Nov. 13 when unofficial results showed Miller-Meeks leading by 47 votes. Following the recount, Miller-Meeks reportedly led by six votes out of more than 394,400 cast, making it the closest congressional race in the district since at least 1920. A state canvassing board was set to meet on Nov. 30 to certify the results.

New York’s 22nd Congressional District: The result in the race between incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D) and Claudia Tenney remains too close to call. Brindisi held an apparent 12-vote lead before the Thanksgiving holiday. On Nov. 30, Tenney’s campaign said correction of an error in Herkimer County gave her a 13-vote lead. There are more than 2,000 outstanding disputed absentee or affidavit ballots, and the state Supreme Court is expected to rule on their fate.

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Expected census delays may postpone state redistricting efforts in 2021

On Nov. 19, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced that, “during post-collection processing, certain processing anomalies have been discovered” in the 2020 United States Census. Dillingham said he had directed the bureau “to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible.” Also on Nov. 19, The New York Times reported that “a growing number of snags in the massive data-processing operation that generates population totals had delayed the completion of population calculations at least until Jan. 26, [2021], and perhaps to mid-February.”

This expected delay could postpone state redistricting efforts in 2021. At least one state (California) has already extended its redistricting deadlines in light of the uncertainty surrounding the conclusion of the census. On July 17, the California Supreme Court unanimously ordered the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to release draft district plans by Nov. 1, 2021, and final district plans by Dec. 15, 2021. The original deadlines were July 1, 2021, and August 15, 2021, respectively.

The census, apportionment, and redistricting: Every ten years, the United States conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. Census results determine congressional apportionment (i.e., the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives). Because the U.S. Constitution requires that seats in the House be apportioned to the states on the basis of population, a state can gain seats if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states.

Federal law requires congressional and legislative districts to have substantively equal populations. States use census data during their redistricting processes to ensure compliance with this requirement. The standard census timeline calls for the bureau to submit apportionment counts to the President by Dec. 31 and redistricting data to the states by April 1, 2021.

In the 2010 cycle, redistricting authorities enacted 43 new congressional district maps and 50 new state legislative district maps. The majority of these – 63 maps (31 congressional and 32 state legislative), 67.74 percent of the total– were enacted in 2011. In 2012, 28 maps (12 congressional and 16 state legislative) were enacted, 30.11 percent of the total. The remaining maps were enacted in the first six months of 2013.

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U.S. House elects leadership for 117th Congress 

Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives held elections for leadership positions in the 117th Congress, which convenes on January 3, 2021. The speaker of the House, who presides over sessions of the chamber and is second in the line of presidential succession, is elected on the first day the new Congress convenes. Other leadership positions are elected in meetings prior to the start of a new Congress.

House Democrats held their leadership elections remotely on November 18. Current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was selected as the Democratic nominee for speaker of the House. She was unopposed. Pelosi was elected speaker of the House on January 3, 2019. She previously served as House speaker from 2007 to 2010 and became House minority leader after Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 elections.  

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was re-elected as majority leader, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was re-elected as majority whip, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was re-elected as Democratic Caucus chairman. All three were unopposed. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) defeated Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) 135-92 for the role of assistant speaker, the fourth-ranking position in the House. In the 116th Congress, the position was held by Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who was elected to the U.S. Senate.

House Republicans held leadership elections on November 17. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was re-elected as minority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was re-elected as minority whip, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was re-elected as Republican Conference chairman, and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) was re-elected as Republican Policy Committee chairman. All were unopposed. 

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) was re-elected as National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chair. The election for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair will be held the week of November 30. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) announced they would run for the position after Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) said she would not run again.

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Seventy-five U.S. congressional elections were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer

Seventy-five congressional races in 2020 were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer, including eight for U.S. Senate and 67 for U.S. House. Thirty-five races were decided by fewer than five percentage points; three of those were U.S. Senate races and 32 were U.S. House races.

Democratic candidates won 40 of these elections and Republican candidates won 35. Out of the races decided by fewer than five percentage points, Democrats won 22 and Republicans won 13.

Fourteen U.S. House races remained uncalled as of Nov. 18, and eight seemed likely to be decided by fewer than 10 percentage points.

In comparison, 102 races were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer in 2018. Of these, 12 were elections for the U.S. Senate and 90 were elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 49 of these elections and Republican candidates won 53.

Fifty races in 2018 were decided by fewer than five percentage points: five elections for the U.S. Senate and 45 elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 24 of these elections and Republican candidates won 26.

There were 42 and 56 congressional races decided by 10 percentage points or fewer in 2016 and 2014, respectively. In 2016, nine were elections for the U.S. Senate and 33 were elections for the U.S. House, with candidates from each major party winning 21 of the elections. In 2014, seven were elections for the U.S. Senate and 49 were elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 32 of these elections and Republican candidates won 24.

For races decided by fewer than five percentage points, there were 22 in 2016 and 31 in 2014. In 2016, five elections were for the U.S. Senate and 17 were for the U.S. House seats, with Democratic candidates winning 14 of these elections and Republicans winning eight. In 2014, five were elections for the U.S. Senate and 26 were for the U.S. House, with Democratic candidates winning 17 of these elections and Republican candidates winning 14.



Average U.S. House margin of victory on track to be narrower than 2018, setting a decade-low record

The average margin of victory among U.S. House races that were callable as of Nov. 18 was 30.0 percentage points, the narrowest since at least 2012, according to a Ballotpedia analysis. The previous record low was 30.2 percentage points in 2018. The average margin of victory in callable U.S. Senate races was 18.9 percentage points, wider than the 16.8 percentage point average in 2018 but narrower than in any other year since 2012.

The narrowest margin of victory in any callable race was Burgess Owens’ (R) 0.57 percentage point margin over incumbent Ben McAdams (D) in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. McAdams defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) by a 0.26 percentage point margin in 2018, that year’s second-closest U.S. House race.

The narrowest margin of victory in the U.S. Senate was incumbent Gary Peters’ (D) 1.35 percentage point margin over John James (R) in Michigan. Peters’ win was the fifth-closest by overall number of votes. The U.S. Senate race decided by the fewest votes was incumbent Steve Daines’ (R) 31,000-vote win over Steve Bullock (D) in Montana.

The widest margin of victory, excluding uncontested races, was Neal Dunn’s (R) 96.1 percentage point margin over write-in Kim O’Connor (I) in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Among U.S. Senate races, the widest margin was Cynthia Lummis’ (R) 46.1 percentage point margin over Merav Ben-David (D) in Wyoming.

Ballotpedia’s analysis of Congressional margins of victory will be updated and expanded as final certified results become available.



10 percent of open Congressional seats changed party hands in 2020

Forty Congressional incumbents—four in the Senate and 36 in the House—did not run for re-election in 2020. Of these 40 open seats, four (10 percent) changed party hands as a result of the 2020 elections, and an additional three races were still too close to call as of Nov. 18. All four changes occurred in the House, where Democrats picked up three seats held by Republicans and Republicans picked up one seat held by a Libertarian.

The group of 40 incumbents who did not run for re-election included 10 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and one Libertarian. They represented 8.5 percent of all 470 Congressional offices up for election.

Across all 2020 Congressional elections, 16 seats changed hands. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate while Republicans picked up one. In the House, Democrats picked up three seats while Republicans picked up 10 seats.

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Burgess Owens defeats incumbent Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District

Burgess Owens (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Ben McAdams (D) and John Molnar (L) in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. 

McAdams was first elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Mia Love (R) 50.1% to 49.9%—a margin of 694 votes. His 2018 election made the 4th District one of 30 House Districts that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 and that a Democrat represented in 2020.

Owens played professional football with the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, including as part of the Raiders’ 1981 Super Bowl Championship team. Owens later founded Second Chance 4 Youth, a nonprofit supporting incarcerated juveniles.

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Democrats were projected to maintain their majority after the 2020 elections. We’ve called 421 races so far. Democrats have won 213 seats and Republicans have won 203. So far, 13 seats have changed party hands. Republicans won nine seats currently held by Democrats and one held by a Libertarian. Democrats won three seats held by Republicans. 



One-sixth of U.S. House retirees in 2020 won re-election in 2018 by less than six points

Of the 36 U.S. House incumbents that did not run for re-election in 2020, six (16.7%) won re-election in 2018 by less than six points. That’s a higher percentage than in both 2018 (10.3%) and 2016 (7.3%).

Exactly one-third of 2020 retirees won re-election in 2018 by more than 36 points. That’s a higher percentage than 2018 (27.5%) but lower than 2016 (41.4%). The 2020 retiree with the largest margin of victory in 2018 was Jose Serrano, who won re-election to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District by 92 percentage points.

One 2020 retiree, Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), was unopposed in his last re-election campaign. That matches the number of 2016 retirees who were previously unopposed. The 2018 election cycle had two retirees who were previously unopposed.

The 36 members of the U.S. House in this analysis do not include members of the 116th Congress who left office early. Of those 36 members, nine are Democrats, 26 are Republicans, and one is a Libertarian.



Van Duyne declared winner in Texas’ 24th Congressional District

Beth Van Duyne (R) defeated Candace Valenzuela (D) and three other candidates in the general election for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Kenny Marchant (R), who was first elected in 2004, did not run for re-election.

Van Duyne worked as a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration. She was the Mayor of Irving from 2011-2017.

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Republicans need to win a net 21 seats to win control of the chamber.

Outlets have called 415 races so far. Democrats won 215 seats and Republicans won 200. So far, 11 seats have changed party hands. Republicans won seven seats currently held by Democrats and one held by a Libertarian. Democrats won three seats held by Republicans.



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