The picture is getting clearer in the Senate and House.
I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”
Today's read: 10 minutes.
- Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) officially announced his plans to run for Speaker of the House if Republicans win the majority. (The announcement)
- Russia announced plans to withdraw from the key Ukrainian city of Kherson. (The withdrawal)
- Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) penned a handwritten apology to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for comments last month in which he made light of the attack on her husband. (The apology)
- President Biden held a press conference yesterday to tout unexpected Democratic strength in the midterms and reaffirm his intentions to run for a second term in 2024. (The presser)
- The Supreme Court appears closely divided in an adoption case challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which makes it difficult to remove Native American children from their tribes and heritage. (The case)
Our 'Quick Hits' section is created in partnership with Ground News, a website and app that rates the bias of news coverage and news outlets.
It's official: We're headed to a runoff. Neither Raphael Warnock (D) nor Herschel Walker (R) were able to capture 50% of the vote, which by the election rules in Georgia means the two will face off in a December 6 runoff election. 49.4% of the vote went to Warnock, 48.5% went to Walker, and the Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver received 2% of the vote.
In Arizona, we may not know who wins the Senate race between Mark Kelly (D) and Blake Masters (R) or who wins the gubernatorial race between Katie Hobbs (D) and Kari Lake (R) until Thursday night. That is when reporters and election experts in the state expect to see a huge batch of mail ballots that were hand delivered to polling places on Tuesday get counted. In Maricopa County alone, there are an estimated 400,000 to 410,000 such ballots, according to local reporters. They include:
- 17,000 ballots cast on election day but yet to be counted.
- 239,116 early ballots left to process and tabulate
- 143,779 early votes left to verify
- 7,885 estimated provisional ballots left to research and certify
The early tallies of those ballots — and how they break for the candidates — will likely give us a clearer idea as to who is winning. Since yesterday's newsletter, both races have moved decidedly in the direction of Arizona's Republican candidates, though they still trail. The governor's race, in particular, looks to be tightening, while Masters is closing Kelly's lead in the Senate race but has a tougher hill to climb.
The Senate race in Nevada is still too close to call, but Democrats got good news from Jon Ralston, the legendary Nevada election reporter. Heading into the race, Ralston had predicted Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto would squeak by Republican Adam Laxalt. After the first wave of results came in, he started to backtrack, joking that he wished he could delete his predictions (due to high rural turnout).
But last night, Ralston gave an update that there were about 110,000 mail-in ballots remaining, and posited that if Cortez Masto continued to win them at the clip she had been (roughly 65%), she'd win easily.
"If her margin decreases from 65-30 to 60-30, for instance, she would still win decisively," he said on Twitter. "If it is 60-35, same. If it's 55-30, same. If it's 55-35, same. She wins in all those models. Buckle up."
In other words: as it stands right now, Cortez Masto has the inside track.
The big picture.
Republicans have the inside track to a majority in the House of Representatives, but need to win two of the three races mentioned above to get a Senate majority — which looks increasingly unlikely. However, they could still take the governorship in Arizona. While the "red wave" never materialized, running the table in a few critical remaining races could salvage what looked like a very bad night just 24 hours ago. It's going to come down to the wire.
The House update.
Again: Republicans should be able to win a House majority, but it is a lot closer than anyone expected. Here is how David Wasserman described the state of play:
The NBC News House estimate is that Republicans will win 220 seats plus or minus 10 seats, meaning the fate of the House rests with nine uncalled competitive races in California, six in New York, two in Nevada, two in Oregon, two in Arizona, two in Colorado and a smattering in other states. Republicans have a slightly better than even chance of taking the House, but this could take more than a week to sort out (especially in slow-counting California and Arizona), and could depend on recounts. If it weren't for GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin's coattails in the New York governor's race, Democrats might be favorites to hold onto their majority.
Since yesterday's newsletter, we've gotten a few more important results.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) officially won reelection over Mandela Barnes (D) while Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — officially lost in a stunning defeat to Republican Mike Lawler.
In Oregon, Democrat Tina Kotek was declared the winner over Christine Drazan (R) in a tight gubernatorial race that Republicans hoped would turn into an upset. In New Mexico, Democrat Gabriel Vasquez defeated Rep. Yvette Herrell. Republican Ryan Zinke won election to the U.S. House in Montana's 1st Congressional District.
In Arizona, Eli Crane (R) defeated Tom O'Halleran (D), flipping the seat red. In Kansas, Gov Laura Kelly (D) won reelection.
In New York, Republicans Marc Molinaro and Anthony D'Esposito both pulled out House victories, while Democrats Matt Cartwright and Chris Deluzio both won their races in Pennsylvania.
Derrick Van Orden (R) also flipped Rep. Ron Kind's (D) seat in Wisconsin.
The GOP now holds 207 seats in the House to Democrats 187. So far, not a single one of Cook Political's lean/likely/solid seats has broken the opposite way (this is why we use them). Of their 36 toss-up races, Democrats have won 18, Republicans have won 7, and 11 are still too close to call.
Everything we missed.
There were so many races on Tuesday, so many ballot initiatives, and so many story lines that it was impossible to fit them all into one newsletter. So, today, I want to give a rundown of all the stuff that didn't make it into Wednesday's newsletter.
It was a big night for abortion rights. Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont all backed ballot measures that enshrined the right to abortion in state law. Meanwhile, Kentucky voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that stated that no constitutional right to abortion exists in the state, a surprise victory for abortion rights in a red state.
Meanwhile, in Montana, voters rejected a ballot measure to give infants "born alive" at any stage of pregnancy "legal personhood" status and impose criminal penalties on health providers who don't act to keep them alive (even if they are nonviable).
Democratic gerrymandering backfired. In New York, Democrats tried to extend their Congressional map as far as they could. But in April, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that Democratic leaders had violated the State Constitution — then appointed a special master to replace the lines for this year's midterms.
As a result, Democrats have already lost Sean Patrick Maloney's seat, two seats in Long Island, and a competitive seat in upstate New York. They could go from 19 Democrats and eight Republicans this year to 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans next year, a swing that could ultimately decide the House majority.
More favorable Democrat redistricting maps succeeded in Illinois and New Mexico, but similar attempts to spread their base across more districts in Nevada and Oregon have actually led to tight races that could backfire. Meanwhile, Republican redistricting has led to big wins and non-competitive districts in Florida and Texas.
However, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have provided a different story, as both states have approved non-partisan district maps. The North Carolina map has been challenged by Republican lawmakers to the Supreme Court, which is expected to consider the case before the 2024 election. The Pennsylvania map approved this year has been enacted with much less controversy. As a result, each state’s elections were as even as it gets. Democrats eked out a 9-8 majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and the North Carolina House is split 7-7.
You can read our deep dive on gerrymandering here.
Medicaid expansion continues. Voters in South Dakota passed Constitutional Amendment D, which qualifies anyone making less than 133% of the federal poverty level (about $18,000 per year) for Medicaid coverage, or roughly 45,000 people. 40 states have now expanded Medicaid, and ballot initiatives have won in all 11 states where the issue went to voters: Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and now South Dakota.
Legalizing drugs was on the ballot. Six states voted on drug policy Tuesday, and the results were split down the middle. Missouri and Maryland joined 19 other states in legalizing cannabis. In Colorado, psychedelic mushrooms were legalized. Meanwhile, legal cannabis failed in South Dakota, North Dakota and Arkansas.
Many candidates who questioned or rejected the results of the 2020 election won their races, but those in competitive races fared worse. Democrats pulled off a clean sweep of GOP candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election, and ran for positions like secretary of state or governor in the swing states of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Republican gubernatorial candidates Tudor Dixon (Michigan), Doug Mastriano (Pennsylvania), Dan Cox (Maryland), Lee Zelden (New York) and Tim Michels (Wisconsin) all lost.
In the same vein, Democrats won nearly every race in which they helped fund a Republican candidate in the primary who they didn't think could win in the general. The Washington Post counted 13 primary races where Democrats backed Republican candidates they thought were too extreme to win against moderates. Only six won their primaries, and every one of them lost in the general election.
However, plenty of candidates who questioned or outright denied the 2020 election results got into office. So far, at least 160 of those candidates have won races for the House, Senate, or key statewide offices, according to a Washington Post count. Notably, the ones who have lost have conceded their races without any issues.
Young voters actually turned out — and probably saved Democrats’ night. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts (CIRCLE) found that 63% of voters aged 18-29 supported Democrats in the midterm elections. Exit polls from CNN reported the same figure.
And in key swing states like Arizona, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, young voters supported Democrats at rates above 70%.
Not only that, but young voters actually showed up. The 2022 midterms marked the second highest young voter turnout in the U.S. in the last three decades, with 27% of young voters showing up in 2022, and 31% in battleground states. And yet... turnout this year was actually down compared to the historic high of 2018. We're up to 93 million House votes tallied and will surpass 100 million, according to Wasserman, but will still fall well short of the 114 million cast in 2018.
The polls were actually pretty good. As I wrote yesterday, polling averages in this year's midterms misled a lot of people — particularly the narrative of an incoming red wave. But Nate Silver rightly pointed out that his polls-only model at FiveThirtyEight isn’t looking too bad: Their forecast projected 50 Democratic Senate seats and 229 GOP House seats. "We'll probably end up at 50 +/- 1 Dem Senate seats and 222 +/- 5 GOP House seats. Pretty good!" he wrote.
Two themes appear to have driven the “red wave” narrative: 1) Many reporters and pundits jumping on polling averages, which included more partisan polls, that showed Republican strength across the board and 2) A general belief that historical precedent, which says the party in the White House typically gets crushed in the midterms, would prevail.
Even outfits like RealClearPolitics, which took some criticism for including too many outlier polls in their averages, did pretty well. According to The Wall Street Journal, Democrats performed about three points better than RCP’s averages in the eight most competitive races for the Senate — right around most polling’s margin of error.
Shockingly, slavery was also on the ballot. Vermont voters passed a constitutional amendment explicitly prohibiting slavery; Tennessee voters banned all forms of slavery in the state; Oregon voters removed langauge in the state’s constitution allowing for slavery and involuntary servitude when used as punishment for a crime. In Louisiana, voters rejected a muddled amendment that was intended to clarify a ban on slavery in the state. If you’re curious why these states needed to clarify that slavery is illegal, the AP has more context (hint: it’s about prison labor policies).
Some other odds and ends: Despite Georgia's Senate race going to a runoff, Republicans cruised everywhere else in the state. They won elections for attorney general, labor commissioner, school superintendent, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner and insurance commissioner. Herschel Walker is the only Republican candidate statewide not to win (yet).
Meanwhile, Republican Liz Cheney endorsed two Democrats — Elissa Slotkin in Michigan and Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger — both of whom won. Democrats gained complete control of the governor’s mansion and the state House and Senate in four states, covering 30 million people: Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Maryland. Republicans swept statewide races in Iowa for the first time, and could win all four of the state's House seats. Republicans also won majorities on the Supreme Courts in Ohio and North Carolina, giving them a leg up in future redistricting fights.
Elsewhere, a Pennsylvania candidate won despite being dead. Illinois passed an amendment granting citizens the right to collective bargaining and banned "right-to-work" laws, which allow workers to be exempted from union dues. In Arizona, voters passed a proposition to limit medical debt interest rates at 3%.
Nevadans look primed to pass an amendment to implement ranked-choice-voting and open primaries, New Mexicans passed an amendment to fund pre-K education and Nebraskans voted to lift the minimum wage from $9 to $15 by January of 2027. Meanwhile in D.C., Washingtonians voted to phase out tipped minimum wage — meaning by 2026, workers who receive tips will also need to be paid the minimum wage. Voters in Oregon passed one of the strictest gun control measures in the country, while voters in California rejected a measure to introduce online and in-person sports gambling.
There were a number of races tied to crime as well, and in several of them progressives prevailed. Perhaps most notably, voters in Minneapolis elected Mary Moriarty, a former public defender, to serve as their new prosecutor. She beat out a tough-on-crime opponent by over 10 points. Massachusetts voters also got rid of Thomas Hodsgon, a Bristol County Sheriff known as the "Arpaio of the East” who became notorious for dangerous jail conditions.
Some notables we missed: Peter Welch became the first state Senator born after World War II to be elected in Vermont. Becca Balint became the first woman elected to Congress in Vermont (the last state in the country to send a woman to Congress). Robert Garcia of California is the first LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress. And James Roesener became the first out trans man elected to any state legislature (in New Hampshire).
Given my experience reporting on allegations of election fraud, I’ve been tracking them during the last few days — and lots of readers have written in asking me what I've come across, and what I've been seeing. I figured I'd use some space to address that here.
First, there just haven't been that many allegations of fraud, which is great news. I put a few together here, but they all fizzled out really quickly. The only one that actually got legs was in Maricopa County, where votes are still being counted. From what we know, 20%-30% of the tabulation machines in the county were having some kind of technical issues, so voters got stuck in long lines. This led to election workers informing voters in line that the machine tabulators were down, and they had a few options: Wait, put their ballot in a separate box to be tabulated later, or go to a different polling place.
In a matter of minutes, some right-wing commentators like Charlie Kirk were alleging crimes and suggesting people should go to jail. Trump said "a lot of bad things" were happening and that Arizona was trying to delay people out of line. Kari Lake, who is running for governor, falsely claimed that machines were only malfunctioning in Republican areas. Others alleged that Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state who is running against Lake for governor, was at fault for the malfunctioning machines.
None of this was true. Hobbs is secretary of state, yes, but Arizona has a uniquely decentralized elections system, and her only job is to certify the statewide vote. Counties run their own elections. While innuendo about purported fraud was spreading, technicians in Maricopa County — which, not that it should matter, has a Republican recorder and several Republicans on its election board — were running around the county fixing the settings on machines that were having issues.
Ultimately, a court rejected Republicans' attempt to keep the polling places open for three extra hours because they "failed to include evidence in the supporting affidavits that any voter in Maricopa County was denied the right to vote as a result of tabulation errors in Maricopa County machines."
Frankly, some of the claims were just lazy. By last night, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was simply declaring that "Maricopa County attempted another cheat" even though they never proved a first cheat and there was no evidence of any cheating last night.
In short: Yes, there have been some claims, but none that got much attention and certainly none that required much investigation. Ironically, as the late votes come in and she closes in on her opponent, Kari Lake — who has suggested past elections were marred by obvious fraud whenever late tallies were being counted — seems perfectly happy to accept her post-election-day tallies this time around. She may very well win on the votes that came in yesterday and get counted today and tomorrow, which is unsurprising (Maricopa has a lot of Republicans voting). And while I share some voters’ frustrations about long lines and delayed election results, it’s not a sign of fraud. If Lake wins, she’ll have an opportunity as governor to reform the system.
Finally, it's also worth stating that, along with the lack of fraud evidence, this year's surprisingly close race is more proof that 2020 wasn't stolen, but simply a reflection of the national mood in the country, one that — based on all the election results and polling we have — appears to slightly favor center-left politics over the fringes on either side.
Your questions, answered.
Q: Why did Democratic Party candidates almost universally have so much more funding than Republican ones this cycle, at least in the big Senate and Governor races? Whatever the results today end up being it's easy for me to imagine lots of narrow Democratic party wins being different if candidates like Blake Masters or Tudor Dixon (expected to lose) or J.D. Vance (expected to win) had funding even remotely close to their rivals.
— Richard from Affton, Missouri
Tangle: Well, I'll start by questioning the premise here. According to OpenSecrets, Republicans actually outspent Democrats by over 25% when it comes to federal candidates and political committees. Republicans spent about $4.6 billion to Democrats' $3.6 billion. Republicans similarly out-fundraised Democrats in governor’s races ($1.1 billion to $823 million). So, to start with, I think it is actually the opposite: Republicans outspent Democrats in this cycle, which is kind of shocking when we look at the results.
However, in the battleground states it is a lot more mixed. OpenSecrets tracks outside money spent for and against each party. In Pennsylvania, an estimated $82.9 million dollars of outside money was spent against Democrats, while $30.4 million was spent for Democrats. That compares to $12.3 million spent for Republicans and $66.6 million spent against Republicans. So by those totals, more money was spent for Democrats than for Republicans, but more money was spent against Democrats than against Republicans. Ultimately, the total figures don’t include how much of his own money Oz spent on his campaign (see today's numbers section).
In Arizona, though, $17.9 million was spent for Democrats while just $5.6 million was spent for Republicans; meanwhile, $47 million was spent against Republicans while $50.3 million was spent against Democrats. Again, it's a mixed bag.
One thing I will say, though, is that Republicans fought a lot over who to invest in. Donald Trump was sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars, and some people (including Fox News's Jesse Watters) have wondered what he is doing with all that money. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already facing criticism for not spending more on Republicans who are narrowly losing, and there will be a lot of post-mortems there.
But no matter how you cut it, both sides really spent an absurd amount of money on this cycle. And when it comes to who spent more, Republicans appear to have actually outpaced Democrats in the totals we have.
- $373.6 million. The amount of money candidates and outside groups spent on the Pennsylvania Senate race.
- $27 million. The amount of his own money Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz spent on his campaign.
- $72 million. The amount of funding Democrat Val Demings received to run against Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida.
- 16.4%. The margin of victory Rubio had over Demings.
- $7 million. The amount of money Democrats have already poured into the Georgia Senate runoff.
- 10%. The percentage of all U.S. senators who will be named John/Jon when John Fetterman is inaugurated in January.
- Biden vs. the governors:
Have a nice day.
A truck driver from Greenville, Texas, is being hailed as a "Highway Angel" after he stopped in his travels to administer aid to two drivers who were involved in a car accident. Tony Doughty was driving eastbound on Interstate 40 near Albuquerque when he witnessed a high-speed accident. Doughty watched a jeep flip over before crashing, as he headed in the opposite direction. Instead of going on his way, he called 911, pulled his truck over, and ran across traffic with his EMT bag to help. Good News Network has the story.
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