- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2020

House Democrats failed to re-create their 2018 blue wave Tuesday, losing even a few of their front-line moderate members to Republican challengers.

Going into the election, Democrats were thought to be poised to not only keep their majority but expand it. Estimates for their anticipated sweep ranged from a net gain of 10 to 15 seats.

Now, while it looks like they’ll still have a hold on the chamber, Republicans chipped away at the majority with at least a seven-seat pickup.

As of Wednesday evening, Democrats had 203 seats and Republicans 188. Dozens of close races were still undetermined in states such as California, New York and Iowa.

The party with at least 218 seats controls the chamber.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took a victory lap Wednesday afternoon, giving President Trump the credit for propping up House Republicans.

“The Republican coalition is bigger, more diverse and more energetic than ever before. That’s because of President Trump. His efforts in reaching out to every demographic has positively changed the future of the GOP,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. ” I think the rejection that we saw last night from the Democrats was that America does not want to be a socialist nation.”

When the counts are finalized, Mr. McCarthy estimates that 14 to 19 more women will join the conference along with six to nine members from racial and ethnic minorities.

The Republicans’ surprising performance leaves many questions for Democrats, whose polling all pointed to a successful night. Those questions, including whether they overestimated the appeal of far-left policies, they will grapple with as leadership elections begin in just two weeks.

On Tuesday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos confidently predicted that her party would surge into the suburbs and flip more Republican seats in swing districts and red strongholds.

“I think we are going to see some wins in these deep-red districts that over time you’re going to see going from ruby red to purple to even blue,” said Ms. Bustos, Illinois Democrat.

The momentum from 2018, when Democrats flipped a historic 43 seats to capture the majority, never materialized.

So far, vulnerable Republican incumbents have been able to fend off Democratic challengers, despite finding themselves in competitive races, particularly in Texas, where the left believed it was their year to turn the state blue or at least purple.

Rep. Chip Roy, a conservative Republican from Texas, found himself in a tight race against former state Sen. Wendy Davis in a district that has been Republican for decades. He ended up winning by a 7-point margin, on par with his performance in 2018.

In fact, Democrats have struggled to take over any of the seats they were aiming for in Texas.

The two seats they won in 2018 remained safe as Reps. Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher solidly won reelection bids. But none of the open seats left vulnerable by retiring Republican Reps. Will Hurd and Pete Olson shifted to the Democrats.

Republicans also held on to a key district in Virginia, where Republican Bob Good won by about 5 percentage points over Democrat Cameron Webb. Democrats were eyeing this race as an indicator of their chances in Republican territory.

The bigger sting, though, comes from having parts of that 2018 blue wave eroded with front-line Democrats losing seats.

These members were battered in the homestretch as Republicans tied them to the more liberal wing of their party, such as far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, or linked them to the failed coronavirus negotiations of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Some incumbent Democrats were known to be at risk, such as Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn of Oklahoma. They all went down in defeat in top-targeted districts where the president won by double digits in 2016.

Other Democratic losses, such as Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala of Florida, were considered competitive but tilting in favor of Democrats.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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