Down Ballot Elections Paint a Different Picture
While virtually everyone was focused on the outcome of the national elections, several battleground elections took place in states across the country. Joe Biden is the presumptive winner of the presidential election, however we did not see the Democratic “wave” down the ballot needed to transform the political make up of Congress, and with Governors and state legislatures.
Voters increased the footprint of Republicans in state legislatures — and Republicans increased their representation for Governors by flipping Montana. Here is the breakdown:
In the U.S. Senate, the Republicans had a heavy burden with 23 of the 35 seats up for grabs this year. They also had their majority on the line. As of today, the matter is not settled since both seats in Georgia are headed for a run-off. Democrats otherwise only achieved a net gain of one seat. They flipped two seats, one in Arizona and another in Colorado, but Republicans took back control of a Senate seat in Alabama. All eyes are now focused on Georgia, where control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance.
U.S. House of Representatives
The U.S. House of Representatives also failed to produce a “blue wave” anticipated by many with a Biden victory. In fact, Republicans flipped eight seats and Democrats flipped only two of the races called thus far. This will create a narrower majority for the Democrats and will lead to an interesting dynamic for the 117th Congress.
State legislatures are particularly important in 2020 because it is the states that draw congressional district boundaries every 10 years and it will be the task of legislatures elected this year to do just that. With this in mind, we look at the overall outcome of state legislative races. We know a huge amount of money was put into states like Texas, where the population is growing, and one or two congressional districts will be added (at the expense of some state or states losing population). One Democratic super PAC committed over $12 million to flip the Texas House from Republican majority. That didn’t happen.
This all points to the fact that voters do pay attention to down ballot races and they are willing to split their votes between parties.
Republicans increased their control of both chambers and the Governor, referred to as a “trifecta.” Prior to the 2020 election, there were 21 Republican trifectas, 15 Democratic trifectas and 14 with divided government. After the election, Republicans increased their trifectas to 23. Democrats maintained 15 trifectas and the number of divided governments decreased to 12.
This all points to the fact that voters do pay attention to down ballot races and they are willing to split their votes between parties. How this impacts the legislative and regulatory landscape over the next two years is yet to be seen. Stay tuned.