Good afternoon from the Board of Elections…
In a year like no other, we had an Election Day unlike any other. Between record turnout, almost 100 million voters casting early votes, and more than 65 million absentee ballots cast, much remains to be counted—and decided. Our team has been saying for weeks that this election would be closer than pollsters and many in the media predicted and, man alive, were we right about that!
While the OD&A team has been following races across the country through the night and morning, please take this analysis with several grains of salt. The Constitution allows the states to determine the method of voting and of counting those votes so different states will count their paper ballots at different speeds. In New York, absentee ballots can be received at a local board of election up until November 10th (as long as it is postmarked by Election Day) and still be counted. With such a substantial number of ballots outstanding, things can—and likely will—change significantly in many races before final determinations are made. A reminder that in New York’s June Primary, some races were not decided until several weeks later.
Once the dust settles, we will be back with a more in-depth analysis of what the results mean for you and for our communities and businesses, but for now, here’s a quick update on where things stand.
— As of this morning, President Donald J. Trump appears confident of 213 electoral votes while former Vice-President Joe Biden has secured 238. Both short of the 270 needed to win.
— Each candidate had some key wins last night, Trump taking Florida, and Biden turning Arizona blue.
— However, several key states—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina—still have millions of votes to count.
— Biden has taken narrow leads in Wisconsin—with 49.57% of the vote to Trump’s 48.94%—and Michigan, with 49.59% to Trump’s 48.88%.
— With an unprecedented number of absentee ballots, it may be days until we have more results.
— But the bottom line is that polling (and media coverage) leading up to Election Day missed—wildly—again.
United States Senate
The fight for control of the Senate remains too close to call (Republicans and Democrats are now tied 47-47). However, the map was moving slowly towards Republicans, as several endangered GOP incumbents appear to have been re-elected:
— In Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst has defeated Democrat Theresa Greenfield and will return for a second term.
— In Montana, Senator Steve Daines held off a challenge from Democrat Steve Bullock.
— Republican Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina) hold narrow leads with votes still to be counted.
— Two great Democratic hopefuls—Jaime Harrison in South Carolina and Amy McGrath in Kentucky—who had raised almost $200 million collectively fell far short in their races.
— In Alabama, Democratic Senator Doug Jones lost his reelection bid to Republican Tommy Tuberville.
— In Georgia, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler was forced into a January runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock. Republicans were concerned a more conservative candidate—Doug Collins—could have been the nominee and hurt their chances to hold the seat. Senator David Perdue, a first-term Republican, is closing in on 50% and may avoid a run-off with Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff.
— Democrats appear to have picked up seats, defeating incumbents with John Hickenlooper’s win in Colorado and Mark Kelly’s win in Arizona.
— In Michigan, the race appears to be a toss-up between Republican Challenger John James and incumbent Democratic Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. House of Representatives
So far—with 372 of 435 seats called—Republicans have a net gain of three seats, though the Democrats will retain control of the House.
House of Representatives Races in New York State:
— Republican Nicole Malliotakis appears to have defeated incumbent Max Rose in a Staten Island/Brooklyn district. The other NYC seats solidly re-elected their Democratic incumbents or primary victors.
— In Central New York/Mohawk Valley’s District 22, Republican (and former Member of Congress) Claudia Tenney holds a big lead in the 2018 rematch with incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi.
— Rep. John Katko (R) holds a small lead in his rematch against Dana Balter in Central New York District 24.
— Republican Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino has a broad lead over Democrat Jackie Gordon in the race for an open seat.
— In Long Island District 1 incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin holds a wide lead over Democrat Nancy Goroff.
— In a rematch of June’s Special Election, incumbent GOP Congressman Chris Jacobs holds a seemingly insurmountable lead over challenger Nate McMurray in his third try for the seat.
— Incumbent Republicans Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik both cruised to re-election as did Democrats Brian Higgins, Kathleen Rice, and Joe Morelle.
— In Long Island’s District 3, Republican Challenger George Santos currently leads incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi by a little over 4,000 votes.
NEW YORK STATE
In one of the under reported stories of the year, minor parties in New York needed to achieve 130,000 votes to retain their ballot lines. The Working Families Party and the Conservative Party both appear to have far exceeded that requirement, while the Green Party, the Save America Movement (SAM), and the Independence Party appear to have failed.
In the State Senate, Democrats’ hopes of a supermajority have failed. Democrats ended the night with 29 clear wins with unopposed candidates or lopsided wins. Republicans took home 14 seats.
— A few Democratic incumbents appear to have lost—Monica Martinez and Andrew Gournardes—while others incumbents are in close races that will depend on paper ballots—Kevin Thomas, Jim Gaughran, Peter Harckham, Jen Metzger, and Rachel May.
Open seats appear to have split:
— In Upstate New York, Democrats had a better night, they are currently ahead in Senate District 56—Jeremy Cooney leads by just under 1,000 votes, Senate District 55—where Samra Brouk leads by over 5,000 votes. Sean Ryan handily flipped a GOP seat. These Upstate wins combined with apparent Democratic losses in Long Island, will likely lead to more influence for Democrats across Western New York and the Finger Lakes.
— Republicans also had some key wins: in the Suburban Western New York District 61, Republican Ed Rath leads Jacquie Berger by 14,000 votes, and on Long Island: in the race to replace Minority Leader John Flanagan, Republican Mario Mattera leads by over 15,000 votes, and in the seat vacated by Ken LaValle, Anthony Palumbo leads Laura Ahearn by 9,000 votes. In Syracuse, Democratic hopeful John Mannion trails Republican Angi Renna by 7,200 votes.
— The GOP also looks to have held open seats in Hudson Valley. Republican Senator Sue Serino currently holds a wide lead over Democratic Challenger Karen Smythe; Democrat Michelle Hinchey currently trails Republican Richard Amedure by over 8,000 votes.
Democrats will retain strong control, but there will be some new faces come January—Emily Gallagher, who defeated long time Codes Chair Joe Lentol, Marcela Mitaynes who defeated Felix Ortiz, and Jessica Gonzales-Rojas will join the Assembly Majority Conference in January, replicating progressive wins in the Senate in 2018 and will mean new reenergized dynamics in lower for the Speaker.
In Upstate, a few key incumbents trail this morning—Assembly Member Monica Wallace trails Republican Frank Smierciak by 6,000 votes, Assembly Member Pat Burke trails Republican Matthew Szalkowski by 4,000 votes, and Assembly Member Karen McMahon trails Republican Robin Wolfgang by over 5,000 votes.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021
A lot is not certain today…the U.S. Senate, the Presidency…but what is certain is Democratic control of the House of Representatives. We look ahead to some of the key dynamics that will drive policy in the lower house in 2021.
While House Leadership—Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn—will stay in place, at the Committee level there will be some major changes in the 117th Congress.
Who replaces Nita Lowey as Chair of Appropriations?
— Reps. Rose DeLauro D-Connecticut, Marcy Kaptur D-Ohio, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz D-Florida are all in the running.
Who replaces Eliot Engel as Chair of Foreign Affairs?
— Rep. Greg Meeks D-NY, Rep. Brad Sherman D-Ca, and Joaquin Castro D-Tx. are all positioning themselves.
Will Rep. Richard Neal’s progressive primary pull the powerful House Ways & Means Committee to the Left?
— After a hard-fought bid for reelection that saw key progressive groups like AOC’s new PAC, Justice Democrats, and the Sunrise Movement endorse his opponent, we will see the impacts on the normally moderate Rep. Neal, who has not backed progressive priorities like the Green New Deal or Medicare for All.
As it becomes clearer, we have updates on what that means for key sectors—from Coronavirus relief to energy to real estate—and how that will change based on who wins the Presidency, who controls the United States Senate, and key dynamics in the House and State Legislature that play over the next few days.
In Albany and in Washington D.C., the outcomes of the next several days will have major implications, from Democrats in the State Legislature being able to place more pressure on Governor Cuomo on key issues like revenue raisers, to a Biden Infrastructure package, to once-in-a-decade budget and appropriations dynamics in D.C. what happens before Friday will deeply change the outlook of 2021 Legislative Session and the 117th Congress.
Stay tuned for more from the OD&A team.