Where Control of Congress Stands Right Now

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

While we wait for the Presidential results which can best be described as a cluster-f*** of an election, overlooked is what the makeup of the next Congress will look like.  Let’s start with the Senate.  The somewhat surprising victory of Susan Collins in Maine made sure that the Senate would remain in the hands of the GOP.  The current status has the GOP in control with 51 seats to 48 for the Democrats.  John James in Michigan came tantalizingly close and, given recent revelations about voting irregularities in Michigan, this may not be a done deal.  The one outstanding race is in North Carolina where Republican incumbent Thom Tillis leads his Democrat rival by a little less than 100,000 votes with an estimated 93% of the vote counted.

Should the results in Michigan hold and Tillis prevail, the Democrats failed to capture the Senate regardless.  It will result in a loss of one seat, possibly two, but unlikely.  Hence, the final tally should keep the GOP in control 52-48.  This means that the three horsemen of the conservative apocalypse (a/k/a squishes)- Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski- have to be reigned in by Mitch McConnell.

In House races, according to my calculations, the Democrats currently lead 206-203, leaving 26 seats up for grabs.  Those races are listed below along with the current status.  Assuming (a big IF) these figures hold, the final tally should be

  1. AZ-1- Democrat incumbent leads by 14,000 votes  (93% of vote counted)
  2. AZ-6- Republican incumbent leads by 6,000 votes (82% of vote counted)
  3. CA-4- Republican incumbent leads by 19,000 votes (87% of vote counted)
  4. CA-8- Republican leads by 11,000 votes (only 37% of vote counted)
  5. CA-21- Republican challenger leads by 3,000 votes (42% of vote counted)
  6. CA-25- Democrat challenger leads by less than 2,000 votes (77% of vote counted)
  7. CA-39- Republican challenger leads by less than 2,000 votes (90% of vote counted)
  8. CA-42- Republican incumbent leads by about 17,000 votes (47% of vote counted)
  9. CA-48- Republican challenger leads by about 3,000 votes (94% of vote counted)
  10. CA-50- Republican leads by about 12,000 votes (50% of vote counted)
  11. IL-14- Republican challenger leads by less than 1,000 votes (100% of vote counted)
  12. IA-2- Republican leads by less than 400 votes (100% of vote counted)
  13. MI-11- Democrat incumbent leads by 9,000 votes (97% of vote counted)
  14. NV-3- Democrat incumbent leads by 5,000 votes (85% of vote counted)
  15. NV-4- Democrat incumbent leads by 7,000 votes (65% of vote counted)
  16. NJ-2- Republican incumbent leads by about 10,000 votes (75% of vote counted)
  17. NY-3- Republican challenger leads by 4,000 votes (100% of vote counted)
  18. NY-18- Democrat incumbent leads by 7,000 votes (100% of vote counted)
  19. NY-19- Democrat incumbent leads by 11,000 votes (98% of vote counted)
  20. PA-7- Republican challenger leads by 7,000 votes (85% of vote counted)
  21. PA-8- Republican challenger leads by 3,000 votes (85% of vote counted)
  22. PA-10- Republican incumbent leads by 35,000 votes (83% of vote counted)
  23. PA-17- Republican challenger leads by 7,000 votes (97% of vote counted)
  24. TX-24- Republican leads by 5,000 votes (88% of vote counted)
  25. UT-4- Democrat incumbent leads by 2,000 votes (70% of vote counted)
  26. WA-8- Democrat incumbent leads by 23,000 votes (82% of vote counted)

My calculations differ from those of Politico which currently has the Senate tied 48-48, and Democrats ahead in House races, 204-190.  In many races, they have failed to call them even though 100% of the vote has been tallied.

Now, assuming the vote totals listed above hold, the GOP would narrowly capture the House, 220-215.  Obviously, the closer we are to 100% of the vote counted, the more likely these totals will hold.  Using a threshold of 85% of the vote counted, we get the following: the GOP leads 213-211 with 11 seats really up for grabs.  They would be AZ-6 (likely GOP), CA-8, 21, 25, 42 and 50, NY-4, NJ-2, PA-10, UT-4, and WA-8.

It is California that most concerns this writer where, in 2018, many Republicans were in the lead and apparent winners on Election Day only to find themselves losers a few days later.  The NJ-2 race also concerns me since I live in this district.  The low number of votes counted in each district in the state, not only NJ-2, is really low at this stage in the game.  For example, not a single one of New Jersey’s 12 Congressional districts have reached the 85% of vote counted threshold, several nowhere near 60%.  Meanwhile in neighboring New York which had major problems with their primaries, all 29 of their districts are either 100% or above 90%.  In Pennsylvania, 11 of 18 districts are at 85% of higher.  Even 17 of California’s 53 districts have hit the 85% threshold.

There can be three possible reasons for this phenomena.  The first is that higher than normal turnout coupled with the new craze of mail-in ballots is slowing down the process.  Throw in the confusion created by the courts in certain states by, in effect, rewriting state election laws, as in Pennsylvania, and it further slows down the process.

A second reason is ineptitude on the part of states to prepare for this eventuality.  States like Iowa, Florida and Texas had results relatively quickly, as did Ohio.  Even friggin’ Illinois did a decent job.  If anyone is going to point to population and turnout as an excuse, those four states mentioned in the previous two sentences have high populations and had high turnout.  As far as this writer can remember, mail-in voting and the problems associated with it were known during the primary season which was at the height of the coronavirus scare.  One would think that, like in New Jersey which held their primary in July, the bugs in counting mail-in ballots would have been worked out in the ensuing five months.

The third reason is shenanigans.  Suddenly discovered ballots, mysteriously missing ballots, mailed ballots found in ditches, and voting pattern irregularities which defy political reality have all been a fact of life this electoral season.

What this all adds up to is confusion on a mass scale.  Voting is the cornerstone of democracy in whatever form- direct or through a republican system- we are constantly told.  The United States is the proverbial “shining beacon on the hill” of democracy.  Leaving aside the Presidential candidates and their particular peccadillos, the United States may be the laughingstock of democracy right now as many states are proving their ineptitude in running a free, fair, and, most importantly, efficient election.

What the hell… there is always Putin to blame.