It was being forecast as a nailbiter for Republicans, a possible Alabam redux where an easily winnable seat for the GOP could quite possibly be eaten by Democrats with a wave of enthusiasm. In the end, it wasn’t very close, and Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith cruised to a 7 point victory over Democrat Mike Espy. Hyde-Smith enjoyed the backing of President Trump as well as their entire GOP establishment going all-in on her campaign, despite the racially-charged fumble she made earlier this month.
Results from the New York Times:
879,957 votes, 99% reporting (1,781 of 1,797 precincts)
CNN reports on the GOP victory and what it means for Senate control:
Hyde-Smith will defeat Democratic challenger Mike Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary, in the last Senate race to be decided in 2018. The victory will make her the first woman ever elected to Congress from Mississippi.
Her win on Tuesday means Republicans will hold 53 seats to Democrats’ 47 seats in the Senate in January. The GOP grew its majority in the Senate by two seats in this year’s midterm elections even as Democrats took control of the House.
Hyde-Smith’s victory also means that there will be 24 women in the Senate next year. That will set a new record for women serving in the Senate, one more than the current high, set during this Congress.
Hyde-Smith will finish out the final two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran’s term, who retired earlier this year due to health concerns. Hyde-Smith will have to run again in 2020 to serve a full six-year term.
Republicans desperately needed this win to provide a cushion for judicial appointments and executive cabinet nominations in the coming months. Without adding to the GOP majority, moderate Senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski would have had tremendous influence over the process.
This election officially closes the 2018 midterms and it’s worth noting that Democrats made out big in the House as races in California and elsewhere finally finished their tallies giving them a pickup of 39 seats overall. As NBC News reports, the victory on Election Night was tempered by the fact that so many races would take days to decide:
Democrats made a net gain of 39 House seats in this year’s midterm elections, NBC News has concluded, after Democrat Ben McAdams defeated GOP Rep. Mia Love in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
That race was NBC News’ lone remaining uncalled contest.
The gains that propelled Democrats to retake the majority in the House come on the back of the largest margin of victory, in terms of total votes, that either party has seen in a midterm election. Democrats held the prior record for vote margin, which came in 1974 with the backdrop of the Watergate scandal.
Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at for the GOP and clearly indicate that the Presidential battle in 2020 will be fought in some new districts compared to the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. If Democrats end up retaining Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in 2020, Trump would have a hard time recapturing his electoral college magic in 2 years.
However, we have yet to see what unfolds between now and then, and the new Congress won’t be seated until late January. Democrats will begin announcing their 2020 candidacies within the next 90 days which will immediately start driving the next presidential election cycle sooner than you think.