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The Beginning of the End of Election Season

Date posted: Monday, November 9, 2020
Blog poster: Doug Farquhar, JD

In 2020, Election Day officially became Election Season.

As I write this, Joe Biden will be our next president. We are still unsure who will control the Senate.

But most results are known, and for the most part, things remain the same.

Like 2016, the polls were wildly inaccurate. Like 2018, we will likely have a divided government.

Democrats are holding the House of Representatives, albeit by fewer numbers than before, and barring any upsets, Republicans will control the Senate. Georgia will hold two additional races for the Senate later this year to provide the final answer to which party will control the Senate.

As of writing (November 7), Democrats hold 208 seats in the House, Republicans hold 193 seats, and 34 are uncalled. Of the uncalled, the majority are held by Democrats. It does not look like, however, that Republicans will take back the House. There will be 55 freshmen members in 2020, down from 115 new members in 2018. A majority of the freshmen class have experience in government.

In the Senate, a couple of Republican-held seats switched to Democrats (Arizona and Colorado), and 1 held by a Democrat went to a Republican (Alabama). At present, it looks like the remaining incumbents will keep their seats; Republican Senators Thom Tillis (North Carolina) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) will remain, as will Democratic Senator Gary Peters (Michigan).

The only governorship to switch was Montana, where Republican Greg Gianforte beat Democrat Mike Cooney.

As for the state legislatures, only New Hampshire changed from Democratic control to Republican. Arizona might change from Republican to Democratic as well; votes are still being counted.

Looking at the two chambers of the legislature and the governor, a total of three-fourths of states have governors and legislatures of the same party, a sign that ticket-splitting might be waning nationwide.

Republicans gained control of all three power positions in two states this year: New Hampshire and Montana, where the new Republican governor replaced the outgoing Democratic governor. These results give the Republicans 23 states, compared to the Democratic control of 15 states. In 11 states, one of the three power positions is held by a different party, which is the lowest split government control since 1952. In the 2000s, the number of splits was 20 or more.

As for redistricting, in a majority of the states, it will be controlled by a single party. The 2020 Census will provide population numbers to the states to determine Congressional districts. With the huge Republican wins in the states in 2010, most Congressional House seats have been redistricted for a Republican advantage. Even with this advantage, the Democrats have won majorities in Congress. As such, it might be difficult to find any more advantages for Republicans.

More people voted in 2020 than ever before. Estimates of up to 66.9% of eligible voters turned out to vote, even in the midst of the pandemic. This number is the highest since the vote of 1900, which was before women had the right to vote.

President Trump increased the turnout of rural voters by 16% compared with 2016. The majority of his support came from rural America. Rural Democrats have become rare in 2020. Hispanics in Florida and Texas also supported Trump in higher numbers than expected.

Biden increased suburban support of Democrats by 13% compared with 2016. In urban centers, Republicans have become as rare as rural Democrats.

More on how the race affects environmental health coming next week.

Blog the poster: Doug Farquhar is the director of Government Affairs at the NEHA in Denver, Colorado.