Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

As best I can tell right now, the GOP lost 32 House seats last night (241 in the 115th Congress down to 209 in the 116th). This flips the control of the House to the Democrats. As I said earlier, make no mistake about it, this is a loss that I would rather not have suffered but in was not a shock. The average mid-term loss to the president’s party is 30 seats and this was a meh? election, not a wave election.

The real story is in the Senate.

As I write this, the GOP held onto battleground seats in Tennessee and Arizona, they lost Nevada, they flipped Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Florida is heading to a recount with Rick Scott in the lead (I think he’ll hang on). Jon Tester may hold onto his seat in Montana when all votes are finally counted (suddenly large numbers of ballots from Democrat strongholds are appearing). The GOP seems certain to gain four and maybe five seats from last night.

What makes this significant is that the last time a president’s party gained seats in the Senate in a midterm was 2002 when George W. Bush had one pickup. Before him, Nixon gained two seats in 1970 and JFK added 4 in 1962. So while the party occupying the presidency losing seats in midterms is sort of baked in, the same is even more true of the Senate. If Matt Rosendale does hold on in Montana to give the GOP five wins, it will be second only to FDR’s 1934 gain of 9 seats.

The addition of as many as four seats to the thin one-seat majority means that Mitch McConnell can afford to ignore Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. It means that the confirmation of conservative jurists will be easier. It means that the selection of cabinet officials, particularly someone to replace Jeff Sessions, will allow for more conservative candidates to win confirmation. With the absence of McCain and Flake and Corker, the Senate is less likely to sign onto any bogus “comprehensive immigration reform” not only because the Democrat House demands will be bat**** crazy but because the GOP caucus is less immigration friendly than it was in the last two Congresses.

What happened last night in the House was a setback. But whatever we lost in the House, we made up for by increasing a Senate majority and moving the Senate GOP caucus a little further to the right. And that is important.

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