House Democrats had a rough election night — but a number of late calls that broke their way have given them a small silver lining in the 2014 elections.
Democrats have won all 11 House races that were too close to call Nov. 4, keeping what was a bad cycle from becoming a horrific one.
Even with the late breaks, Republicans head into next Congress with their largest majority in at least 70 years and a minimum of 246 seats, following a pickup of at least 12 seats. The National Republican Congressional Committee achieved what NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) had set as an “aspirational goal” of winning 245 seats.
Democrats can find solace in wins for Reps. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickWomen make little gains in new Congress McCain wins sixth Senate term In Arizona, history and voter registration data gives GOP edge MORE (D-Ariz.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and incoming Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.), whose defeat of Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) was just one of three Democratic wins against incumbents in 2014. Rep. Ami BeraAmi BeraA record number of Indian Americans have been elected to Congress Calif. Dem wins reelection in overtime 115th Congress will be most racially diverse in history MORE (D-Calif.) also climbed into his first lead since election night against former Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) on Friday, though thousands of votes remain to be counted.
The DCCC added more than $2.2 million to help shore up Bera against outside attacks in the closing days of the election, added close to $900,000 for Peters and $1.3 million to help bolster Kirkpatrick as well as an additional $300,000 to take out Terry.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also helped a pair of underperforming candidates — Rep. Julia BrownleyJulia BrownleyHouse caucus to focus on business in Latin America House votes to restrict IRS hires and funding EMILY's List names incumbent Dems it will fundraise for MORE (D-Calif.) and incoming Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) — hold off late-breaking challenges in races they’d been favored in early on.
“While I take responsibility for where we fell short, I also take pride in our successes. Since Election Day, 11 House races have been called and all 11 have been won by Democrats. That is not an accident,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to The Hill. “We still have a few races that are too close to call but it is already clear that Democrats’ strategy of defining Republicans early and aggressively kept many of these races close, and our field program put them over the top, preventing a bad election night from being much worse.”
Democrats lost four open seats they were defending while winning just one GOP open seat, and 10 Democratic incumbents fell, while fewer than a half-dozen top-targeted Democratic incumbents claimed victory on election night.
But some of the other narrow wins were more about avoiding the kinds of surprising defeats the DCCC faced in the 2010 GOP wave.
Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and John Delaney (D-Md.) barely dodged upset bids in their heavily Democratic districts. Reps. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) had to wait for their races to be called in their favor, though that was as much because of California’s slow vote-counting process as particularly close calls for their seats.
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) still awaits his fate in his heavily Democratic district, though he pulled into his first lead since election night on Friday with an 86-vote edge. The DCCC didn’t spend in any of those races besides a small investment in Capps’s district.
Republicans, however, laughed at the fact that Democrats were boasting about any victory on Election Day.
“The fact that the Democrats squeaked out late wins in districts Obama won by double digits is about as impressive as the losing team in the Super Bowl scoring a garbage-time touchdown in a 40-point blowout,” NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said. “Nancy Pelosi and Steve Israel can delude themselves and spin silver linings all they want, but the final scoreboard says that Republicans just won their largest majority since the 1940s.”
Republicans are also confident that former Air Force pilot Martha McSally (R) will retain her lead of less than 200 votes against Rep. Ron BarberRon BarberTen House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt House conducts moment of silence for Tucson shooting anniversary Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel MORE (D-Ariz.) in one of the election’s top-targeted races. The race is headed to a recount, though McSally has declared victory.