Top 10 midterm elections surprises
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A good motto for Election Day is usually “expect the unexpected.”

That certainly held true on Tuesday night. Ultimately, the midterms turned out to be an even better than expected night for Republicans. They locked up many races relatively early and by large margins, despite polling in recent weeks that indicated most competitive races were close.

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But that bigger than expected GOP wave gave way to a lot of surprising moments. Here are The Hill’s top 10: 

Some of the losses by Democrats weren’t surprising, but the margins were. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Overnight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts MORE (R-Ky.) won by 15 points over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Rep. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft MORE (R-Ark.) toppled Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) by 17 points. And state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) defeated Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell Braley2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward MORE (D-Iowa) by 8 points and effectively sealed the deal for Senate Republicans’ majority. Recent polling showed all of those candidates ahead, but by single digits.

Senate Republicans won a clear majority before midnight on election night. Signs initially suggested that Americans wouldn’t know who won the Senate on Tuesday. The open Senate race in Georgia once appeared likely to go to a runoff on Jan. 6. And if Republicans couldn’t pick up seats elsewhere, a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana could have resulted in a cliffhanger. Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsInternal poll shows Kobach trailing Democrat in Kansas Senate race Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers ramp up Silicon Valley antitrust probe | Treasury sanctions North Korean cyber groups | Thiel to host Kobach fundraiser MORE (R-Kan.) also appeared in danger of losing his seat to Independent Greg Orman. But Roberts and Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue won decisively well before midnight on Tuesday. In late-closing Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan is ahead of Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (D), though the race is too close to call.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit MORE (D-Va.) is barely hanging on. Polling showed Warner ahead of GOP candidate Ed Gillespie by double digits earlier this cycle and still by an average of more than 5 points in recent weeks. Democrats generally weren’t as worried about Warner as they were about incumbents in North Carolina and New Hampshire. Now, Warner currently leads Gillespie by just less than a percentage point with all precincts counted. The race appears headed to a recount, and it could take days, if not weeks, for a final call.

Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (D-Ga.) lost. Barrow, the last white House Democrat from the Deep South, was the perpetual survivor. Despite being a perennial GOP target in a conservative district, Barrow managed to win reelection by maintaining a centrist voting record and a folksy appeal. His luck ran out Tuesday as the Democrat lost by 9 points to GOP businessman Rick Allen, one of the most formidable opponents he’d faced in the redrawn district. 

Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganWarning signs flash for Tillis in North Carolina Tillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary MORE (D-N.C.) lost. Both sides always knew this race would be close, but the networks called the race for North Carolina state Speaker Thom Tillis (R) just a few hours after the polls closed. At a minimum, many Democrats predicted Hagan and Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCruz endorses GOP candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Meghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation MORE (D-N.H.) would win reelection and stave off Senate GOP gains. Only one of those ended up being true. 

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) lost, and by a huge margin. Maffei was a top GOP target throughout the 2014 election cycle, and political handicappers eventually rated the race as a toss-up. Still, no one expected Maffei would lose to Republican John Katko by 19 points. After all, former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle defeated Maffei by less than a point in 2010 after weeks of counting votes. Maffei won the seat back in 2012, but it’s hard at this point to see him running for the seat again after losing so decisively.

Early calls in Illinois predicted a good night for the GOP. Competitive Illinois races went decisively for Republicans relatively early in the night. Former Rep. Bob Dold (R) unseated Rep. Brad Schneider (D) in their rematch, Rep. Rodney Davis (R) fended off a challenge from Democrat Ann Callis by 17 points, and state Rep. Mike Bost (R) toppled freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D) handily by 11 points. Republican Bruce Rauner also won the governor’s race against Gov. Pat Quinn (D), which put the cherry on top for the GOP in President Obama’s home state. 

Freshman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) lost. Horsford’s race wasn’t on either party’s radar until the final weeks of the campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in a late attempt to save Horsford in a district that Obama won handily in 2012, after American Crossroads went on a spending blitz there. But it was too late, and Nevada state assemblyman Cresent Hardy pulled the upset Tuesday night. 

Incumbent House Democrats not expected to be in play are too close to call. Three House Democrats ended up having nail-biter election nights. As of Wednesday afternoon, The Associated Press had still not called the reelection races of Reps. John Delaney (D-Md.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). Delaney and Slaughter currently hold narrow leads, but Costa is trailing Republican Johnny Tacherra. Republicans already expanded their majority to their largest since the 1940s, but these unexpected seats would give the GOP even more opportunities.

Democrats lost the Maryland gubernatorial race. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) was one of the few candidates this cycle who had Obama campaign on his behalf in the traditionally Democratic stronghold. Republicans attacked Brown for his ties to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), particularly for the tax increases enacted under the current governor. In the end, GOP businessman Larry Hogan pulled out an upset by a 9-point margin, showing just how high the GOP tidal wave had crested.