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Democrats projected to retain House majority

Democrats projected to retain House majority
© Bonnie Cash

Democrats are projected to maintain their House majority in Tuesday's elections, but so far appear to be falling short of expectations that they would significantly expand upon their gains in the suburbs from two years ago.

Most of the competitive House races had not yet been called as of midnight Wednesday.

But multiple networks projected that Democrats would keep the lower chamber on Tuesday night.

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At the same time, the first competitive House races to be called indicated that Republicans were managing to defend seats in top battlegrounds and unseat numerous Democratic incumbents. House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, had predicted a net gain of as much as 15 seats in recent days.

The presidential race does not yet have a clear winner either, with multiple swing states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin still finalizing their vote counts.

Democratic hopes of a blowout have also fallen short in the race for the Senate. Only two GOP Senate incumbents have been ousted so far, while Republicans held off Democratic challenges in red states like Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina.

Democrats have so far flipped two open House seats in North Carolina, which were expected to turn blue due to redistricting.

But five first-term Democrats who had flipped seats from red to blue in 2018, Florida Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellStephanie Murphy won't run for Senate seat in Florida next year Hispanic Democrats slam four Republicans over Jan. 6 vote in new ads Colombia's protests are threat, test for US MORE and Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaPelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel Stephanie Murphy won't run for Senate seat in Florida next year Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job MORE, as well as Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? MORE (Okla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamJoe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' Lobbying world MORE (S.C.) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) were expected to lose reelection.

Mucarsel-Powell and Shalala had both had been favored to win reelection heading into Tuesday, but both appeared to have narrowly lost to their GOP challengers in their southern Florida districts that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE had handily carried in 2016. Horn, Torres Small and Cunningham faced uphill battles in traditionally GOP districts that President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE won four years ago.

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And in another blow to Democrats, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (D-Minn.) was projected to lose reelection after 15 terms to Republican Michelle Fischbach in a district that Trump had carried by 30 points.

Numerous GOP lawmakers in races considered highly competitive ultimately prevailed on Tuesday night, including Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Capitol Police Board signals resistance to reform McCarthy says that he will not support bipartisan deal for Jan. 6 commission MORE (Ill.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Fresh hurdles push timeline on getting China bill to Biden READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (Ohio), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race Democratic Kansas City, Mo., mayor eyes Senate run The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal MORE (Mo.), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSullivan says US preparing more Russia sanctions over Navalny House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq war powers GOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning MORE (Texas) and French HillJames (French) French HillPelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel In 'restoring America's soul,' Biden can become a hero for the persecuted MORE (Ark.).

Democrats also fell short in some open seat races in Virginia and Texas that had been considered competitive.

In addition, Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosTo reverse the teaching shortage in low-income communities, give educators incentive to stay Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Democrat Cheri Bustos to retire from Congress MORE (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was locked in a tight race in a district that Trump carried in 2016.

Democrats currently hold 232 seats, while Republicans hold 197. The one independent currently serving in the House, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (Mich.), is not seeking reelection.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi quashes reports on Jan. 6 select committee Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed On The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) is expected to be reelected to another term leading House Democrats after becoming Trump’s chief antagonist over the past two years.

It’s a contrast from two years ago when Democrats regained the House after eight years of GOP control. Pelosi was still favored to continue leading House Democrats at the time, but a number of candidates in competitive districts had distanced themselves from her or even declared that they wouldn't back her for Speaker.

A small group of Pelosi detractors tried to prevent her from taking the Speaker’s gavel but were unable to recruit a challenger. Only 12 Democrats ultimately voted for candidates for Speaker besides Pelosi in January 2019, while three voted “present.”  

Pelosi has led House Democrats since 2003 and is one of just seven Speakers in history to regain the gavel after serving a period in the minority.

If Democrats also take control of the Senate, they will have unified control across the Capitol to pursue legislative priorities such as health care, infrastructure, police reform and gun control. 

House Democrats had passed a variety of bills over the past two years reflecting the party’s platform, including to expand background checks for gun sales, raise the minimum wage to $15 and establish a path to citizenship for certain immigrants without legal status.

Those bills were all ignored by the GOP-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) embraced calling himself the “Grim Reaper” and blocking Democrats’ agenda.

If Trump wins reelection, the House will continue to serve as a counterbalancing branch of government that pursues investigations into his administration and blocks his legislative priorities.

Democrats are set to build upon the historic diversity from the class of lawmakers that propelled the party into the House majority in 2018. The 2018 class included a record 36 women and 24 racial minorities.

For the first time, it’s expected there will be openly gay Black members of Congress: incoming New York Democratic Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres.

The so-called “Squad” of four progressive congresswomen who first won election in 2018 — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez says she ranked Wiley first, Stringer second in NYC mayoral vote Five things to watch in the NYC mayor's race primary Heatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them It's past time we elect a Black woman governor House Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' MORE (D-Mass.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries MORE (D-Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE (D-Minn.) — will have additional allies when the new session of Congress begins in January.

Three progressive Democrats who won primary challenges this year over sitting Democratic incumbents — Cori Bush of Missouri, Marie Newman of Illinois and Jamaal Bowman of New York — are expected to take office in January. Jones also had initially launched a primary challenge against House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.), who eventually announced her retirement last year.