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By David Wasserman
Democrats swept all of the seats where they were favored and won or are ahead in 17 of the 30 seats the Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups. They also scored impressive upsets along the coast of South Carolina, in Oklahoma City and on Staten Island. With several uncalled races, it will take more time than usual to take stock of Tuesday’s powerful, if uneven, wave. But here are a few initial impressions:
1) This was mainly a suburban revolt. Democrats easily swept out most of the Republicans sitting in high-income suburban Hillary Clinton-won districts: Reps. Mike Coffman (CO-06), Peter Roskam (IL-06), Kevin Yoder (KS-03), Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Barbara Comstock (VA-10), all by comfortable margins. Just about the only one in this category who may survive is Rep. Mimi Walters (CA-45).
In these seats, ads declaring that the Republican incumbent had voted with President Donald Trump “95 percent of the time” proved too much for them to overcome. But well-funded Democrats also broke through in outer, middle-class suburbs that Trump carried by single digits: Illinois’s 14th District, Iowa’s 3rd District, Michigan’s 8th and 11th Districts and Virginia’s 2nd and 7th Districts. Several were breakthroughs in places Barack Obama had never carried.
However, Democrats didn’t win a single Republican seat where Trump cracked 55 percent of the vote in 2016. They fell short in Florida’s 6th District, Kansas’s 2nd District and Kentucky’s 6th District, despite multiple polls depicting competitive races. They also failed to hold onto two rural open seats in Minnesota and failed to knock off two indicted Republicans, Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York.
2) Democrats’ massive financial advantage helped overcome Republicans’ structural geographic edge in the House. At this writing, Democrats lead in total votes cast for House by about 5.3 percent, and are leading Republicans in seats by about 5.7 percent. Democrats’ popular vote lead will grow as more ballots are counted in states like California, Massachusetts and New York, perhaps to 7 points.
In other words, after all the hand-wringing about Republicans’ built-in gerrymandering advantage, Democrats’ share of votes roughly translated into their share of seats. A closer analysis suggests that’s mostly because Democrats performed exceptionally well in the roughly 75 battleground districts they targeted, mostly because their candidates’ massive fundraising advantages helped them control the late narrative.
3) In the House, this was the “Year of the Fired Up Female College Graduate.” This was the first year in history Americans elected more than 100 women to the House, and it almost entirely driven by Democrats — a clear reaction to Trump’s election. Of the 38 seats Democrats flipped or maintain a lead, women were the Democratic nominees in 21 — accounting for well over Democrats’ margin in the House.
4) This is also going to make it next to impossible for Democrats to ditch Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House. During the campaign, 37 Democrats on the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list publicly opposed Pelosi for speaker. But of those 37, only 10 prevailed and another five are in races that are too close to call. And a few “no” votes won with such comfortable enough margins that they are probably flippable.
Republicans, looking for a silver lining after Tuesday, are gleeful at the prospect of her return and argue it makes Democrats the instant underdogs to keep what may only be a 12-15 seat majority heading into 2020. After all, these Democrats campaigned on changing Washington and challenging both parties’ leaders. Instead, their very first vote would be to fall in line behind the San Francisco-led old guard.
Indeed, it’s the Democrats who look like the more divided party as they assume power in the House. Their newcomers, mostly hailing from swing suburbs, campaigned on health care and pocketbook issues, not Russia, tweets or Trump. But the incoming committee chairs, almost all from urban and coastal districts, each have their own long lists of executive branch matters they want to investigate.
5) The Republicans who survived in tough seats did so mostly by establishing their own moderate reputations before Trump took office. Reps. David Valadao (CA-21), John Katko (NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Will Hurd (TX-23) all hung onto their seats by cultivating nonpartisan images a long time ago, much like the few younger, conservative Democrats who hung on in 2010.
In some respects, this was a mirror image of 2010. Much as the Blue Dogs were decimated in the 2010 wave, moderate “Tuesday Group” Republicans suffered large losses from both retirements like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) and Charlie Dent (PA-07), and defeats like Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL-27) and Leonard Lance (NJ-07). The congressional GOP is about to become a more Trump-centric party.
Bonus takeaway: Democrats’ hard pickup count is already at 31, according NBC’s count, and their odds look good in many of the uncalled races. Democrats currently hold leads in four of the nine seats where the winner isn’t clear: CA-48 (Rohrabacher), NJ-03 (MacArthur) and UT-04 (Love). In addition, Democrats are hopeful additional mail-in ballots will help their candidates overcome deficits in CA-10 (Denham) and CA-39 (Royce).
Maine’s 2nd District is the quirkiest nail-biter of all. GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin leads Democrat Jared Golden by less than 1,000 votes, but 22,000 cast ballots for left-leaning independents. Under the state’s new “ranked choice voting” law, those independent voters’ second and third choices will be added to the two contenders’ totals sometime next week. Republicans fear Golden is the preferred second choice of most of those 22,000 voters.
Republicans maintain small leads in CA-45 (Walters), GA-07 (Woodall) and NC-09 (Open), but the counting of provisional ballots in each of these states could take weeks. Typically, late-counted mail-in and provisional ballots in California skew slightly to Democrats. The drama is set to last well beyond this week, and it’s not inconceivable Democrats’ eventual haul could be closer to 40 seats than 35.
A version of this article was previously published in The Cook Political Report.
Nigel Farage says his party will FIGHT next General Election
‘They have to get the shot’
By Dartunorro Clark
President Donald Trump on Friday urged parents to get their children vaccinated after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week record-high cases of measles since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.
“They have to get the shot. The vaccinations are so important,” Trump said outside the White House on his way to Indianapolis to address the NRA. “This is really going around now, they have to get their shot.”
New cases of measles reported in New York, New Jersey and California bring the total number of infections in the U.S. to at least 695 so far in 2019 according to new numbers released by CDC.
Nearly 300 students and employees at two Los Angeles universities were under quarantine Thursday and Friday after possible exposure to measles.
Trump’s comments on Friday differed from his past remarks on vaccinations.
At a 2015 Republican presidential candidate debate hosted by CNN, Trump said that he wanted to change the vaccine schedule for children, erroneously linking autism to vaccines.
“Autism has become an epidemic…I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time,” he said.
In a March 2014 tweet, Trump questioned why a child “gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines.”
“Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes — AUTISM. Many such cases!” he tweeted.
On Wednesday, New York City and suburban Rockland County confirmed an additional 37 measles cases, and California reported seven new cases. The second-highest number for measles cases in the U.S. was 667 in 2014, according to the CDC.
In New York City and Rockland County, there have been 590 cases since the measles outbreak began in October 2018. Los Angeles reported its first five cases on Monday.
Trump says no money paid to North Korea to have Otto Warmbier returned
By Adam Edelman
President Donald Trump on Friday denied that his administration had paid any money as part of a deal to get North Korea to return Otto Warmbier, whom the regime had detained.
“No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else,” Trump tweeted.
The tweet came in response to a Washington Post report on Thursday that North Korea had issued a $2 million bill to the U.S. for the medical care of Warmbier, who was returned to the U.S. in an unconscious state.
The regime, The Post reported, demanded that a U.S. official sign a pledge to pay the bill before Warmbier was allowed to be returned to the U.S.
State Department official Joseph Yun, who had traveled to North Korea in 2017 to help retrieve Warmbier, was instructed to sign the agreement by Trump and did so, The Post said. The bill was sent to the U.S. Treasury Department and remained unpaid throughout 2017. The Post said it was not clear whether the bill was later paid.
Responding to questions from NBC News about the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday, “We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration.”
Warmbier, 22, was arrested for taking a propaganda banner from a hotel while on a visit to Pyongyang in January 2016. The University of Virginia student from Ohio was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
The North Korean government released him in June 2017, and when he returned to U.S. soil, doctors found him to be in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. He died days later; the exact cause of death is still not known.
His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, were told he had been in a coma since shortly after being sentenced.
In February, Trump was slammed by politicians on both sides of the aisle after he absolved North Korean Kim Jong Un of blame in the death of Warmbier. Following a summit with Kim, Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, that it “just wasn’t to (Kim’s) advantage to let that happen.” He added: “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”
The president later tweeted that his comments had been misinterpreted and said, “Of course I hold North Korea responsible.”
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