Imagine that you’re running for political office. It’s a close race, and as the numbers roll in on Election Night, you’re not sure whether you’re going to win or lose. Now imagine that you’re still wondering . . . several weeks later. The November 6 midterm elections may already feel like a long time ago. But several races still haven’t been decided or were only decided recently, including some of the most hotly-contested ones.
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Why the delay? In some cases, it takes a while to count all of the absentee and provisional ballots that were cast. States like California, which has a high number of absentee voters, routinely take until several days after an election to decide a winner. In other instances, the vote count is so close that it triggers a machine or manual recount. It’s also possible in some places that if neither candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election will take place. Here, Election Central looks at some of the closest races of this election cycle.
The Florida governor’s race gained national attention as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, faced off against Republican representative Ron DeSantis. Gillum had initially conceded to DeSantis on Election Night. However, the race was so close that it triggered a machine recount. When it was completed last weekend, DeSantis was still ahead by more than 33,000 votes. Finally on Saturday, November 17, Andrew Gillum officially conceded the race and the governor’s seat was awarded to the Republican.
In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams fought a hard race against Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. She wound up only 55,000 votes behind out of almost four million ballots cast, though this was not quite enough to trigger an automatic runoff. Though Kemp ended up with more votes, allegations of voter suppression during early voting and on Election Day caused the validity of the results to be called into question. Though Abrams acknowledged on Sunday, November 18 that Kemp was the legal governor and winner of the election, she continues to question the way in which the election was conducted.
The race for Jeff Flake’s open Senate seat in Arizona pitted Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema against Republican Representative Martha McSally. As of Election Night, McSally was ahead by a narrow margin. However, as absentee and provisional ballots trickled in, Sinema slowly took the lead. When the race was finally called on Monday, November 12, Sinema had won, with 49.7 percent of the vote to McSally’s 48 percent. Sinema’s win flipped a traditionally Republican seat and ensures that Democrats will hold at least 47 seats in the Senate. Sinema has also become Arizona’s first woman to be elected to the Senate.
As of this publication, the Republicans retained control the United States Senate and even gained more of a majority. They now have a 52 to 47 seat advantage. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats saw their biggest advantages, taking a fairly strong majority control of the chamber. They now have a 234 to 200 seat majority in the House and are in the process of determining which Democrats will take on important leadership and committee chair positions when the new Congress begins its term in January 2019.