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50 Interesting Facts About the 2018 Election

In keeping with our end-of-cycle tradition, we found 50 interesting things to tide you over during the holidays as we take a well-earned break. Happy Holidays!

1. While not all the election results have been certified yet, the U.S. Elections Project estimates that turnout in the 2018 mid-term election was 50.3 percent of eligible voters, making it the highest turnout in a midterm election since 1914 and the first time a majority of eligible voters cast ballots since women gained the right to vote.

2. According to the NBC News Exit Poll, 16 percent said that they were voting in their first mid-term election.

3. President Trump was mentioned in 16 percent of all U.S. House and Senate ads, the highest rate of any national political figure. Among Republican-sponsored House and Senate ads, he was mentioned in 20 percent of all spots. Nancy Pelosi came in a close second; she was featured in 19 percent of all Republican House and Senate ads. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

4. Some issues were mentioned at almost identical rates among Democratic and Republican advertisers. The issues that drew equal attention across party lines included “Food/Agriculture,” “Veterans Affairs,” and “Opioids/Opiates.” The issues at the polar ends of the spectrum highlight the topics of which each party has taken ownership. On the Democratic side, advertisers mentioned “Climate Change,” “Prescription Drugs: Cost,” and “Minimum Wage” at much higher rates whereas on the Republican side “Term Limits,” “Trade: Mexico,” and “Immigration” were the issues that dominated. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

5. Democrats ostensibly controlled the conversation around health care and mentioned it in nearly 54 percent of federal-level advertising and Democrats mentioned health care at a rate 2.5 times higher than Republicans. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

 


SENATE

6. Republicans scored a net gain of two seats, bringing their majority in the 116th Congress to 53 to 47 Democrats.

7. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii had the highest margin of victory at 41 points, 69 percent to 28 percent for Republican Ron Curtis.

8. The closest Senate race was in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by just 10,033 votes out of 8,190,005 ballots cast.

9. Once again, races in the Toss Up column broke in favor of one party, but it was by the lowest percentage recorded since we began keeping this chart in 1998. Republicans won 56 percent of Toss Up races, or 5 of 9.

10. Opensecrets.org projects that the total cost of Senate and House races for 2018 is $5.2 billion, making it the most expensive mid-term election in history. Outside groups spent $1.6 billion, up 61 percent over 2014

Five Senate races cost more than $100 million.

In the Texas Senate contest, spending by candidates only amounted to just over $125 million. (Courtesy Opensecrets.org)

11. Although Democratic U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri lost their re-election bids, the Senate will have a historic number of women serving in the 116th, thanks to victories by Democrats Jacky Rosen in Nevada and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and by Republican Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee, as well as the appointment of Republican Martha McSally in Arizona. This will bring the number of women in the Senate to 25.

12. Arizona joins California, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Washington as states in which both U.S. Senators are women.

13. And speaking of Arizona, it is rare for a losing Senate candidate to end up serving in the chamber with the candidate who defeated them. This is now the case in Arizona. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema defeated Republican Martha McSally in an open-seat race in November, but then GOP Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of GOP U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, who was filling the vacancy created by the death of GOP Sen. John McCain. Thus, Sinema and McSally will serve together just weeks after their hard-fought contest. It is difficult to find a completely analogous situation, but there are two examples of opponents eventually serving together in the Senate.

  • Rhode Island: In 1972, Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell won re-election against former GOP Gov. John Chafee. In 1976, the state’s other Senator, John O. Pastore, opted to retire. Chafee was the GOP nominee and won the open seat with 58 percent. Pell and Chafee served together from 1977 until Pell retired in 1996, forging a solid working relationship. (H/T: M. Charles Bakst, retired political columnist, The Providence Journal)

  • Washington: In 1986, Republican U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton lost his re-election bid to Democrat Brock Adams. Two years later in 1988, Gorton ran for the other Senate seat, which was open. He held the seat for two terms before losing to Democrat Maria Cantwell in 2000. Gorton and Adams only served together for four years as Adams retired when his first term ended in 1992. (H/T: Russell Berman, The Atlantic)

14. The Senate races with the highest number of unique general election advertisers were Montana and West Virginia, each with 24. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

15. Spending by issue groups in all US Senate races made up 44 percent of all spending, on par with the rate we saw in 2014 but down from 2016. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

16. The four Democratic outside group advertisers that were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were Senate Majority Pac (10), Majority Forward (9), AFSCME (4), and Demand Justice Initiative (4). (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

17. The four Republican outside group advertisers who were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were Senate Leadership Fund (7), One Nation (7), Americans for Prosperity (6), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (6). (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

18. The NRSC ran broadcast TV advertising in nine Senate races while the DSCC ran ads in seven. (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

19. Democrats ran Spanish language advertising in twice as many states as Republicans, running ads in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Virginia while Republicans aired Spanish-language ads in Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, and Texas. (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)

20. Finally, a point of curiosity: Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts did not air a single television ad in her re-election campaign. Her race wasn’t competitive – she got 60 percent of the vote. But did she miss an opportunity to make some early gains in her expected 2020 presidential campaign? The Boston media market reaches about one-third of the population in New Hampshire, the home of the first presidential primary. Warren could have aired some positive ads in her re-election campaign that might have had the added benefit of giving her a head start in the “first in the nation” state. It’s possible that Warren decided to save her war chest for later; according to her post-election FEC report, she had about $12.5 million in the bank at the end of November.


HOUSE

21. Democrats gained 40 seats in the House (not counting the unresolved race in NC-09) – at the upper end of the Cook Political Report’s pre-election forecast of a 30 to 40 seat gain. This is the largest net gain for the party since the Watergate midterm of 1974.

22. Democrats won about 9.7 million more votes for House than Republicans (8.6 percent) – the largest midterm raw vote margin ever and the largest percentage margin since 1986. This is mildly inflated by the fact 38 Democrats faced no major party opposition on the ballot compared to just three Republicans – the largest differential of “unopposed” races in modern history.

23. After 2018, House Democrats will represent 54 percent of the American population but just 20 percent of America’s land area. There will be zero Republicans representing Orange County, CA and only one representing New Jersey.

24. After 2018, House Democrats will represent 78 percent of all Whole Foods Market locations (up from 65 percent today), but just 27 percent of all Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations (up from 21 percent today). Of the 43 districts Democrats flipped from Republican control, 69 percent contain a Whole Foods Market.

25. After 2018, House Democrats will represent 66 percent of all 2016 Clinton voters but just 39 percent of all 2016 Trump voters.

26. After 2018, House Democrats will represent 79 percent of all Asian residents of the U.S., 72 percent of Latinos and 66 percent of African-Americans, but just 45 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

27. Asian voters turned out to be a pretty good indicator of Democratic House pickups. Of the 50 GOP-held seats with the highest Asian populations, Democrats flipped 27 – which accounts for two thirds of Democrats’ net gain in the House.

28. 2018 was the first year in history Americans elected more than 100 women to the House of Representatives: Democrats increased their ranks of women from 61 to 89 (46 percent), while Republican women fell from 23 to 13 (43 percent). There will be 36 new women in the House, the highest number in history, eclipsing the previous record of 24 elected in 1992.

29. Of the 62 Democratic freshmen joining the House, 35 are women (56 percent). Of the 30 Republican freshmen joining the House, just one, Carol Miller (WV-03) will be a woman (three percent).



30. When the House convenes in January, 90 percent of House Republicans will be white men, compared to just 38 percent of House Democrats. This is the widest demographic gap in history. Currently, white males are 86 percent of House Republicans and 41 percent of House Democrats.

31. The average age of the top three Democratic leaders in the House (Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn) is 79 years old. The average age of the 62 incoming Democratic House freshmen is 45 years old. This is the largest freshmen vs. leadership age differential in modern history.

32. There were 85 districts where the number of raw votes cast was at least 90 percent of the raw votes cast in the 2016 presidential election – an unprecedented turnout for a midterm election. There were even two districts, MT-AL and WA-05, where the total number of votes cast was greater than in 2016.

33. Despite losing a net 40 seats, Republicans actually won a slightly higher share of the closest races: they won 22 of the 43 districts decided by less than five percent – suggesting that their result actually could have been a lot worse.

34. After this year’s election, there will be 31 Democrats representing districts won by Donald Trump in 2016 (not including NC-09, where a new election may be held), compared to just three Republicans representing districts won by Hillary Clinton: Reps. John Katko (NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Will Hurd (TX-23). Before the election, there were 25 Republicans representing districts won by Clinton and 13 Democrats representing districts won by Trump.

35. Republican Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23) will be the only member of the House who has won three consecutive general elections by less than 1.5 percent of the vote.

36. The Democrat who overperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance by the most was Richard Ojeda, who took 44 percent of the vote compared to Clinton’s 23 percent in WV-03. Ojeda still lost by 13 percent.

37. The Republican who overperformed Donald Trump’s 2016 performance by the most was Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), who won reelection by 21 points in a district Trump won by just two points.

38. Ben McAdams (UT-04) will be the Democrat who represents the most Republican-leaning district (PVI: R+13).

39. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) is the Republican that represents the most Democrat-leaning district (PVI: D+3). He's also the sole Republican in a Democratic-leaning district (according to Cook PVI). 

40. The closest race was in GA-07 where Republican Rep. Rob Woodall defeated Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux by 433 votes. 

41. According to OpenSecrets.org, the most expensive House race of 2018 (excluding special elections) was CA-39, where candidates and outside groups spent a total of $36.8 million, including $12 million spent by the eventual Democratic victor, mega-millions jackpot winner Gil Cisneros. The next most expensive races were CA-48 ($34.9 million), WA-08 ($33.7 million), NY-19 ($32 million) and PA-01 ($30.9 million).

42. According to OpenSecrets.org, the top-spending House candidate of the cycle was self-funding Democrat David Trone, who spent $18 million en route to winning MD-06 after spending $13 million on a failed bid in an adjacent district last cycle.  

43. The House Majority PAC (D) and the Congressional Leadership Fund (R) were the two most active outside groups in House races. Each one was involved in 43 congressional races; both groups played in 26 of these 43 races. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)  

44. The House races with the highest number of unique advertisers were in the 6th congressional district in Kentucky and the 2nd CD in Maine, each with 12. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG). The NRCC ran broadcast TV advertising in 48 House contests while the DCCC ran ads in 72 congressional districts. (Courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)


GOVERNORS

45. At the start of 2018, Republicans held 33 of the 50 governorships, compared to 16 for Democrats and one independent in Alaska. Once the votes were counted on Election Night (and in the days after), Democrats had a net gain of six seats, leaving them with 23 seats to 27 for Republicans. The GOP picked up the independent-held seat in Alaska.

46. Democrats did not lose a single seat. Republicans suffered losses almost entirely in blue (Illinois, Maine, New Mexico) and purple (Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin) states. The GOP lost one red state: Kansas.

47. The widest margin of victory came in the open-seat race in Wyoming where Republican Mark Gordon defeated Democrat Mary Thone by 40 points, 67 percent to 27 percent.

48. The closest race was in the open-seat race in Florida where Republican Ron DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum by 32,463 votes out of 8,220,561 ballots cast.

49. According to the Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Governors now represent 54 percent of the U.S. population.

50. Before the election, there were six women Governors. Despite the fact that Republican Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma were term limited; there are now nine women state chief executives, thanks to victories by challengers in November. There are four new Democratic Governors: Laura Kelly in Kansas, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Janet Mills in Maine and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. There is one new Republican Governor: Kristi Noem in South Dakota. Lujan Grisham is the first Democratic Latina in the nation to win a gubernatorial race.