National News

Nearly a Month After the Midterms, Two House Races Are Still Undecided

Posted November 30, 2018 2:07 p.m. EST

And here you thought the midterms would be over after the special election in Mississippi on Tuesday.

No such luck. Twenty-four days after the polls closed Nov. 6, two House races remain at least nominally unsettled (as do 210 state legislative seats, not that anyone’s counting). In both cases, the winner seems clear, but the margins of victory are small enough — less than 1 percentage point — that The Associated Press has not issued an official call.

A third race, in North Carolina’s 9th District, was also thrown into question this week when the state’s elections board voted unanimously not to certify the results, citing irregularities in absentee ballots in one county. Mark Harris, a Republican, won there by less than half a percentage point.

Here’s a look at where the uncalled races stand:

California’s 21st District

Of all the House races in California that might have dragged on to the very last moment, District 21 — a largely rural slice of the Central Valley — would not have been most people’s guess. The Republican incumbent, David Valadao, was heavily favored, and indeed, the AP called the race for Valadao on election night.

But three weeks later, the AP was forced to retract its call after absentee and provisional ballots gave Valadao’s Democratic challenger, T.J. Cox, a narrow lead — about four-tenths of a percentage point — that looks likely to hold. Cox declared victory Wednesday, but Valadao has not conceded. A definitive result will have to wait until California officials certify vote totals Dec. 14.

If Cox does win, Democrats will have gained seven House seats in California alone — a historic wipeout for Republicans, who had long dominated certain regions of California despite being outnumbered statewide.

New York’s 27th District

Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican, was expected to cruise to re-election in this rural and very red district in western New York — until August, when he was charged with insider trading. Collins quickly said he would suspend his re-election campaign, but changed course a month later and remained on the ballot.

Democrats saw an opening to pick up a seat in one of the most conservative parts of New York, but it looks like Collins eked out a victory by about 2,500 votes. An election official in Erie County, which is part of the district, said it was “mathematically improbable” that the outstanding ballots would change the result, and Collins’ Democratic opponent, Nate McMurray, conceded Monday.

But the race remains technically undecided in the eyes of the AP, and may remain so until New York certifies its election results. After all, McMurray essentially conceded once before, on election night, only to decide the next day to pursue a recount.

The certification deadline is Dec. 15.