Some House Democrats fall while the party fails to flip some key suburban districts
Posted November 4, 2020 7:25 a.m. EST
CNN — House Democrats went into election night feeling good about expanding their majority, but haven't had the big night they hoped for so far, with at least two Democrats in seats President Donald Trump won in 2016 losing and several top-targeted Republicans holding onto their seats, according to CNN projections early Wednesday morning.
Republicans ousted Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn, whose upset victory in Oklahoma's 5th District was a major surprise in 2018 after Trump won the district in 2016. Democrats had hoped that the suburbs outside of Oklahoma City were moving away from Republicans, and the race remained close until the end with both sides pouring in money. But state Sen. Stephanie Bice returned the seat to GOP hands, a notable win for Republicans who have been hoping to increase the number of women in the GOP conference.
Republicans will gain another woman in the conference with Michelle Fischbach's defeat of Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson. The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee represents the district Trump won by the largest margin of any held by a Democrat. An ideological outlier in his party (he voted against impeachment and opposes abortion rights), Peterson scored narrow victories against an underfunded challenger the past two cycles, but this year faced his strongest challenge in years.
The GOP also held onto a number of seats in districts that Democrats had targeted this year and hoped to flip, even in suburban areas that had looked to be moving away from the President.
Republican Rep. Ann Wagner, who was viewed as an embattled incumbent in the St. Louis suburbs, defeated Democratic challenger Jill Schupp in Missouri's 2nd District. In Nebraska's 2nd District, which CNN has projected for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Republican Rep. Don Bacon defeated Democratic opponent Kara Eastman in a rematch that was widely viewed as more competitive than their 2018 matchup. In Arkansas' 2nd District, Republican Rep. French Hill, who faced a competitive fight for his seat in the Little Rock suburbs, defeated Democrat Joyce Elliott.
Republican Troy Nehls kept a Texas seat in GOP hands by defeating Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni in the 22nd District, an open seat that Democrats were targeting this year.
Redistricting had improved Democratic prospects in several North Carolina Districts. Democrats flipped two districts that had been redrawn to be much safer for them, with Deborah Ross winning the 2nd District and Kathy Manning winning the 6th District. But Democrats failed to flip the 8th District, where the GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund had spent several million dollars to defend GOP Rep. Richard Hudson against Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice.
After Democrats won the House majority in 2018, Republicans planned to target Democratic lawmakers who flipped districts Trump had won in 2016. And when the House voted to impeach the President, Republicans vowed that moderate Democrats would pay a price at the ballot box. Democrats, however, were confident that the same health care message that carried them to victory in 2018 would resonate in 2020.
With Trump's poll numbers sagging, amid the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout, the political landscape appeared to favor Democrats in the weeks leading up to November 3, with top Democrats projecting confidence that their party would be in a strong position on election night.