Had the red wave actually arrived, Republicans would have spent the last week uncorking Dom Perignon. As it happens, however, GOP leadership has had to wait for excruciatingly slow counts in House races to see what the final parameters of their thin majority would be.
If Gallo still sold Ripple, they’d be unscrewing the caps and guzzling it by the gallon.
Still, it does appear that Kevin McCarthy might end up with the mirror image of Nancy Pelosi’s majority the past two years. If all of the five currently uncalled races finish in their current status, the House would split 222-213, a narrow but defensible majority for the GOP. If it ended at 218-217, the meat market would erupt as both parties tried to woo centrists across the aisle to seize or firm up control of the lower chamber.
Right now, the two races most at risk for a flip are CA-13, where Republican John Duarte holds an 827-vote lead over Adam Gray in the Merced area, and Lauren Boebert’s near-dead heat in CO-3. That race looks certain to be headed for a recount, as Boebert’s lead has dropped to 551 votes:
The Associated Press has declared the election in the 3rd Congressional District too close to call. With nearly all votes counted, the incumbent Boebert leads Democrat Adam Frisch by 0.16 percentage points out of nearly 327,000 votes counted.
A margin that small qualifies for an automatic recount under Colorado law, in a race that has drawn national attention as Republicans try to boost their numbers after winning control of the US House by a narrow margin Wednesday.
As counties finalized unofficial results Thursday, Boebert’s already slim lead was cut in half. All but one of the 27 counties in the district had reported final results by Thursday evening. Otero County plans to finalize its numbers on Friday.
In Colorado, a mandatory recount is triggered when the margin of votes between the top two candidates is at or below 0.5% of the leading candidate’s vote total. On Thursday night, that margin was around .34%.
If it’s any consolation, Otero is firmly in Boebert’s column. She’s running +17 in Otero County among ballots already counted, but it’s one of the smaller counties in CO-3. There likely aren’t a lot more votes to count, which means the automatic recount is all but certain. Normally recounts don’t make a lot of difference, but with the two candidates separated by a few hundred votes, a recount could change the race enough to show a different outcome.
What about the other races? The Duarte-Gray race may not have an automatic recount required, but we can probably guess that the losing candidate in CA-13 will demand one anyway. As of now, though, the other two outstanding House races in which Republicans lead look more firmly in the GOP column for now. Incumbent Republican David Valadao is up six points over Rudy Salas in CA-22 with 75% of the vote counted, and Republican Kevin Kiley leads Kermit Jones in rural CA-3 by nearly five points with 61% of the vote counted. Even without Boebert, those two races would give McCarthy a five-seat majority, 220-215 — uncomfortable but likely serviceable enough.
The only other outstanding race is Alaska’s at-large House seat, but that’s all but over. Democrat Mary Peltola has 48.1% of the vote, while Sarah Palin and Nick Begich split the other half (26.1% and 23.8%), with another 2% split between Libertarian Chris Bye and write-ins. This will go to the next stage of ranked-choice vote counting, which Peltola will win easily; the rancor between Palin and Begich all but guarantees that healthy numbers of Begich’s voters will not have listed Palin as a second choice. This would be called already if not for the RCV system Alaska adopted.
So when will we know what the final landscape looks like? We may not get a firm number until Thanksgiving at this rate, or maybe even later than that. It’s an embarrassment that American states can’t structure their elections in similar fashion to Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, and other states that have plenty of options for early voting but are disciplined enough to deliver accurate results within hours rather than weeks. Maybe we don’t even deserve a Ripple at the end of this cycle.