NRMCA Provides Post Election Day Updates, Look Ahead

While legal challenges continue in a number of states in both the presidential and congressional elections, the NRMCA Government Affairs team provides the following updates:

Senate - With four races still to be called, the Senate stands at 46 Democrats, 2 Independents (who both caucus with Democrats) and 50 Republicans. As a result, control of the Senate will be decided on January 5 when Georgia holds the runoff elections for both of its Senate seats. Democrats need to win both to reach 50 votes, with Kamala Harris breaking the tie as vice president.

Republicans in Iowa, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Alabama easily prevailed in their respective races. Republican challengers in Minnesota and Michigan fell short, though Michigan Senate candidate John James last is not conceding yet. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) were defeated, while Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was reelected by a healthy margin, though just narrowly avoiding the ranked-choice voting that cost former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) his seat in 2018.

The four outstanding races are in Alaska, North Carolina and the two Georgia seats. In Alaska, a notoriously slow vote count and crosscheck process means that counting of absentee votes will not begin until November 10 and the last ballots won’t be counted until November 18. On Election Day, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) led his independent challenger by more than 30 points and expects to easily win reelection.

Though Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has a nearly 100,000 vote lead, the Senate race in North Carolina has yet to be called. While 100% of precincts have reported, election officials have advised that there are 116,000 absentee ballots that – if postmarked by Election Day and received by November 12 – will be tabulated and reported by November 13.

Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to fill serve the balance of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-GA) term, received 26% of the vote behind Democrat Rafael Warnock’s 37%. Since no candidate received 50%, they will face off in a special election on January 5, 2021. Similarly, in the days after the election, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) saw his share of the vote drop from over 51% to under 50%, triggering a second runoff.

House - Despite confidence that Democrats would hold their House majority, Democrats are privately in disarray after shocking losses nationwide. Not only did Democrats fail to defeat a single Republican incumbent, but they lost at least seven seats held by moderate Democrats and whiffed on several easy pick-up opportunities in seats held by outgoing Reps. Pete King (R-NY) and Will Hurd (R-TX) while winning three Democratic-favored open seats in North Carolina and Georgia. While there is disagreement over whether liberal rhetoric cost House Democrats’ seats, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) warned against liberal rhetoric in the Georgia Senate races.

Strengthening and diversifying their conference, Republicans added women, minorities and veterans to the House Republican caucus. The Republican congressional leadership team will likely remain the same, with Minority Leader McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Scalise (R-LA), Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer (R-MN) expected to seek reelection to their current leadership offices.

Takeaways - Assuming the most likely scenarios – a Biden presidency and a slim Republican Senate – not much is expected to change in Washington, and the business community’s fears of a liberal, progressive agenda are moot. With Republicans holding the Senate, Joe Biden’s cabinet and administration will be limited to political appointees that can pass muster with a Republican majority. Senator McConnell’s team is already signaling that a Biden administration will get cooperation from a Republican senate on centrist nominees, but will not confirm “radical progressives.”

Despite discontent within the Democratic caucus, Speaker Pelosi, who formally launched her bid to be reelected as speaker by her caucus, will not likely be challenged when the 117th Congress convenes. In disarray after a shocking underperformance in Tuesday’s election, the Democratic caucus call on Thursday devolved into “chaos” and underscored the growing divide between the moderate “majority makers” and progressive Democrats – a dynamic the Democratic House leadership will have even more difficulty navigating with a narrower majority.

If history is a guide, Democrats will perform poorly in the 2022 midterm election. Kevin McCarthy is already preparing to run for speaker in the 118th Congress, and Democrats will be eyeing elections in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. But that’s a pretty long way away.

An underreported story in 2020 is the Republicans’ retaining and solidifying control of many state legislatures ahead of the critical redistricting based on the 2020 census. Republicans also gained a governor mansion in Montana, where former Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) won.

For more information, contact Andrew Tyrrell at

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