Everything you want to know about the 2018 midterm House elections in 8 charts
You’re well aware the 2018 midterm elections took place, but you probably weren’t nuts enough to stay up to see the almost final results. Luckily for you, we were and we did.
Here’s what happened.
House of Representatives: (Note: uncalled races are projected using predictions from FiveThirtyEight live predictions as of 11:00am Nov. 12. Totals will be updated as races are made official.)
- 116th party breakdown: 231 Dem., 204 Rep.
- No. of new members: 92, rivaling the 2010 Republican red wave.
- No. of women elected: 105, a new record high. 90 are Democrats.
- No. of seat flips: 41. Thirty-eight went towards Dems.
- No. of losing incumbents: 27. Every single one of them was a Republican.
- Biggest upsets:
- OK-05 – Kendra Horn (D) upset incumbent Steve Russell (R) in deep red Oklahoma. Horn had a 7% chance per FiveThirtyEight’s deluxe model.
- SC-01 – Joe Cunningham (D) had only a 9% chance to beat Katie Arrington (R) and flip the open seat vacated by Mark Sanford for the Dems. He did just that.
Now let’s get to the visuals.
1. The 116th Congress district map – as it stands now.
To provide a lay of the new land, let’s start off with the projected map for the 116th Congress. Again, this shows races as projected as of 11:30am Monday Nov. 12th, and could change. Darker colors indicate a flipped seat.
2. Year of the woman.
The biggest winners of the night? Women. A record 105 women are projected to be sworn into the House come January. Democrats make up the lion’s share of that tally with 90; Republicans elected 15 women, a slight drop from their 115th totals. Twenty-four percent of the chamber will be female, a sharp increase from the Congress prior.
3. Minorities are also gaining. Kinda.
The House is slowly but surely becoming more racially diverse as the percentage of black representatives finally crossed the 10 percent mark for the chamber. Unsurprisingly, Democrats drive most of this total with over 20% of their caucus being black. The percentage of Hispanics on the other hand, barely gained from the 115th, and even saw a slight drop on the Democratic side.
4. Thanks to new Dems, the House is getting younger.
The House is getting younger, driven by a large slate of young new members and the retirements and losses of much older ones. This is especially true for newly elected freshmen, particularly on the Democratic side who saw their mean member age drop from 53.2 years in the 115th to a staggering 45.1. Fun fact: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is slated to be the youngest member of the 116th at 29 years old. How much will this phenomenon impact their leadership choices where the frontrunners (Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn) are all found at the far right of the party age distribution?
5. The number of House freshmen is on the rise.
Ninety-two new members were elected in 2018, 61 Democrats and 31 Republicans, largely stemming from a high number of member retirements and incumbent defeats. This number rivals the two largest “waves” in recent history, including Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” of 1994 and the Republicans’ more recent red wave in 2010. (Note: data on previous congresses was collected from this CRS report on House freshmen.)
6. Dems outperformed Hillary and that made all the difference.
Democratic success in the House depended on victories in many different types of districts, but important for many candidates was outperforming Hillary Clinton’s margins in 2016. The bluer the district in the map above, the better the Democrat did compared to Hillary; redder districts – much rarer – are Republican overperformers compared to Trump. Clearly, Dems claimed the advantage here: In competitive districts, the average Democrat beat Hillary’s 2016 margin in their district by around 5 percentage points. This was enough to put a number of Trump-won districts into Dems’ hands, and a few Clinton districts out of reach for Republicans.
7. Polls were solid, but Dems outperformed projected vote shares.
One of the big questions following the 2016 election was whether the polls – and the many complicated models that accompany them – would hold up. We compared FiveThirtyEight’s predicted vote shares for Democrats with Dems’ actual results, and the model holds up quite well in terms of projecting winners. Nate Silver and his crew predicted an average gain of 39 House seats for Democrats, and based on where the results are at the moment, Democrats appear poised for a 38 seat gain.
8. Republicans lost a whole lotta committee chairs.
We knew going into the election that a huge number of GOP committee chairs would not be around to gavel in the 116th Congress. In fact, nine Reps. who served as chairs in the 115th weren’t on the ballot, mostly due to retirements (e.g., Gowdy), or to run for higher office (Black). Pete Sessions’ (TX-32) stunning upset, however, catapulted the count of departed chairman to 10 for the 115th Congress, a record since the 108th Congress. Will this huge loss of institutional memory push Republicans to reconsider their term limits on committee chairs?