Historic voter turnout drives Democrats’ win in House, governor’s races

Photo: Census.gov

Nov. 7 (UPI) — For the first time in nearly a decade, the House of Representatives will be controlled by Democrats — after the party made substantial gains in the lower chamber in a number of key midterm races, many marked by record voter turnout.

With several races still unsettled Wednesday, Democrats had surpassed the 219-seat threshold it needed to wrest control from Republicans — a gain of 26 seats. Key additions in Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida races helped push the Democrats over the top.

The new majority will formally begin when lawmakers take office in January.

Democrats also performed well in gubernatorial races across the country, gaining at least six governorships in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Nevada. Republicans have picked up no gubernatorial races so far.

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is also projected to lose, which would total seven Democratic pickups. Races in Georgia and Connecticut have not yet been settled.

Republicans fared better in the Senate, winning three new seats.

Mike Braun convincingly beat Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana; Kevin Cramer defeated Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in South Dakota; and Josh Hawley knocked off incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskillin Missouri.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to unseat incumbent Bill Nelson, though Nelson had not yet conceded.

The vote tallies follow what appears to be historic voter turnout nationwide.

The U.S. Election Project, run by Michael McDonald from the University of Florida, estimated that 111.56 million Americans cast votes in the midterms this year, easily making it the most participated midterms this century. The next highest total came in 2010 when 90.91 million ballots were counted around the country.

Eight million ballots were cast in Florida, an increase from 6 million for the last midterm in 2014, Time magazine reported. In 2010, 5.5 million voted in the state.

Every county in central Florida experienced higher voter turnout, and in Orange County, 59.7 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, an increase of 15 percent.

Many of the ballots, about 5 million, were early or mail-in ballots.

Arizona saw record turnout, as well. About 2.18 million voters participated, or 58.6 percent of all registered voters — the most in state history for midterms.

More than 2.6 million voters in Wisconsin topped the turnout for the hotly contested 2012 recall against Walker, and amounted to more ballots than some states recorded in the 2016 presidential election.

In Maryland, WUSA-TV reported turnout was so strong in Prince George‘s County that at least four polling places ran out of ballots.

Buoyed by the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine and GOP challenger Corey Stewart, Virginians cast almost 3.3 million ballots, an increase of more than 1 million over 2014.

Almost 2.8 million votes were cast in New Jersey, beating its 2014 midterm total of fewer than 2 million, and Kentucky narrowly topped its 2014 turnout.

Texas saw its 2014 midterm totals beaten during early voting. The Houston Chronicle reported the state, which had ranked last in the United States in voter participation, saw 4.8 million early voters — higher than any of its last four midterms.


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