Update, November 8, 8:50 pm: Democrats have held on to their majority, with races yet to be called that will determine the exact balance of power.
But the vote count, as in several other races, is coming in slowly — and it could be days or weeks before we know the House’s exact makeup. Democrats appear to have maintained control of the chamber, but with a slimmer majority.
Democrats won the House in the 2018 midterm elections, netting more than 40 seats to regain a sliver of power after two years of complete Republican control. Their new majority set about passing a largely symbolic agenda meant to demonstrate how they would govern if they retook the presidency and the Senate (with voting rights bills and legislation to lower health care costs at the top of the list) while trying to stave off fights among party members (Medicare-for-all never got a House vote, but committee hearings were held).
The history books will most remember the Democratic House majority of the 116th Congress for impeaching President Donald Trump in December 2019, over his apparent attempts to use the power of his office to solicit politically damaging information about Joe Biden before the latter won the Democratic presidential nomination.
But now, Democrats are trying to hold on to their House majority with the hopes of winning a House-Senate-president trifecta — and getting a real chance to implement their agenda. Election forecasters considered Democrats to be heavy favorites to retain control and perhaps even gain seats. But as votes come in, Democrats appear headed toward a reduced House majority, and a Senate majority looks increasingly unlikely.
Here’s how Vox (and other media outlets) will be making calls throughout the night and following days. Vox is carrying live results, powered by our friends at Decision Desk. You can also follow live results for the presidential election here and Senate races here.
Three key states to watch in the 2020 US House elections
There are competitive House races across the country on Tuesday, from first-term Democrats trying to win reelection in Oklahoma and Utah with Trump on the ballot to vulnerable Republicans in Arkansas and Oklahoma hoping the president can help carry them to victory.
California and New York have a lot of House seats, and therefore a good number of close races. On the other end of that spectrum, Don Young, Alaska’s only at-large representative since 1973, is facing maybe his most serious reelection challenge to date.
But a handful of presidential swing states will also play an outsized role in the make-up of the House. Here is a sampling of some of the races we’re watching.
Texas: The Cook Political Report put seven House seats in Texas in their most competitive categories (Lean Democrat, toss-up, or Lean Republican). Democrats hoped to have a good shot to pick up at least a couple seats. One race in the 24th District is still close, but they are few other signs of a blue wave in the state.
North Carolina: A state court ruled last year that the Republican state legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered North Carolina’s congressional districts and ordered new, fairer maps to be drawn. That put five of the state’s 13 districts in play, according to Cook. Two of them were vacated by Republican incumbents after the districts were redrawn and are now considered likely Democratic pickups. But Democrats needed a substantial wave to gain more ground, and potential pick-ups in North Carolina’s Eighth, Ninth, and 11th Districts were ultimately called for Republicans.
Iowa: Three of Iowa’s four House races were expected to be competitive on election night, according to Cook, thanks to the state’s independent redistricting commission that aims to prevent partisan gerrymandering. Two have been called, but the Iowa Second District seat is still a tight race as votes come in.
Correction, 6:30 pm ET: This post has been updated to accurately reflect poll closing times in Alaska and Hawaii.