With more than 50 races still uncalled as of early Wednesday afternoon, House Democrats hoping to grow their majority had failed to defeat a single Republican incumbent, while they lost a handful of seats in Trump-friendly districts and two in a part of Florida considered central to President Donald Trump’s victory in the state.
The losses served as a reality check for Democrats, who entered the election expecting that the president would do worse than he did in 2016 in many districts, potentially allowing them to flip seats in districts Trump previously won by double digits.
But in the end, the historic 43 seats they flipped in the 2018 midterms left them vulnerable. Six of the seven seats they lost were by freshmen members in those districts. Five were in the 30 districts Democrats held that Trump won in 2016, which Republicans had tagged as obvious targets.
And two, in Florida’s 26th and 27th districts, were southern Florida districts where Hispanic voters responded to Republicans’ attempts to paint Democrats as aligned with socialist regimes in Cuba and Latin America.
Here are the incumbents who have lost their races so far:
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, FL-26
52-48 to Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez
Trump 2016: -16
Freshman Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost her south Florida House seat to Carlos Gimenez, a popular Miami-Dade County mayor who was one of two candidates on the federal ballot who had led their communities during the COVID crisis. Gimenez, who is Cuban-American, tied Mucarsel-Powell to Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Republicans attacked her for her husband’s work for firms associated with a Ukranian “warlord.” Inside Elections rated the race Tilt Democratic.
Donna E. Shalala, FL-27
52-48 to Cuban American TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar
Trump 2016: -20
Cuban American television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar defeated freshman Democrat Donna E. Shalala in South Florida’s majority Hispanic 27th District. Salazar tied Shalala to “Democratic socialists” on the left and attacked her for failing to disclose stock trades while in office. She also focused on extensive outreach to the Hispanic community, gaining an edge over Shalala, who does not speak Spanish. Salazar was leading 51 to 49 percent when The Associated Press called the race at 10:58 p.m. Tuesday. Trump lost the district by 20 points in 2016. The race had not attracted any outside spending, a sign that neither party saw it as among the most competitive of the cycle. Inside Elections rated the race Solid Democrat.
Collin C. Peterson, MN-07
54-40 to former Lt.Gov. Michelle Fischbach
Trump 2016: +31
After several cycles of ticket-splitting wins, Peterson lost his bid for a 16th term, and the district lost his clout as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Fischbach raised more money than Peterson and was likely aided in her support for Trump, who carried the district by 31 points in 2016. Peterson, an anti-abortion conservative Democrat, largely avoided crossing Trump — he voted against the House impeachment charges — but ultimately endorsed Biden
Kendra Horn, OK-05
52-48 to state Sen. Stephanie Bice
Trump 2016: +14
Horn, a surprise winner in 2018, lost to Biden in a suburban Oklahoma City district where Trump has maintained steady support. Bice, a moderate who has touted her record defending conservative values such as fiscal responsibility, abortion opposition and gun rights, emerged from a bruising late-August primary to outraise Horn in the third quarter of this year. Republicans painted Horn, who has a moderate record, as a Pelosi liberal who threatened oil and gas industry jobs. In conceding, Horn said her campaign “changed minds and built a movement of support in a district that pundits thought was unwinnable. When many voters in this district had lost faith that their vote counted for something, we gave them hope. That’s a victory in itself.”
Joe Cunningham, SC-01
51-49 to state Rep. Nancy Mace
Trump 2016: +11
Cunningham entered the 2020 cycle as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress after flipping a Charleston-area district by a single point. He had managed to build a strong local profile and amass a sizable fundraising advantage by avoiding partisan disputes and focusing instead on opposition to offshore drilling. But Mace, the first female graduate of the Citadel military college, was able to counter that she had sponsored legislation opposing it.
Xochitl Torres Small, NM-02
54-46 to former state Rep. Yvette Herrell
Trump 2016: +10
Torres Small lost a rematch to Herrell in the rural district after being portrayed as a Pelosi-aligned liberal working to end oil and gas production and kill jobs. Torres Small, a former water rights attorney, countered with her own ads promoting work to support the industry.
Abby Finkenauer, IA-01
51-49 to state Rep. Ashley Hinson
Trump 2016: +4
Republicans touted Hinson, a former broadcast journalist who was well known in Cedar Rapids, as a top recruit against Finkenauer, who had flipped the district from red to blue in 2018. Hinson previously won a competitive state House seat that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
Bridget Bowman, Lindsey McPherson and Chris Marquette contributed to this report.