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The Incumbents Who Lost in 2018

by Axios | Updated on 11.8.18

The most surprising — and least surprising — thing about the 2018 midterms is that we were aware of almost this exact outcome at the start of the cycle.

The big picture: The incumbents who lost were mostly predictable because they were the most vulnerable all long: House Republican incumbents in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and red-state Democratic senators in Trump country.


Graphic: Aïda Amer/Axios

By the numbers: After the 2018 midterm elections, 30 House Republican incumbents lost their seats to a Democrat. Of those, 19 were in Clinton-won districts, while nine were incumbents who Republicans had previously said were in competitive, coin-flip races.

And two were genuine surprises — Mia Love in Utah, who appeared headed for a loss, and Dan Donovan in New York, who has officially been defeated.

  • President Trump won the state of Utah by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016, and zero Republicans I talked to throughout the cycle ever mentioned Love's name when discussing which members were in danger.
  • Donovan was New York City's last House Republican in the state's 11th district, which Trump won by 10 percentage points in 2016 and which Cook Political Report rated as "lean Republican." Even Democrats were texting me on election night in disbelief of his loss.
  • Three red-state Democratic senators lost their re-election bid, and all voted against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller was always considered the most vulnerable Republican senator. He had an on-again-off-again relationship with the president, and he was the only GOP senator defending a seat in a state that Clinton won.
  • Both Republican governors who lost were in for a reckoning as their states' politics and demographics have shifted, and they've both faced serious challengers in the past.

The bottom line: Trump focused most of his time on Republicans running for Senate and governor, leaving many House GOP incumbents out to dry in 2018. And national events (like the Supreme Court fight) were too big to overcome for Democrats in red states.

Go deeper:

-Alexi McCammond

Axios

Written by Axios

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(26)
  • burrkitty
    11/08/2018
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    Looks like a bunch of inflexible old white men. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Buh bye swamp creatures.

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  • J. scott
    last Friday
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    To my representatives it was the blue wave 🌊 not some preexisting mysterious Vulnerably is what took the House. Also, Trump most Trump endorsed candidates nation wide went down in flames and many races in Red States were close. Finally, 2018 represents the largest loss of seats in the House by either party in 40 years. That’s a wave 🌊 - so if you’re not a Democrat we are coming for you in 2020. Trump has coattails for sure but they are filled with lead. Don’t be a looser wise up before it’s too late. Oh, and we did it in spite of extreme gerrymandering - take heed.

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  • Kodiwodi
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Coffman, Sessions, Brat, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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  • Judith
    11/08/2018
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    CONGRATULATIONS DEMOCRATS ! GOOD FIGHT AND THE FIGHT IS NOT DONE !! NOW THAT REPUBLICANS HAVE SHOWN THEIR TRUE COLORS, DON'T GET ANY STUPID AIRY FAIRY POLLYANNA IDEAS OF REACHING OUT TO THE AUTOCRATIC REPUBLICANS AGAIN THAT LEAVES US OPEN LIKE FOOLS AND LETS REPUBLICANS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT AND GET CONTROL OF BOTH THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE HOUSE AND SENATE AGAIN !! EVERY TIME IN THIS MODERN ERA THAT REPUBLICANS GET INTO POWER IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS THEY START WARS, TORTURE AND SCREW EVERYTHING UP WITH THEIR CORRUPTION TRYING TO RUN THIS COUNTRY AS CLOSE TO A DICTATORSHIP AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN ! REPUBLICANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO LEAD OR RUN A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC LIKE OURS !! ONLY DEMOCRATS KNOW HOW BECAUSE WE GENERALLY DON'T THINK IN AUTOCRATIC TERMS !! REPUBLICANS ARE HIERARCHICAL AUTOCRATS THEY HAVE SHOWN ALL OF US THAT THEY DESERVE ONLY POLITICAL DEATH FOR THEIR NEARLY ACCOMPLISHING THEIR CONCERTED BLATANT EFFORT TO SUCK UP TO PUTIN AND MAKE OUR COUNTRY INTO A PUTIN'S RUSSIAN ANNEX !!! SQUASH ALL REPUBLICANS POLITICALLY LIKE THE POISONOUS BUG THAT THEY ARE TO OUR DEMOCRACY ! MAINTAIN DEMOCRATIC CONTROL !! DON'T LISTEN TO THE REPUBLICANS WHINING AND CRYING THAT IT ISN'T FAIR TO KEEP THEM OUT OF POWER ! WE DAMN NEAR LOST OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY PEOPLE, AND THE FIGHT IS NOT DONE !!!

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  • Donna
    11/08/2018
    ···

    How about mentioning, for just a minute, that the losers in Tuesday's election may have lost due to their unwillingness to accept the fact that a tweet from djt is NOT the worst thing in the world? Or maybe these candidates lost because they were more interested in keeping their job than actually DOING their job - accurately and fairly representing their constituency, NOT serving their own self-interest and desire for power.

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  • IllWill
    11/08/2018
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    Good riddance!

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  • John
    11/08/2018
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    Unmentioned was Senator Nelson... Democrat who may have lost in a swing state. Republicans won some very unlikely battles the other night, the significance of that should not be downplayed. Hats off to you, Senator Nelson, thank you for years and years of public service.

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  • Joe
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Let’s keep voting out politicians who put big donors over the people. We need big money out, and term limits in.

    Like (3)
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  • David
    last Friday
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    Democrats took the House despite extreme gerrymandering. Think about that!

    Like (2)
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  • Vernae
    11/08/2018
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    For the betterment of the country! Thank Goodness 🙌🏾

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    All “righty-whites”

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  • Tom
    11/08/2018
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    LOL I remember in 2010 when the democrats lost 64 seats because stupid Obamacare kicked the middle class out of any Health Insurance

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    All “tighty whities”

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  • Anne-cecile
    11/08/2018
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    despite Gerrymandering and voter suppression The people were heard

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  • Declan
    11/08/2018
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    President Trump asked for a referendum on his presidency, and that's essentially what he got; red state democrats in the senate largely lost, and a sizable majority of republicans in Clinton districts in the house also saw defeat. It was a pretty well thought out strategy; it basically guaranteed the senate for the Republicans, but it did sacrifice a number of suburban districts in the house. This change probably means that the two parties are going to move further away from the center; there are less rural democrats to pull the party right, and less suburban republicans around to pull it left. I hate to sound cynical, but I'd expect a gridlocked and extremely dysfunctional government for the next two years, unless the house democrats are willing to make some serious compromises. Finally, a small note to Countable: I think most would say the wins of democrats in Oklahoma and South Carolina's first districts were the biggest shockers of the night; Mia Love's district was widely polled, though Donavan was a shock too.

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    “So long(too long) it’s been (?) to know you...” Term limits 😀

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  • Sean
    last Saturday
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    Good riddance

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  • Jeanne
    11/08/2018
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    Surprised? People are sick of the jerks - party isn’t the people - it’s the big mouth jerks.

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  • Deirdre
    last Friday
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    Yay!

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  • Stewart
    last Friday
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    Drain the swamp.

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