The 2020 election results are (for the most part) known, so it’s time to check out our pre-election guide to find out whether or not there was a Democratic wave.
For the sixth consecutive campaign cycle, the Tampa Bay Times proposed a list of factors to measure the magnitude of a potential Democratic wave nationwide – in the presidential race, in U.S. Senate and House races, in state-level contests, and in the voting measures.
After addressing eight key issues, we established a baseline for what was ‘expected’ – based on current analysis by independent electoral handicappers, including the Political Cook Report and American News and World Report – and established a sliding scale that gave the growing party increasing credit for going beyond conventional wisdom once the ballots were counted.
So how did the Democrats do? We will take a look.
1. How many of these 15 Battlefield States or Congressional Districts does Joe Biden earn?
Democrats start our roster in reasonably solid form.
The following states were named for Biden: Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska Second District, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. It is also a leader in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
In contrast, Trump won Florida, Iowa, Maine’s second congressional district, Ohio, Texas, and he leads North Carolina.
If we give Biden the nine states he’s won or is leading, Biden had a “very good night for the Democrats.”
2. How many of the following 13 countries on the battlefield switch from supporting Trump in 2016 to supporting Biden in 2020?
Biden won Maricopa County, Arizona; Duval, Pinellas and Seminole counties, Florida; Kent and Saginaw Counties, Michigan; and the counties of Erie and Northampton, Pennsylvania.
In contrast, Trump won Monroe and St. Lucie counties, Florida; Robeson County, North Carolina; and the counties of Kenosha and Winnebago, Wis.
It’s been eight counties that Biden was able to topple, including Maricopa, the large Phoenix-based county that made Biden’s advance in the state possible. It’s a “very good night for the Democrats” status.
3. How many of those 14 US Senate races do Democrats win?
This is where our list gets rough for Democrats.
Democrats are only certain of winning Senate seats in Arizona, Colorado and Michigan.
Republicans, however, appear to have won races in Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
The only two contests that have yet to be decided are the special elections in Georgia, which will certainly go to a second round, and the ordinary elections in Georgia, which may go to a second round. If the Democrats can win one or both of them, which wouldn’t be an easy task, they could throw this into “good night for the Democrats.” Other than that, they’re stuck on “the weak night for Democrats.” And a Democratic majority in the Senate seems like an elusive goal.
4. How many net US House seats do Democrats win or lose?
This category is even worse for Democrats and strong for Republicans. Prior to the election, most analysts expected a net gain of US House seats for Democrats; the main question was how much gain.
As it turns out, Republicans have so far won six net House seats nationwide, and it doesn’t look like Democrats will be able to erase that GOP lead once the races are not called. settled. So, whatever the Republicans’ final gains, it will represent a net loss of seats for the Democrats. This represents a “very weak night for Democrats.”
5. What is the magnitude of the net partisan change in the control of state legislative chambers?
While some 20 state legislative chambers nationwide were considered by analysts to be at stake, relatively few appear to have changed hands – and most of the action has benefited Republicans. The biggest surprise came from New Hampshire, where the GOP may have toppled both Democratic-owned houses, although Biden won the state more comfortably than Hillary Clinton in 2016. It also appears that the House of Alaska, which had been owned by a coalition of Democrats, Independents, and some Republicans could be heading for GOP control. (Legislative oversight often takes a while to solidify, so it is possible that these changes will be reversed or new reversed chambers may emerge.)
The Democrats’ only hope is to take back one or both of the Republican-held chambers in Arizona. It is possible, but far from being a certainty.
Even if that happens, Democrats could see an overall net loss of rooms, with hoped-for takeover targets in Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina and Pennsylvania evaporating amid a Republican vote. louder than expected in battlefield states.
In the probable event that Democrats suffer a net loss in the chambers, this category marks “a very low night for Democrats.”
6. In how many states does the “liberal” camp win in the following electoral measures?
This is where our list shines a little for the progressives.
Voters passed a tobacco tax for health care (Oregon), a family and medical leave program (Colorado), a minimum wage increase (Florida), and a reduction in payday loans (Nebraska). A measure to raise taxes on the rich to fund education (Arizona) was coming but not yet called.
Two liberal measures failed: the introduction of a progressive income tax (Illinois) and the end of cash deposits (California).
Overall, this category is considered a “decent night for the Liberals”.
7. In how many of the following five states do voters adopt voting measures that expand access to marijuana? Recreational marijuana was on the ballot in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, and medical marijuana was on the ballot in Mississippi.
It turned out that every measure of marijuana was passed. Call it a “strong night for the liberals”, although with the success of the measures in states as red as Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota, the idea of calling this issue only for liberals may be. outdated.
8. How many more Democratic-leaning candidates are winning over the Republican-leaning candidates in contested court races or maintenance elections in these states?
This year’s court races have produced mixed results.
The good news for Democrats is that they won two key races in Michigan, which was enough to shift control of the state Supreme Court from Republican to Democrat. In addition, a Democratic presidential candidate ousted one of the two GOP incumbents in the face of an Ohio Supreme Court competition; this reduced the Republican majority in the court.
However, Republicans can take comfort in seeing the re-election of the other incumbent of the Ohio bench. And beyond that, three Republican Supreme Court candidates narrowly lead in North Carolina, each of the seven GOP incumbents in Texas has been re-elected, and voters in Illinois have refused to uphold Democratic justice in square.
Overall, this counts as a “weak night for Democrats.”
So where does that leave us?
Overall, it appears that election day produced a forked wave.
There was a reasonably strong tug in favor of Democrats in the presidential race, as well as good results in voting metrics.
However, on the congressional, state legislative and state Supreme Court fronts, Democratic performance has ranged from poor to very poor, with Republicans clearly exceeding expectations.
If the 2020 election was a wave for Democrats, it certainly wasn’t.
Louis Jacobson is senior correspondent at PolitiFact.com.