Every Time That Flag's Unfurled
Nov 4, 2020


Across the nation, state election officials continue to tally an unprecedented number of votes cast on, and before, Election Day 2020.  Voters cast their ballots early and in-person.  They mailed them in.  And of course, the came out yesterday to vote on Election Day itself.  As a result, election officials are taking extra time and precautions to accurately count all votes across many tightly contested races.  This morning, The Way takes a closer look at the developing state and federal election results. 



Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and the Democratic Nominee, Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned well into Election Day (and evening and early this morning) in the battle ground states that will determine the outcome of the 2020 election.  Over the next few days, election officials in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania vow to process all legally cast votes to determine the Presidency.  Neither President Trump nor Former Vice President Biden has conceded the race.



Federal law requires states to determine electors to cast their vote for President through the Electoral College on December 14.  There are a total of 538 electors, and the Constitution requires majority, plus 1 vote, or 270 votes to establish the President.  Recall that earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled on “faithless elector rules,” holding that state electors must follow their state’s voting direction as part of the Electoral College. The Election of 2020 continues on.



Slightly down ballot, 35 U.S. Senate seats, 23 held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats, were up for election yesterday. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 53-47 majority over Democrats and two independents in the 100-member upper chamber. As of last night, Democrats picked up a seat in Colorado, but failed to do so in a contested Alabama race.  Republicans won high-profile races in South Carolina, Texas, and Kansas, but several races are still too early to call (including one Georgia runoff).  We have a way to go before we know which party will control the Senate.



Each member of the U.S. House of Representatives must stand for election every two years. On Election Day, the balance of power in the House was 232 Democrats to 197 Republicans with one Libertarian and five vacancies.  Based on voting totals late last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the Democratic Party will retain control of the House.  Pundits project, after all voting is tallied, the Democrats could exceed their current majority and achieve a net gain of 14 or more seats this year.  Please click here for a selection of the key House races, many of which remain too close to call.  We will keep you advised of these results and break down the newest class of Representatives in the coming weeks.


Sweet Land of Liberty


Eighty-six of 99 state legislative chambers held legislative elections yesterday. There was a Republican majority in 59 chambers and a Democratic majority in 39 chambers. Among the issues central to this year’s state legislative elections is “redistricting.” Voters are electing more than 5,000 state lawmakers in 35 states who will play a significant role in drafting and passing new maps for Congress or state legislative districts.  As these states certify their election results, we will monitor the longer term effects of newly-drafted legislative districts.   



Eleven states and two U.S. Territories held elections for governor. Of those eleven states, only Montana featured a term-limited incumbent.  Commentators agreed the most competitive races in Missouri and North Carolina, with voters citing their state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as the most critical issue.  A breakdown of the Governor’s races are available here.


From Sea to Shining Sea


We combine the results of state legislative elections and gubernatorial elections to consider the percent of unified party governments, or “trifectas” in the states. Heading into the 2020 elections, there were 36 trifectas: 15 Democratic and 21 Republican. The other 14 states were under divided government.  We will follow these results, as they often pave the way to legislative action, particularly along party lines.



The pandemic made it difficult for ballot-measure campaigns to collect enough signatures to make this year’s ballots. There are only 121 statewide ballot measures being decided in the 2020 general election — the fewest in a presidential or midterm year since 1986.  As in recent years, 2020 did see several ballot initiatives related to marijuana, including Arizona’s successful Proposition 207, which makes recreational use of the drug legal in the Grand Canyon State.  Similar initiatives were on the ballot in Montana, New Jersey, and in South Dakota, and are on track to pass, potentially raising the total number of “recreational states” to 15.  Measure 110, a first-of-its kind ballot initiative passed in Oregon, which will now decriminalize possession of all drugs in small amounts, and would redirect drug enforcement costs to fund addiction and recovery programs.



At least 101.2 million people voted early in the presidential election, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Such a record early voting turnout puts the U.S. on track to surpass 150 million votes, or 65% of registered voters, which would mark the highest percentage of eligible voter turnout in a presidential election since 1908.



Back to our main story this week, we at The Way commend the efforts of countless election officials, election judges, and volunteers who worked to manage an election in the midst of a pandemic, which necessitated widespread early voting.  The outcome of the election will take bit longer than usual to process, but we we’ll be there to track these results. Until then, stay safe, stay well, and stay connected.  


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