The 2020 election did not quite turn out the way most pollsters and pundits had predicted. Republicans outperformed the polls up and down the ballot, to the surprise even of many Republican political operatives and party insiders. Joe Biden is projected to defeat President Donald Trump; Democrats will still control the House and still have a chance of picking up the Senate. But Republicans made gains in the House – so far netting 9 seats (with 16 races not yet called). Given their presumed strength in the suburbs, Democrats had been expected to expand their majority.

We also saw the impact of changes to state election laws in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 million Americans voted early, absentee or by mail this year, exercising their fundamental rights in what now looks to be the deciding factor this election. The historic pivot toward mail-in voting resulted in a series of blue and red mirages that saw early leads slowly narrow as more ballots were counted. The most significant examples of this were in Pennsylvania, which shifted from a solid Republican lead to a narrow Democratic lead, and Arizona, where Joe Biden held a significant lead on Election Day but where President Trump has since rapidly closed in as ballots continue to be counted. On Saturday, media outlets began calling the race for Joe Biden, projecting that he will be elected the 46th President of the United States.

Democrats hoped to narrowly retake the Senate from the Republicans, but several vulnerable incumbents hung on, like Senator Susan Collins (R) who outperformed President Trump in Maine, and Senator Joni Ernst (R), who notched a decisive win in Iowa. As predicted, Senator Doug Jones, the Democrat who unexpectedly won an Alabama special election two years ago, was ousted. Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican in the increasingly Democratic state of Colorado, lost to former Governor John Hickenlooper (D). The race in Michigan was particularly tight, with Senator Gary Peters (D) narrowly besting Republican John James in his second attempt at a Senate seat. Former Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) hung on to wrest a Republican-held Senate seat from Senator Martha McSally (R) in Arizona. McSally lost to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the 2018 Senate election but was appointed to the Senate in the wake of former Senator John McCain’s (R) passing. The North Carolina Senate race between Senator Thom Tillis (R) and Democrat Cal Cunningham was finally decided, with Cunningham conceding earlier this week. Finally, the two senate races in Georgia are heading to a runoff election on Jan. 5, 2021. For those keeping score at home, this means that the 117th Congress will begin with Republicans holding 50 seats, compared with 48 in Democratic hands.

Over in the House, Democrats enter the 117th Congress with a slimmed-down majority and facing bitter in-fighting between the progressive and moderate wings. Perhaps the highest profile, but hardly unexpected, loss for the party was House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson’s (D) loss to former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach (R). Senior Committee Democrats have begun to jockey for the chairmanship, with Representative David Scott (D-Ga.) and Representative Jim Costa (D-Calif.) the clear frontrunners. Another race with clear implications for the equipment manufacturing industry was the contest for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, where Representative Abby Finkenauer (D) lost to Ashley Hinson (R). Both candidates took AEM’s Pledge to Equipment Manufacturers, which means that the district will continue to be represented by a strong equipment manufacturing champion. Perhaps the most surprising loss for Democrats came in Representative Donna Shalala’s (D-Fla.) district, which most observers had assumed was safe for the incumbent. Former Vice President Biden’s surprisingly poor performance in Miami Dade County likely bears much of the blame for this flip. While several races have yet to be called, Democrats currently hold 218 seats to the Republicans' 201 seats. Democrats are expected to maintain control of the House, but only by a razor-thin majority.

For more AEM news and updates, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.