Although Republicans are getting a big boost from their early victories in Florida and Virginia, the Carolinas could also prove to be a rare bright spot for Democrats if current results hold.
In North Carolina, Democratic incumbents were leading by high single digits in all three of the races that Republicans had talked about targeting this year.<p>In South Carolina, veteran Rob Miller (D) is neck and neck with Rep. Joe Wilson (R), while Rep. John Spratt (D) still seems to be in the fight in a district that he has held for 14 terms.
Three hours after the first polls closed on the East Coast, the first cracks in the Democrats’ House majority became evident as incumbents began to fall.
The first incumbent officially defeated was no surprise. State Rep. Sandy Adams (R) beat freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) in the Orlando-based seat that national Democrats had long written off. And the losses by freshman Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye in Virginia were ones that party officials expected. But the loss of Rep. Rick Boucher (D) to Republican Morgan Griffith in Virginia was more shocking, as party strategists had believed the 14-term veteran would hang on despite the GOP wave. Boucher hasn’t faced a tough race in years, but he appears to have been undone by his vote in favor of the cap-and-trade bill.
Boucher’s loss came at the same time that Republicans picked up Indiana’s open 8th district, Florida’s 8th district and Indiana Rep. Baron Hill’s 9th district.
Hill was defeated by attorney Todd Young (a nephew of former Vice President Dan Quayle). Hill voted in support of the stimulus, the health care reform law, cap-and-trade and financial regulatory reform.
Meanwhile, polls have tightened in Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler’s Lexington, Ky.-based seat and Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly’s South Bend, Ind., district. After losing Boucher, losses in those districts would indicate that even Democrats who entered Election Day ahead in polls may not be able to fend off the GOP wave.
Elsewhere in Virginia, two other Democrats are running behind their GOP challengers. It’s no surprise that Rep. Glenn Nye (D) is in trouble. Much more surprising is Republican Keith Fimian’s slight lead over Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) in the Democratic-leaning 11th district.
At 9 p.m. polls closed in 14 more states, including key House battlegrounds in Wisconsin, Colorado and South Dakota.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday night, no House incumbent had yet to be declared defeated, as polls closed in 16 states featuring nearly 50 closely watched House races.
Nearly two hours after polls closed in Indiana, Republican officials in Washington, D.C., said they were cautiously optimistic about pickups in the state’s open 8th district seat and the 9th district of Rep. Baron Hill (D). With nearly a third of votes counted in the 8th and 9th districts, Republicans held double-digits leads. But Rep. Joe Donnelly’s 2nd district remained too close to call, especially with returns yet to be reported from St. Joseph County, which includes the Democratic stronghold of South Bend.