The Biggest Surprises from the Midterm Elections

The breadth of the Republican win was surprising, but the Wall Street Journal highlights six other surprises:

  1. Virginia Senate race
  2. Maryland Governor’s race
  3. Kansas Governor’s race
  4. No runoff in Georgia
  5. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) wins
  6. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) loses

Are there others? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Christian Urrutia

    Seth Moulton unseats Rep. Tierney and beats Tisei by 14 points.

    • mybostonjack

      Yay! I have seen Moulton profiled and he seems like the real deal. A true patriot unlike the GOTP’s definition. Perhaps a rising star for the Dems.

    • keyne

      The best part of that race was that the “National Organization for Marriage” endorsed the Democrat (because not one of those icky GLBT people) and Moulton told the bigots publicly he didn’t want or appreciate their help.

  • Christian Urrutia

    Seth Moulton unseats Rep. Tierney and beats Tisei by 14 points.

  • Cedric

    I paid close attention to the polls and all the main races….so I was not exactly surprised that Warner had big trouble or that Brown went down to defeat in MD. The warning signs were there…if people looked.

    I think the Brownback winning was a shock. And I think the larger than expected margins in GA were. I also think that Pryor getting stomped in AR by that margin was surprising.

    • pisher

      I am personally surprised Scott Brown got as close as he did in New Hampshire. Jeanne Shaheen owes Bill and Hillary a bunch of favors. Which no doubt they’ll be collecting in the next two years.

      • Cedric

        Shaheen like Warner was just sitting at 50% or slightly lower all election. I knew that they were going to have closer than expected battles especially with Obama’s numbers being so depressed.

      • ResistanceIsUseless

        You’re assuming the Clintons helped. Given the anti-Democratic sentiment these days, I’m not sure that is a correct assumption.

      • ResistanceIsUseless

        You’re assuming the Clintons helped. Given the anti-Democratic sentiment these days, I’m not sure that is a correct assumption.

    • mattlisa

      Actually all the polls had Warner at 49% they just all underestimated Gillespies support or all the undecided went to him. Also he was attacking Warner as corrupt which may have worked to some extent. Anyway he survived.

      • vicupstate

        or the undecideds didn’t show up to vote, or more likely some of Warner’s supporters though he had it ‘in the bag’ and didn’t bother.

    • oldhandatthis

      I put too much reliance on our ground game. I expected losses but I didn’t think there would be a wave election and hoped Democrats could hold the Senate. It’s all very depressing, I can only imagine how the fallen candidates are taking it.

  • pisher

    Grimm’s win wasn’t that surprising–the Dems put up a very weak candidate who isn’t from Staten Island, though he’s got family there. Staten Island has leaned Republican for a long time now. Yes, it’s amazing–and appalling–that the NYC Dems couldn’t capitalize on Grimm’s legal troubles, but it’s got nothing to do with any national trends. It’s a purely local phenomenon.

    And Grimm said he’d resign if convicted–so what is the voter on the fence going to do, faced with a Democratic candidate who is clearly unfit for office? Vote for the guy who is very likely to be removed from office by the courts, and then they get two new candidates. Though Recchia sure sounds like he wants to try again. DO NOT LET HIM.

    • Unsphexish

      Came here to question this point, too. It didn’t really come as a surprise at all.

      Georgia, though…

    • nycguy

      The weirdest part is Staten Island went for Cuomo.

      • pisher

        Not weird at all. Staten Island isn’t THAT conservative. Astorino had loser written all over him. And Cuomo is a well-established brandname. He’s good buddies with Chris Christie, and of course S.I’s ties with the state it can easily drive to (unlike Manhattan) are strong. Honestly, I don’t know what it would take to dislodge Cuomo from the governor’s mansion. But Astorino wasn’t it.

    • JoeBethersonton

      Ditto Horsford being not that surprising. Commentators had been saying for ages that the poor Democratic turnout in Nevada was going to put his seat at risk, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise that he lost.

    • JoeBethersonton

      Ditto Horsford being not that surprising. Commentators had been saying for ages that the poor Democratic turnout in Nevada was going to put his seat at risk, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise that he lost.

  • Gwyneth Hannaford

    LePage reelected as Maine governor. He is such a pathetic nut case. He may have been saved by votes for Cutler and Ebola panic (he tried to quarantine the nurse Christi tried to lock away even though she has/had no symptoms).

    • CaptainCommonsense

      Eliot Cutler’s name is mudd now, right up there with Nader’s.

      • Snick1946

        I don’t live in ME but that didn’t stop me from sending his campaign an email Wednesday congratulating him for mucking up a second gubernatorial election. I asked if he has plans to run yet again in 2018 and assuming he is clearly a narcissist why not? A-hole.

  • nycguy

    Scott reelected in Florida. Brownback reelected in Kansas. Hagan losing NC. Still trying to wrap my head around those. The rest you could at least see coming.

    • Deltacross

      Scott, Brownback and Lepage reelected has me feeling like am in a different universe. Hard to digest.

      • It’s kind of a pulse of just how crazy America is. More important than ever to improve our education system and voter drive.

        • vicupstate

          more like counter the Murdock media machine

          • Right. With informed people who vote. Education and voter drives.

  • John Rietheimer

    Baker not losing. Saw him crying over poor fisherman’s two sons. Knew right away it had been made up. Don’t know if the lie it did not have time to sink in or if Coakley missed playing ads over and over of him crying and then pointing out it was a lie and an insult to voters. Even right wing voters are insulted by things they know insult their intelligence. LePage being slapped down by a judge on the facts also surprised me, but not as much.. But they both had huge leads and almost lost so maybe that is all we could hope for. People forget the right has a built in advantage as the country is rural. The only reason the left has a chance is the electoral college or nationwide popular vote mean in Presidential year ten most populated states can swing the whole election. And they are all states where right wing nuts don’t control the media and Hillary will kill stupid Republican bullshit arguments. Brighten up, 2016 is only a couple years ahead.

    • keyne

      “The country is rural”? In 2010, 80.7% of the population lived in urban areas. The United States hasn’t been majority-rural since 1910.

    • keyne

      “The country is rural”? In 2010, 80.7% of the population lived in urban areas. The United States hasn’t been majority-rural since 1910.

    • Gwyneth Hannaford

      The death of former Boston Mayor Menino froze the election push in the last critical weekend when Coakley could have pushed that BS back to Baker.

    • Gwyneth Hannaford

      The death of former Boston Mayor Menino froze the election push in the last critical weekend when Coakley could have pushed that BS back to Baker.

  • Zornorph

    Will Hurd winning TX-23 was a nice surprise to me. GOP tripled the size of their black Congregational delegation.

  • nycdem

    A pleasant surprise – Ann Kirkpatick holds her seat in a v light blue AZ district despite humongous amount of $ thrown at her. She had the astonishing strategy of actually…. Wait for it.. Defending Obamacare! Defending her votes. Standing up for her principles

    Won by 6 points.

  • nycdem

    A pleasant surprise – Ann Kirkpatick holds her seat in a v light blue AZ district despite humongous amount of $ thrown at her. She had the astonishing strategy of actually…. Wait for it.. Defending Obamacare! Defending her votes. Standing up for her principles

    Won by 6 points.

    • Sensible conservative

      I agree that her campaign was very good for the reasons you state but another reason for her win is that Native Americans now provide a big chunk of her core vote and unlike other minority groups they were always likely to turn out in big numbers for her.

      • nycdem

        She had an excellent ground game. But that seat has changed parties several times in the past decade. Her win was far from certain.

        But despite that, she was not a weasel, running away from her votes. Hallelujah. 🙂

  • Sensible conservative

    It looks like Jim Costa is going down to defeat in CA-16 which was certainly wasn’t expected. Presumably Obama delaying action on immigration was a big factor.

  • flosh

    Lots of negative surprises, but I’m very pleasantly surprised that Malloy and HIckenlooper survived by much more comfortable margins than had been projected in most polling. I like both of them and think they’ve done great work in their states. Glad to see they’ll have an opportunity to continue their work.

  • wdb

    Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell’s margins of victory
    Paul LePage winning re-election even after Cutler semi-dropped out
    Alaska (probably) throwing out both its incumbent Democratic senator and its Republican governor

  • SeaMike

    Slaughter’s close race in NY, still uncalled. Bishop’s loss in NY. Israel only won 55-45. Was the Nebraska dem pickup a surprise to anyone else? I knew Terry was in trouble but didn’t think he’d lose in this environment. Scott Peters’ apparent loss was a surprise. I figured that even more creeper stories about DeMaio would keep him from winning.

    Close Vermont race was a real shocker. Adam Laxalt won the AG’s race in Nevada, are you kidding me!?!?!

    • Snick1946

      I live in NE-2 and this election was unreal. Terry fell through the floor and thousands of Republicans crossed the line to vote him out. It helped that Ashford- his opponent- is more of a blue-dog Democrat and actually ran for Congress as a Republican in 1992.

      • BarryR

        Thanks for the on-the-ground report. So Ashford can be the Blue Dog Caucus?

      • BarryR

        Thanks for the on-the-ground report. So Ashford can be the Blue Dog Caucus?

      • BarryR

        Thanks for the on-the-ground report. So Ashford can be the Blue Dog Caucus?

      • BarryR

        Thanks for the on-the-ground report. So Ashford can be the Blue Dog Caucus?

      • BarryR

        Thanks for the on-the-ground report. So Ashford can be the Blue Dog Caucus?

  • MrBeale

    Although it wasn’t too surprising based on what the polls were, given what a bloodbath this election was for the Democrats, it’s surprising that Hickenlooper and Malloy were spared from it.

    • chrispa9573

      Especially with the NRA going after both of them pretty heavily.

    • chrispa9573

      Especially with the NRA going after both of them pretty heavily.

  • Sensible conservative

    I suppose given the results elsewhere Rick Nolan winning MN-08 was a bit of a shock, as was Collin Peterson getting a comfortable 9 point win in MN-07.

    • voncey

      Minnesota was the only state that seem to get a little bluer this year.

      • SeaMike

        Definitely managed to stem the tide there, though even in MN the Dems lost control of the state house.

      • SeaMike

        Definitely managed to stem the tide there, though even in MN the Dems lost control of the state house.

      • chrispa9573

        We kept most of the Arizona house seats except Barber might lose. I think it is less than 100 votes between them. I would have thought Sinema or Kirkpatrick would have lost but both pulled through. Barber still might.

        • voncey

          I read most of the outstanding voted (60,000) are in Dem territory.

  • voncey

    Paul LePage winning in Maine. I’m so embarrassed for the people of Maine that they re-elected this complete and utter moron.

  • voncey

    Paul LePage winning in Maine. I’m so embarrassed for the people of Maine that they re-elected this complete and utter moron.

  • Inkan1969

    The biggest surprises for me were the losses of Hagan and Crist, because Scott and Tillis seemed to be trailing so badly at the start the Dems looked like solid wins.

    On a more positive note, I was pleasantly surprised with Malloy’s and Hickenlooper’s wins, as well as the big margins for Peters and Merkely.

  • alaskadale

    GOP governor Sean Parnell LOSES in Alaska to the Independent Walker. Alaska passed 3 resolutions legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, AND protecting fishing from mining.

    • BarryR

      And voted for Sulllivan – good lord.

  • alaskadale

    GOP governor Sean Parnell LOSES in Alaska to the Independent Walker. Alaska passed 3 resolutions legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, AND protecting fishing from mining.

  • Knee Jerk

    In the weeds stuff here, but maybe noteworthy in the Big Surprise category. At the same time McConnell ran way ahead of the polls, including the daily tracking polls for the campaigns, tens of thousands of Ky. voters split tickets and reelected their Democratic state House members so that the Democratic majority remained at the same 54-46 split as before the election. What this seems to mean is that in Ky., at least, this was definitely not a uniformly sour electorate who were mad at all incumbents or all Dems. Maybe McConnell’s argument about being able to help Ky. as majority leader had some power. Maybe Grimes wasn’t as strong as she seemed to be. But mostly this was a repudiation of national Dems and the Current Occupant (who I think is great, BTW), in part because of coal in Eastern Ky. but obviously for other reasons statewide. Maybe race.

    • BarryR

      I think this race turned very badly with the “I’m not telling” incident. Races can go bad over something like that. It happened to Dukakis in 1988. One moment where people think you’re full of shit, that you’re not a real person, they turn off.

  • urban_coyote

    Ho hum. Trite list by the WSJ and trivial comments. The big surprise was the Republican landslide in governors’ races. In January there will be 31 GoP governors. And the state senate and house races went the same way. They have a vibrant “farm team” for the future.

    • BarryR

      It is the Democrats biggest problem – a very weak bench.

  • ryp

    I was surprised by the margins of victory in IA,CO, GA and KY. Hagan losing was more of a disappointment than an actual surprise, the race was always close. Walker’s margin was also a surprise. That WI would re-elect a Republican Governor wasn’t the surprise, but someone as repellant as Walker, when WI has trailed the rest of the midwest in recovery?

  • Snick1946

    Kansas was the most disgusting. Apparently Brownback hasn’t run KS into the ground enough for those voters. I guess all they care about is the big black bogeyman in the White House. Screw them- they deserve all they will get and it’ll be a lot, including bankruptcy of the state government and collapse of their public educational system.