When Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) conceded defeat late Friday to Democratic opponent and physician Raul Ruiz, it brought the number of still-undecided races for the U.S. House of Representatives to six.
Should the remaining six go in the direction they are now headed, then the next U.S. House will consist of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats. Republicans will experience a net loss of eight from the House majority captured in the 2010 elections that gave the GOP 87 freshmen and their largest number of House Members (242) since 1938.
Historically, when one candidate for the House leads an opponent by 500 votes or more on election eve, that candidate usually emerges on top when the provisional and absentee ballots are counted. There have been some modern exceptions. In 1996, for example, the late Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.) was projected the loser by several thousand votes by numerous news outlets. But a subsequent count of absentee and provisional ballots, which numbered in the tens of thousands in Washington State???s 2nd District, put Metcalf on top and he was re-elected.
An official of the National Republican Congressional Committee told Human Events that the campaign panel was ???cautiously optimistic??? about the two races in which Republican challengers were in the 500-vote neighborhood of Democratic incumbents. In Arizona???s 8th District, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, longtime top aide to former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her successor in Congress after her resignation earlier this year, clung to a 486-vote edge over Republican and U.S. Army veteran Martha McSally. Thousands of absentee votes from active duty Americans in uniform have yet to be counted.
A similar situation is taking place in North Carolina???s 7th District, where veteran Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre holds a 507-vote lead over Republican State Sen. David Rouzer. More than 10,000 votes???many from service members overseas???have yet to be counted in the race.
A contest that is sure to draw national attention is now under way in Florida???s 18th District, where millionaire Democrat Patrick Murphy claimed victory Saturday over Rep. Allen West, firebrand conservative and one of two Republicans in Congress who is black. Although West reportedly lost by roughly 2,400 votes, the freshman lawmaker and tea party favorite insists that errors in the counting of votes in St. Lucie County could still tip the race his way. Rep. West made it clear over the weekend he would continue to contest the race.
Having raised $10 million for his re-election and with an ending balance of $2 million, West has the resources to take disagreement over the counting of the votes to the courts. Late Saturday, the St. Lucie County Election Supervisor agreed to a countywide recount of votes in the congressional race.
The remaining three races are in Arizona???s 9th District, where Republican and former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker trails Democratic State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema by about 3,000 votes; California???s Sacramento-area 7th District, where veteran Rep. Dan Lungren trails Democratic physician Ami Bera by 1,779 votes, with 10,000 votes to be counted; and in California???s 52nd District, where Rep. Brian Bilbray was running behind Democrat and former San Diego City Council President Scott Peters.
All three contests seem to be pointing to eventual Democratic wins. But with Arizona and California not requiring certification of races until December, no one is conceding.
As for the probable final outcome of a net loss of eight seats from their majority in the House, the words of one NRCC official to Human Events last week succinctly summed up the attitude of national Republicans: ???It might have been worse.???