In every Presidential Election, the contest for the highest seat in the land always gets the most press. This year was no different. However, the control of Congress is just as important, and in some ways, more important than who occupies the Oval Office. In this wonderful system of checks and balances, the control of Congress will inform what type of agenda a President can accomplish. While the Presidency has switched parties this year, Republicans were able to make considerable gains and seemingly held off a potential blue wave. The entire House of Representatives was up for election this year, a total of 435 seats. In total, 222 seats went to Democrats and Republicans were able to gain, bringing their total up to 211. There are two vacancies.. In the Senate, following the January 5 runoff election in Georgia, each party has 50 seats. The Democrats will gain control since the incoming Vice President, Kamala Harris, has the tiebreaking vote in the Senate.
Here are a few noteworthy races from 2020:
- The election of Republican candidate Madison Cawthorn to North Carolina’s 11th District Congressional seat was one of the more noteworthy moments of the 2020 Election. At just 25 years old, Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress in modern history, reports CNN. Cawthorn wrote that “our faith, our freedoms and our values are under assault from coastal elites and leftists like (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” when stating his reasons for running. According to The Charlotte Observer, he “defeated Lynda Bennett in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in far-western North Carolina. He won 65.8% of the vote in the race with Bennett at 34.2% with all precincts reporting.”
- Another noteworthy election for the state of North Carolina this year was the highly contested match between incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. Polls leading up to the election had the incumbent trailing the challenger, despite bombshell revelations of Cunningham’s extramarital affairs leading up to the election, according to MSN. “A Monmouth University poll released Tuesday finds Cunningham with a 48 percent to 44 percent lead over Tillis among registered voters…(the) lead grew in spite of the October 1 revelation that Cunningham had sent amorous texts to a woman who is not his wife.” In the end, Tillis claimed victory over Cunningham, despite the Democrat calling for all votes to be counted before conceding, according to Khou.com. Tillis won 48.7% of the vote, according to NPR.
- A primary focus for Democrats heading into Election Night was the ouster of several high-ranking Republican Senators. None were more high ranking than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, himself up for reelection. In 2020, Leader McConnell was squared off against Democrat Amy McGrath. McGrath ran “fix Washington and give Kentuckians back their voice.” The constituents, however, overhwelmingly supported the McConnell . McConnell ultimately won a decisive victory in Kentucky with 57.8% of the vote in Kentucky. McGrath received 38.2%, according to The New York Times.
- A major victory that the Democrats did score in the election, however, was capturing a new Senate seat in Arizona. This race had two Vets facing off for the seat that former Republican Senator Jeff Flake vacated in 2018. The incumbent, Republican Martha McSally, won a runoff for the seat once it was vacated and was challenged by Democrat Mark Kelly for it in 2020. Prior to her role in government, McSally “served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2010 as a full Colonel.” Kelly served “in the U.S. Navy before becoming an astronaut for NASA. He retired in 2011.” Ultimately, Kelly was able to walk away with the win, scoring 51.2% of the vote. As noted by Politico, “Arizona was one of Democrats’ top Senate targets this year and was widely viewed as a must-win if they were to gain the majority.”
In a dramatic year in politics, it was fitting that control of the Senate rested dramatically on the two Senate seats in Georgia’s overtime runoff. But the result – Democratic control of the Senate (at least until 2022) may prove to be a negative result for Veterans.