Republicans Won Crucial Elections Where Trump Failed, Sometimes Outperforming The President By Wide Margins

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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Republicans won crucial elections where Donald Trump failed, sometimes outperforming the president by wide margins.

Polls leading up to Nov. 3 consistently showed Trump losing to former Vice President Joe Biden, the ultimate victor. GOP candidates similarly faced tight races, according to polls, but unlike the president, defied expectations and won their elections, typically by a significant amount.

Republican senatorial candidates boasted strong victories, despite polling showing close races, and secured 50 seats in the upper chamber. The GOP also gained seats in the House, though Democrats were expected to expand their majority. Republicans also prevented every state legislature that they held from being flipped, including in multiple in states that Biden won, giving them a possible advantage as states begin their congressional redistricting processes.

In Maine, polls consistently showed incumbent GOP Sen. Susan Collins trailing her opponent, Sara Gideon, leading up to the election. But Collins won reelection by seven points, despite that Gideon spent more than twice as much during her campaign.

Trump, meanwhile, lost Maine by double digits.

In New Hampshire, popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won reelection by almost 32 points. Republicans also flipped both bodies in state’s legislature after Democrats did the same in two years ago, giving the GOP full control of the state’s government.

But Trump and GOP Senate challenger Corky Messner lost by approximately eight and 16 points, respectively.

Republicans also managed to hold state legislatures in Arizona and Michigan, where Trump lost, as well as in Texas

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Susan Collins speaks at a hearing in Washington, DC. (Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

Montana, Iowa and South Carolina, all conservative-leaning, featured surprisingly competitive Senate races throughout 2020. Polls showed each race either tied or with the Democratic challenger slightly leading.

But the incumbent Republicans won decisive victories in each state. 

In Montana, polls showed a tossup race between GOP Sen. Steve Daines and popular Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. But Bullock won by 10 points.

In Iowa and South Carolina, the polls showed similarly tight races.

GOP Sen. Joni Ernst beat her challenger, Theresa Greenfield by seven points, despite the Democrat nearly doubling the Republican in fundraising.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham’s challenger, Jaime Harrison, out-raised the incumbent by nearly $40 million. But Graham won the state by 10 points.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) asks a question as U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington

Sen. Joni Ernst asks during a Senate Judiciary Committee. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Trump won Montana, Iowa and South Carolina by 16, eight and 12 points respectively.

And while Democrats were expected to expand their majority in the House, Republicans instead recovered three seats they lost during the 2018 midterms when Trump wasn’t on the ballot.

In New Mexico’s 2nd, and in Iowa and South Carolina’s 1st congressional districts, GOP turnout increased from approximately 390,000 votes in 2018 to approximately 569,000 votes, even as Democratic turnout sharply rose as well.

While the GOP candidates in those districts won with, respectively, 54%, 51% just over 50% of the vote, Trump carried each district with 55%, 51% and 52%, according to preliminary tallies from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

In Michigan, Biden beat Trump by almost three points. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, meanwhile, beat GOP businessman John James by less than two points.

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