What were the 30 closest US House races in 2020?
With the 2020 American elections in the rear-view mirror (at least, we hope), we can now begin to dive into the facts.
The US House races did not follow the “generic ballot” polling script in 2020 and a few names on the below list may prove surprising. What was thought to be a year in which the Democrats would either maintain or slightly pad their majority did not turn out that way at all. Republicans made gains, many of which came in fallen 2018 seats, while other Democrats in competitive districts were put on notice for 2022.
However, some on the list below were expected. We’ll let you decide which ones were the real surprises anyway.
30 Closest US House Races in 2020
2020 Closest House Races: 1-10
The closest House race in the nation was Iowa-02, won by Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Her margin of victory? Six votes. Rita Hart, the defeated Democratic candidate, plans an appeal so it may not exactly be over yet. This was an open seat flip in the southeastern part of the state.
We expected, and got, a close race in California-25, but Mike Garcia (R) held on for re-election in a rematch of the special election earlier in the year. His win came against an overwhelming blue tide in the state, but he wasn’t the only GOP House candidate to buck it.
New York-22 is on the list despite pending litigation. Regardless of who ultimately wins, it will be on this list as one of the nation’s closest House races.
Democrats had hopes for Ben McAdams in Utah-04, but the presidential election year in Utah proved too much to overcome. Burgess Owens (R) is the newcomer here.
The fifth-closest of the 30 closest US House races in 2020 was in California-21, a 2018 rematch which went the other way. TJ Cox (D) beat incumbent David Valadao (R) in a 2018 upset, but Valadao beat Cox in 2020 in this Central Valley seat.
California-39 was one of several Orange County successes for the GOP. Young Kim (R) won in a 2018 rematch with Gil Cisneros (D) and will be heading to Congress after flipping the seat.
Republicans recruited well in New Jersey-07, but Tom Malinowski (D) held on against Tom Kean (R). Expect the GOP to go for this western and suburban New Jersey seat hard in the 2022 Biden midterms. It may even mean Kean running again.
Democrats were perhaps disappointed but not surprised that South Carolina-01 got away from them. Had Joe Cunningham (D) not lost in 2020, it would have been a way uphill fight in the 2022 midterms. Nancy Mace (R) will now represent the Lowcountry.
Lauren Underwood (D) flipped Illinois-14 in 2018 and had to fight harder to hold it than expected in 2020. This is traditionally a red seat, but what will redistricting do to it?
Rounding out the top ten is Texas-24, a Republican hold in the DFW suburbs. Kenny Marchant (R) left but Beth Van Duyne held off a strong Democratic challenge to hold the seat for the GOP.
2020 Closest House Races: 11-20
Iowa-03 was another close race in the Hawkeye State. Democrats flipped two Iowa seats in 2018, of which this Des Moines district was one, but Cindy Axne (D) scraped by with a margin of just about 1.4 percent.
Virginia-07 was an Electionarium featured race in 2020, and though it fell off of a lot of national radars, Abigail Spanberger (D) had a tough run. She held this usually Republican seat in the Richmond suburbs, but this will certainly be a renewed GOP target in 2022.
California-48 went back to the GOP in 2020 with Michelle Steel (R) unseating Harley Rouda (D). Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are back in red after a two-year blip. California elected two Korean-American women in 2020, Steel being one and Young Kim the other.
Minnesota’s closest seat wasn’t the 1st or even the 7th, but Minnesota-02, a 2018 Democratic flip in which Angie Craig (D) escaped with a win. Tyler Kistner (R) might try again in 2022 in the southern Twin Cities suburbs.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s closest seat was Pennsylvania-17 where Conor Lamb (D) got by against the GOP. He won a special election, contested a new Western Pennsylvania district, won it, and now he’s back from the 15th-closest House race out of 435.
Democrats picked off Michigan-11 in the 2018 midterms, but despite Joe Biden’s win in the state, Haley Stevens (D) struggled to get re-elected. Michigan now has independent redistricting, which may work out for Stevens because the GOP legislature was unlikely to do her any favors in 2022.
Iowa loves its close races, and Iowa-01 was a 2018 Democratic flip that went back to the GOP in 2020. Abby Finkenauer (D) could not hold off Ashley Hinson (R) in northeastern Iowa.
Wisconsin-03 may come as somewhat of a surprise on this list. Ron Kind (D) has represented southwestern Wisconsin since 1997 and is the dean of the state’s Congressional delegation. However, the district is not solid blue, and Donald Trump won it by about five points twice. Another Democrat may have lost this seat.
Florida-27 was one of two flips – yet more 2018 Democratic gains that went back to the GOP this year. This ranked 19th in the list of the 30 closest US House races in 2020. Maria Elvira Salazar (R) beat Donna Shalala (D) in a rematch in this Miami-seat, no doubt helped by the GOP doing better with Hispanic voters.
Rounding out the top 20 was Georgia-07, a Democratic gain which most saw coming after a very close call in 2018. This suburban Atlanta seat ended up open, and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) took it on her second try.
2020 Closest House Races: 21-30
Nobody expected to see Texas-15 on this list. In all of its prior iterations, the 15th has always been blue, but it came close to turning red. Vicente Gonzalez (D) was re-elected with just over 50 percent of the vote in this long and winding district that ends up in the Rio Grande Valley.
Nevada-03 turned out to be close in the small portion of the state south of Las Vegas. Susie Lee (D) had a close call, but perhaps not so unexpected in that the seat has had both Republican and Democratic representatives and the last three presidential elections here have been decided by one point.
Minnesota-01 was close in 2018 and again in 2020, but with the same outcome. Jim Hagedorn (R) won on the state’s southern boundary, though his three-point win was larder than either of his prior two runs: a 0.8-percent loss (2016) and a 0.4-percent win (2018).
Arizona-01 might not have been our first pick for closest Arizona race. This seat is mostly rural and far away from Phoenix, but that didn’t spare Tom O’Halleran (D) a tight contest.
Texas-07, on the other hand, is not that big of a shock. Lizzie Fletcher (D) took it out of the GOP column in 2018 but it hardly seemed like she was in danger in the Houston suburbs in 2020. A win is a win, and the GOP will want this back in the 2022 midterms, but is Texas shifting towards Team Blue?
Florida-26 was the other South Florida reverse flip from 2018 to 2020. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) upended an incumbent last time, only to lose to Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez (R).
Democrats played a little defense in Pennsylvania-08, the seat including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Matt Cartwright’s (D) race did not attract much attention, but it will get attention moving forward as he only won by three and a half points while Joe Biden carried Pennsylvania.
Washington-08 was a 2018 flip to the Democrats, and with Washington State so heavily blue at the top of the ticket, Kim Schrier (D) was thought somewhat safe. She did win, but had a closer race than Biden did in the 8th.
Michigan’s other 2018 flip, Michigan-08, also came in on the list of the 30 closest US House races in 2020. Elissa Slotkin (D) held on to her Lansing-based seat despite Donald Trump carrying it, but this has been a closely-divided seat for a long while.
That the 10th wasn’t one of Pennsylvania’s three closest races is a surprise. Closing out the top 30 was Pennsylvania-07 from the Lehigh Valley, where Susan Wild (D) won re-election by less than four points.
Missed The Cut
31st on the list would have been Illinois-17, a tight race nobody saw coming. Cheri Bustos (D) got 62 percent in 2018, only to win by just four points in 2020.
Oklahoma-05 was a seat much like South Carolina-01: the Democrats’ long-term prospects were bleak despite surprising 2018 wins. Kendra Horn (D) couldn’t overcome a massive GOP win in the state and this ranked 32nd in terms of closeness.
Don Bacon (R) won re-election in Nebraska-02 while Joe Biden snatched its electoral vote. He’s made a habit of winning close races, and this was 36th on the list.