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Midterms 2018: It was the Year of the Woman — for Democrats, not Republicans

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
New York Democratic Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to supporters on Nov. 6, 2018 in Queens. Stephen Groves / AP

WASHINGTON — Yes, an unprecedented number of women were elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms. And yes, a handful of GOP women achieved historic firsts in places like South Dakota (Kristi Noem as the first female governor of the state) and Tennessee (Marsha Blackburn as the first female senator from the state).

But it would be a mistake to view the 2018 “Year of the Woman” as a bipartisan phenomenon. The movement was almost entirely fueled by Democrats. Consider:

• With two races remaining uncalled — featuring two women between them, Mia Love, R-Utah, and Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., — Democrats have elected 35 new women to the House, compared with just one for Republicans.

• Of the 41 red-to-blue flips in the House, more than half — 24 — were pulled off by female Democratic candidates. All three of the red-to-blue flips for Republicans were won by Republican men.

• Of the 103 women so far slated to serve in the House next year, 90 are Democrats.

• What’s more, the share of Republican women in the House will be significantly down in the new Congress, falling from 23 currently serving to just 13 next session. (That number will increase to 14 if Love wins re-election in Utah, though she’s back to trailing Democratic Ben McAdams.)

• On election night, 23 women were elected to the Senate, just six of them Republicans.

• Combining the House and Senate data: Women next year will make up a bit more than 40 percent of Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill but less than 8 percent of Republican lawmakers.

• And of the nine women elected governor in 2018, six are Democrats and just three are Republicans. This past year, just two Democratic women served as governor, while four Republican women held the post.

Dems lead the House popular vote now approaching 8 points

According to the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, Democrats now have a 7.8-point lead in the House popular vote, 53.0 percent to 45.2 percent.

What were the national House vote margins in the midterm wave years of 1994, 2006 and 2010? Try R+7 points, D+6.4 points and R+6.6 points, respectively.

The uncalled House races (two)

GA-7 (Republican Rob Woodall is ahead, 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent)

UT-4 (Democrat Ben McAdams is ahead of Republican Mia Love, 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent)

— NM-2 (NBC News declared Democrat Xochitl Torres Small the apparent winner)

The Democrats’ win in NM-2 brings their net gain in the House to 38 seats — and counting.

Ivanka Trump used a personal email for government matters

Lock her up?

The Washington Post: “Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence. White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner.”

Peter Mirijanian, spokesperson for Abbe Lowell, ethics counsel for Ivanka Trump, gave this statement to NBC’s Ken Dilanian: “To address misinformation being peddled about Ms. Trump’s personal email, she did not create a private server in her house or office, there was never classified information transmitted, the account was never transferred or housed at Trump Organization, no emails were ever deleted, and the emails have been retained in the official account in conformity with records preservation laws and rules.”

But that doesn’t mean that Ivanka Trump followed the law. “Using personal emails for government business could violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all official White House communications and records be preserved as a permanent archive of each administration,” the Post writes.

And with Democrats controlling the House next year, this is exactly the kind of story that could produce more problematic headlines for the Trump White House.

Trump admin can't deny asylum to migrants who enter U.S. illegally, judge rules

“A federal judge barred the Trump administration on Monday from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally,” the AP says. “U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a temporary restraining order after hearing arguments in San Francisco. The request was made by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which quickly sued after President Donald Trump issued the ban this month in response to the caravans of migrants that have started to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“Trump issued a proclamation on Nov. 9 that said anyone who crossed the southern border would be ineligible for asylum.”

16 Democrats sign letter opposing Pelosi as speaker

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Garrett Haake: “Sixteen Democrats on Monday released a letter announcing their opposition to electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker of the House, presenting her a narrow path to reclaiming the speaker’s gavel in the next Congress. The letter is the first concrete expression of opposition from current Democratic lawmakers and incoming members of Congress since the party won control of the House in the midterm elections.”

But if the opposition is limited to these 16 Democrats – and not anyone else – then the Pelosi critics might not have the votes to stop her. If Ben McAdams (one of the 16 opponents here) wins in UT-4, Democrats will be at 234 members. And if there are 16 “no” votes for Pelosi, you still have a majority of 218 votes.

So the question is whether there are more than 16 Pelosi opponents, because 16 aren’t enough to defeat her.

The Senate runoff in Mississippi is now one week away

“Republicans hoped to spend the final days of the special election in Mississippi coronating Cindy Hyde-Smith as the first woman to represent the state in the Senate. Instead, the race has become a bare-knuckle brawl infused with ugly racial politics,” per Politico.

“Hyde-Smith’s comments about attending a public hanging and suppressing liberal votes — remarks she maintained were made in jest — have upended a contest that a week ago was seen as a mere formality for the GOP. Democrats and allied outside groups have seized on Hyde Smith’s musings to spur black voters to the polls and paint her as an embarrassment to the state. They’re trying to crack open a narrow path for Democrat Mike Espy — a Cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton who would be the first African-American to represent Mississippi in the Senate since Reconstruction — as a viable alternative.”

The Hyde-Smith vs. Espy runoff is on Nov. 27.

A reminder from last month’s NBC/Marist poll of Mississippi: President Donald Trump’s job rating among likely voters in the state was 60 percent and Hyde-Smith led Espy in a hypothetical runoff by 14 points, 50 percent to 36 percent.

2020 Watch

The New Hampshire Democratic Party announced yesterday that Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will headline a post-election victory celebration in the Granite State on Dec. 8.

NBC’s Mike Memoli reports that Joe Biden’s 2020 plans remain “in a holding pattern."

And Politico says that Tom Steyer is taking steps towards a presidential bid. “That will include a six-figure web ad buy on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, along with a full-page ad in USA Today and other Gannett newspapers outlining a political platform, a revamped and the announcement of five town halls across the country, the first of which will be in the crucial early primary state of South Carolina.”

Happy Thanksgiving

This will be our last First Read newsletter of the week. See you bright and early next Monday.