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Last night wasn't a wave. It was a realignment.

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.
Image: Marsha Blackburn, John Rich
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., sings along with John Rich, after addressing supporters in Franklin, Tennessee, on election night.Mark Humphrey / AP

Fueled mainly by gains in urban/suburban areas, Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, providing a potential check and balance next year on President Donald Trump, especially with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

Fueled mainly by turnout in rural America — especially in states Trump won by significant margins in 2016 — Republicans expanded their Senate majority, picking up what looks like two seats (and it could be three if Rick Scott hangs on in Florida).

And in the gubernatorial races, Democrats picked up governorships in blue/purple states (Illinois, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Nevada and Wisconsin), while Republicans — thanks to that turnout from Rural America — won the crème a la crème of the presidential battlegrounds (Florida, Ohio).

As GOP political strategist Tucker Martin put it, last night was a realignment, not a wave.

Indeed, much like Virginia’s gubernatorial contest from last year, Democrats won big in highly educated urban/suburban areas up and down the ballot. The problem for them is that not all states are Virginia, where those urban/suburban areas mathematically crush the rest of the state.

Yes, Dems flipped the governor’s mansion in Kansas. And they pulled off a surprising congressional win in Oklahoma.

But as we wrote yesterday, we are living in extremely volatile and divided times. And what we are seeing is a further realignment of our politics — with urban/suburban going Democratic, and with rural and red areas going more Republican.

Also, how important is party in this realignment? So important that party trumps indictments (Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins) or Bob Menendez.

Where Trump was above and below 50 percent proved decisive

Yes, the House results served as a rebuke to President Donald Trump. But also note how he — and his campaigning — altered the composition of the electorate in key Senate/gubernatorial states. Despite his overall job rating of 45 percent, per the exit polls, his rating was much higher in some very important states last night:

  • Indiana: 55 percent
  • Georgia: 53 percent
  • Missouri: 53 percent
  • Arizona: 52 percent
  • Ohio: 52 percent
  • Florida: 51 percent
  • Texas: 49 percent
  • Nevada: 49 percent
  • Wisconsin: 48 percent
  • Minnesota: 46 percent
  • Pennsylvania: 45 percent
  • Michigan: 44 percent
  • Virginia: 43 percent

So draw a line at 50 percent: Any place where Trump was at 50 percent or above, the GOP did very well. Any place where he was below 50 percent was dangerous for Republicans, including in Wisconsin, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker went down in a very close race.

What a Democratic House means

Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will likely control the gavels of the all-important House Oversight and House Intelligence committees, respectively … Obamacare repeal/replace is done (although we’ll need to see what the courts decide on that GOP lawsuit) … It will be interesting to see if Trump can make any kind of deal on immigration or infrastructure heading into 2020.

What Republicans maintaining control of the Senate means

Trump filling court vacancies will continue at its rapid pace. And the GOP is in the clear if there’s a Supreme Court vacancy.

Also, with how strong Trump stood in GOP/red areas, it is much less likely to see how the president gets a GOP primary challenger in 2020.

The uncalled House races (14)















The uncalled Senate races (3)




(MS-SEN goes to runoff)

The uncalled GOV races (3)




Dems left gains on the table

With CT-GOV still undecided (though Democrat Ned Lamont is ahead here), Democrats will have gained a net seven governorships: Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Nevada and Wisconsin. And when it comes to state legislatures, the DLCC says that, as of late last night, Democrats had flipped seven legislative chambers nationwide, with a total of 333 seats changing from red to blue nationwide.

But it’s also unavoidable that Democrats left some key pickup opportunities on the table — especially FL-GOV (where Andrew Gillum was the frontrunner per the public polls) and IA-GOV.

What’s striking is how Gillum underperformed Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade County. In 2016, it went 63 percent to 33 percent for Clinton. Last night, it went 60 percent to 40 percent for Gillum. That’s a lot of votes…

It was definitely the Year of the Woman

With races still being called, our count of women winning election or re-election to Congress at this time is over 100 — with 99 women in the House and another 12 in the Senate. (The Senate number will increase to 13, because either outcome in Arizona puts a woman in office — Kyrsten Sinema or Martha McSally.)

Our count of non-incumbent women elected to the House at this time is at least 31, with 29 Democrats and just two Republicans.

And of the 30 House seats picked up by Democrats so far (for a net of 28), 19 were won by women.

Hats off to Beto O’Rourke

Given that one of us is a Texan who has witnessed so many Democratic defeats in the Lone Star State since 1994, it was hard to buy that much into Beto-mania. But his narrow 3-point loss, 51 percent to 48 percent, was impressive considering those past results. And he pushed House Dems like Colin Allred (TX-32) and Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7) across the finish line.

We don’t think we’ve heard the last of Beto O’Rourke…

Are Democrats prepared for Nancy Pelosi to be the face of their party?

Per the national exit poll, just 32 percent of voters had a positive view of the likely/possible next speaker, while 56 percent had a negative view (-24).

Bill Clinton ran against a sitting speaker of the House to win re-election in 1996. Just sayin’…

The two indicted GOP congressmen — plus Steve King — won last night

Finally, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y. — who was indicted on insider-trading charges — and Rep. Duncan Hunter — indicted for improperly using campaign funds — won their contests last night.

Also winning was controversial Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.