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NBC News projects Democrats will win House majority

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In Florida, Democrat Donna Shalala, former Health and Human Services secretary under President Bill Clinton, was projected to win Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The Miami seat had been held by retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who had represented the area since 1989. Elsewhere in Miami area, moderate GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., lost his seat to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

While NBC projected that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would retain his Senate seat, fighting off Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Democrats on the House side were projected to defeat other high-profile Texas incumbents.

Eleven-term GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, who has served as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee since 2013, was projected to lose his Dallas-area seat to Democrat Colin Allred, a former NFL player and civil rights attorney. And Rep. John Culberson, who has served in the House since 2001, was on track to be defeated by Democrat Lizzie Fletcher in a district that Clinton carried by 1 percentage point two years ago.

As the night continued, Democrats appeared to score several unexpected upsets.

Kendra Horn was on her way to victory in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which covers the Oklahoma City area and hadn’t been held by a Democrat since 1975.

And on Staten Island, Democrat Max Rose was projected to pull off a surprise upset of incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., on a night in which Democratic candidates north of the New York metropolitan area won two toss-up races against the GOP incumbents.

But Republicans appeared to hold on in some closely-fought contests, such as Virginia’s 5th Congressional District: the seat, which had been held by GOP Rep. Tom Garrett, was projected to go to Republican Denver Riggleman over Democrat Leslie Cockburn.

In Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, Rep. Andy Barr was projected to hold off a stiff challenge by Democrat Amy McGrath. Republican Bryan Steil will hold onto the seat in Wisconsin held by Speaker Paul Ryan who is set to retire at the end of the year.

And two Republican incumbents who were indicted this year — Duncan Hunter in California and Chris Collins in New York — both won their races.

Nov. 7, 201801:26

Across the country, voter turnout records seemed poised to fall, as the fight over control of Congress reached the final round of what was widely viewed as a referendum on President Trump and his first two years in office.

According to NBC News exit polls, two out of every three voters Tuesday said Trump was a factor in their House vote, with 26 percent saying they cast their vote to express support for the president and 38 percent saying their vote was intended to oppose the president.

As the night began, Republicans held a 235-193 advantage in the lower chamber, with seven vacant seats. Democrats began the evening hoping for a wave election similar to the 2006 midterms when they captured 31 GOP-held seats amid voter discontent with President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, while Republicans had been hopeful the booming economy this year could give their prospects a boost.

Nov. 7, 201801:55

Except for two recent midterm elections — in 1998, amid President Bill Clinton’s impeachment saga, and in 2002, the year after the Sept. 11 attacks — midterm elections have generally been unfavorable to the party in control of the White House. Since President Harry S. Truman’s tenure, the incumbent president’s party has averaged a loss of more than 28 House seats in his first midterm election.

Trump, who had no public events Tuesday and none planned for Wednesday, said earlier in the week that Democrats could win the House.

“It will be ridiculous, frankly,” he said at a campaign rally in Huntington, West Virginia. “It’ll be bad for our country. The Democrats — and it could happen. Could happen. We’re doing very well, and we’re doing really well in the Senate. But it could happen.”

Analysts had predicted that Democrats had a much better chance at winning the House than the Senate, where Republicans were projected to maintain a narrow majority. It was a difficult path for Democrats to reclaim the upper chamber, with far more Democratic than Republican seats up for re-election, and 10 of their incumbents running in states won by Trump in 2016.

Asked by reporters early Tuesday if she were 100 percent confident Democrats would re-take the House, Pelosi answered in the affirmative: “Yes, I am,” she said. Asked later in the evening if her party would claim 40 seats or more, she was equally emphatic. “No,” she said firmly.

Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed.

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