When they finished counting the votes in Arizona’s Second Congressional District — I believe it’s the redistricted version of the district formerly represented by Gabrielle Giffords — Republican challenger Martha McSally led incumbent Democrat Ron Barber by 161 votes. The final count is subject to a mandatory recount that is underway. The recount is to conclude by December 16.
Republicans held two seats in Louisiana’s runoff election yesterday. (In one of the two races, the remarried, recently released, 86-year-old Edwin Edwards went down to defeat, Matt Labash’s eloquent admiration to the contrary notwithstanding.)
The Barber-McSally race is the only one outstanding in the country. With all the other results final but that one, Republicans hold a 246-188 majority in the House. At this point, Republicans hold their largest majority in the House since 1948. The AP reports: “If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover’s administration.”
The Arizona Republic’s Rebekah Sanders article on the race argues strenuously that Barber can still pull the race out in the recount. Reading Sanders’s article closely, however, I find that the scenarios she conjures as alternatives to a McSally victory are highly improbable. We have reasonable ground for hope that McSally’s lead will hold through the recount. From the Democratic angle that she is working in the article, Sanders struggles to keep hope alive.
McSally is a retired Air Force colonel and combat veteran. She is an enormously impressive and appealing candidate who stands to make a substantial contribution in the next Congress if her lead proves out in Arizona’s tortuous recount process.
Even pending the outcome of the recount, we have this courtesy of the AP retrospective linked above: “Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman’s 74.”
UPDATE: A reader writes from Phoenix:
Having been involved in Martha McSally’s campaign for more than two years, I have no quarrel at all with Scott’s post, except that it possibly understates her outstanding qualities. My suggestion is that you never again pay attention to anything printed in the Arizona Republic, and especially anything written by Rebekah Sanders. She is just one of a large group of “reporters” who write about politics, overtly favoring any Democrat candidate. Her piece was simply based on her fantasies. Several of us have been afraid since election day that the Barber campaign and the Pima County Democratic Party would find a way to steal this election. We’re still afraid, but are becoming a little more hopeful.