Were The Midterms A Historic Win For Republicans?

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During a midterm elections post-game of sorts, President Donald Trump framed the Republican wins as a huge success.

"Last night, the Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House," Trump said. 

The president is overstating his party's performance. First, at the time of the news conference, the Senate races in Arizona and Florida were too close to call. One of Mississippi's Senate seats headed to a runoff after the general election. In short, at the time of the news conference, the Republicans hadn't expanded their majority in the Senate at all. 

As for defying history, it's true that it's unusual for the president's party not to lose any Senate seats — although it's hardly historic. And in the House, Republicans neither defied history nor beat expectations, at least not those of reliable polls.

Headed into election night, Real Clear Politics had Democrats easily taking control of the House. FiveThirtyEight said there was a 7 in 8 chance Democrats would take control, saying the party would pick up between 21 and 59 seats. CNN said 32 more seats would wind up blue, and The Economist predicted the Democrats would rake in 35 more seats. The Democrats picked up at least 30 seats on election night. That's very much on par with projections — and pretty average performance compared to past midterms. 

Republicans might have surprised some political savants with their win of Ohio's governorship or the close results in the race for governor in Florida, but they didn't beat expectations in the House, and at the time of the president's news conference, they hadn't grown their Senate majority at all.