Winners and Losers in the 2020 Election

The last votes of the 2020 election may not yet be counted, but here at Cogent, we’re ready to declare some winners and losers. We hope this adds a little levity heading into the weekend after the longest week of the year.

America: We’d like to have election results today


— wittyidiot (@stephenszczerba) November 5, 2020



The American public responded to the most challenging voting climate in history by making use of relaxed mail-in and absentee requirements and by coming out to the polls with the largest participation since 1900. No matter your political stripes, our democracy benefits from engagement like what we just witnessed.

 Cogent Alum Kevin McLaughlin

Our former colleague had the night of his life (possible exception: the 2018 holiday party) as he steered the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to triumph in the face of a predicted blue wave. Defending a number of targets across the country, he saw Sens. Joni Ernst (IA), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC) and Steve Daines (MT) fend off formidable challengers and put Republicans in a position to continue their control of the upper chamber. With North Carolina, Alaska and two Georgia races still hanging in the balance, his work is not over, but it has been a remarkable run for the boy from Minnesota.


A record number of Republican women – 94 – were nominees for the U.S. House of Representatives, an 81 percent increase since the 2018 mid-term election. Some pulled off upsets and others successfully defended their seats. On the Democratic side, 204 women were House nominees in 2020, a 12 percent increase from their previous high two years ago. Add to that the potential for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to become the vice president – a historic first.


New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota all voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, and Mississippi approved marijuana use with a prescription. There are now 16 states (including the District of Columbia) where cannabis is legal and another 19 allowing medical marijuana or decriminalization possession.


Remember that time Cogent put out a content series on processes and policies that could be in play should a blue wave hit Washington? Psych! With Republicans looking to maintain control of the Senate, it is unlikely that the filibuster is going away anytime soon.


 Democratic Congressional Candidates

Despite a massive fundraising advantage, and with several races still to be called, House Democrats lost at least six seats so far – narrowing their advantage to a mere eight seats at the most recent count – and the Senate remains in Republican hands, pending the outcomes of the aforementioned races. This largely unforeseen outcome will put fresh pressure on some Democratic congressional leaders to keep their leadership positions.

 Mike Bloomberg

The former New York City mayor spent more than $100 million to help flip Florida, Ohio and Texas blue, but had nothing to show for it. This is after he spent $1 billion of his own money on an unsuccessful primary run for president, which netted him only 59 total delegates, including all four of American Samoa’s delegates.

 Big Agriculture

Despite the agricultural industry pouring more than $1 million into his race, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, was defeated after 15 terms in the House.

Ranked-Choice Voting

Massachusetts voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have had voters ranking their preferences for all contests from U.S. Senate on down. A similar ballot measure in Alaska appears headed for defeat. And, in what could have been the highest-stakes example in American history, Sen. Susan Collins crossed the 50 percent threshold in her race, obviating the implementation of Maine’s ranked-choice protocols.

District of Columbia

Many advocates of D.C. statehood had been eyeing a Democratic trifecta – House, Senate, White House – to push through legislation that would grant the left-leaning capital city taxation WITH representation.